VIDEO 1:40:  “the reason I wrote this article”

photo by:  @krisjanis

A story of a fisherman and his nephew

 “There’s an island not too far from here,” the fisherman points to the horizon. “They say the trees can sing and the river’s rapids are the sound of a flutist trilling.  They say beneath the soil are hidden treasures of golden clefs.”

“That’s rubbish!” The nephew quickly dismisses the nonsense and rolls his eyes. 

“They say,”  the uncle remains engrossed in his thoughts, “those who find their song, find their inner joy.  It’s the melody that reveals the quality of the heart. Have you noticed, dear Nephew, that those who sing quietly to themselves are content and at peace?  Let me take you to the island.”

“Okay Uncle, if that’s what you wish.”  Discouraged, the nephew signals his uncle to lead the way to the boat. “But I need to be back by the afternoon to catch my flight.”

The uncle smiles as they walk to the dock.

“Welcome to my life”,  with a sparkle in his eyes, the uncle directs his nephew to board Ma Belle Chanson, in English, My Beautiful Song.

“Of course that’s her name,” murmurs the nephew under his breath.

The two set sail and within minutes the winds and waves pick up.  The ride is rocky and the nephew has a few nauseating episodes. At last, they arrive.  Anchored close to shore, they row to land in the dingy.

As they set foot on the sand, the fisherman gestures to be silent and walk lightly.  The uncle led his nephew down a trodden path. They arrive at a clearing.

“I’m hungry,” the fisherman says softly.  “Need to take a break.” He sits down on a tree stump, quietly opens his bag and pulls out a turkey-cranberry sandwich and a doughnut.

The nephew shakes his head and whispers, “You bring me to this island to have your lunch?”

“Have you ever seen a more beautiful sandwich?” The uncle chuckles and takes a big bite, “Mmmmm”, he mumbles, “Delicious.”

Clearly annoyed, the nephew points to his watch with charade gestures: “Remember.  You and me. Back to the mainland.”  He ventures out and explores the island alone.

Within 100 yards, he arrives at a rustic wood-plank armchair perfectly nestled in a grove of olive trees.

“That would look great on my patio.”  He sits down to test the comfort. Pleasantly surprised, he relaxes into the chair and looks around at the surroundings.  “Gotta give my uncle credit, this island has an impressive landscape.”

For the first time, the man relaxes, drifts into thought and closes his eyes.

Without a moment’s delay, a powerful gust of wind overcomes the grove  The nephew jolts and sits up. The gale has a piercing whistle that frightens him. He closes his eyes and clenches the armchair.  “What’s happening?!” The nephew hears footsteps approaching and a whisper begins to chant.

“I pour this river upon your face
The song in you, believe, embrace,
Oh melody, rise up within
Wake the slumber that lies therein”

Water pours over the nephew’s head, trickling down his cheeks, “Drink”, the whisper says.

The nephew reluctantly opens his mouth and begins to lap the water in.

“May you be refreshed and may your song be awakened from its slumber.”  the whisper then asks, Why do you doubt your voice?

Unsure of the question, the man replies, “I don’t know what you mean.”

At that moment, a second set of footsteps approached and the chant resumes.

“Under this olive tree find peace
Only in calm can your fear cease
Let sounds be heard, do not control
Unchain your song, unchain your soul”

Trees begin to sway and the warm breeze brushes the nephew’s face.  The wind lifts his chair off the ground, higher and higher.

“Open your eyes, ” the whisper says.

The man could see for miles.  He could see his uncle and the boat moored close to shore.

“Let go of your need to control and your song will arise.  Why do you hang on to your life so tightly?” asks the whisper.

“I… I feel responsible. Every step is my burden to carry.  Only I can make things happen.”

The chair lands safely back to the olive grove and the whisper   “Let go of striving and your will soar.”

A third set of footsteps approaches from behind and whispers to the nephew:  “Why do you let others criticize your voice?

The nephew didn’t like that question and becomes defensive.  “You’re mistaken, I don’t allow anyone to criticize nor silence who I am and what I do.”

“You convince yourself of these words.  If what we say is not true, then where is your song?  Your inner-song lays dormant.”  The Three Whispers continue the chant:

They like your sound they like it not
Pay no attention, give them no thought
Music lives within your voice
Only you can make this choice

“Fear locks your melody away.”  The Three whispers explain.  “Fear of not believing in your own voice, fear of trying too hard in your own strength and fear of what others will think of you.”

At that moment, the man looks down to see countless golden bass and treble clefs springing out of the ground, like a garden full of tulips budding.

The golden clefs begin to create music.  An orchestra erupts. The rich notes of a grand piano; whimsical wind and stringed instruments; bold, colorful cymbals and snares; and a choir of magnificent singing.

The man reclines in the chair, arms hanging to the side, head lifted up.  And, perhaps for the first time, he truly listens. Tears well up and he proclaims, “This is the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard.”  

The Three Whispers resume their chant:

“Rise up oh song, unbound and free
The music is yours and always will be
The fears you carry are false and untrue
The sounds you heard are created by you!”

The Three Whispers retreat and their footsteps grow faint.  An echo ripples through the trees, “Remember, you are your own conductor.”

The man bolts up from the armchair and sprints back to his relative.

“Uncle, did you see me flying in the air!?!  Did you hear the orchestra? That was me! I was the orchestra!” Surprised by his own words, he repeats himself, “I was the orchestra?!?!?  Incredible! I didn’t believe it at first, but I do now! Uncle, I have a song within. I get it! I really get it!” The nephew collects himself and notices his uncle eating, “You’ve barely taken any bites.”

While taking his next bite, the uncle says, “So, you met the Three Whispers….”

“Yes, I did!  What a powerful place. I will never forget today.  I know I’ll miss my flight and that’s ok. Thank you, Uncle!  Thank you! Were you wondering where I went?”

The fisherman laughs, “I think you were gone an entire minute, Nephew.”

“One minute?  What time is it?”  The nephew looked down at his watch, startled, he joined in the laughter.  “Well, I guess I won’t miss my flight after all.”  He pauses, “Uncle, what happened to me?  Was it a dream? Did time stand still?”

“This island is a very special place.  No one truly knows its mysteries. One thing is for certain, my dear Nephew, you stopped believing in your song.  And today, you found your melody again.”

They push the dingy from shore and row to the fishing boat.  The sail to the mainland was calm and peaceful. They disembark and walk towards the nephew’s car.

“Time for you to catch your plane, Nephew.”

After putting his belongings in the car, the man turns to his uncle and reaches for his hand. “Music lives within my voice.  Only I can….”

The uncle interrupts him, “make this choice.”

The nephew grins.  The connection between them was like nothing he’s known before.

The uncle continues, “When I was about your age, I too met The Three Whispers and was awakened to my purpose.  I soon bought my boat and named her, Ma Belle Chanson. From that day onward, I lived my best years.”

Uncle,” the nephew reflects. “I didn’t think I could sing.  I thought singing is what people do with a microphone.  I had no idea that singing is what flows from my life, my heart, my soul.  It’s the legacy I’m creating; the song that will stay after I’ve passed. I let myself forget; I dismissed it as flighty and idealistic.  My song was missing and my emptiness kept growing. The song of my life is real, Uncle. And to think, I’m the conductor. The possibilities are endless!  The more I release the music within, the greater the rhapsody. I know this now.”

The two bid farewell and the man drives away, forever changed.​​

– Karen Thrall

REFLECTION:

1. What feeds into your life to help you truly live out your song?

2. What in your life might be hindering your fullest melody?