Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Song of Arda (copyright 2003 June Vollans)

She sat in her rocking chair, barely moving but for the slow tapping of one foot as it reached toward the fire and back again. Her eyes were closed and in her head she heard once more the eerie calling of the song of Arda, the elven music she had been privy to only once in her long ago childhood as she wandered lost through the deep green woods. She heard the music and stopped to listen, hearing the whole tune only once in her life and never forgetting a note of it. The fairies had found her and led her from the forest that very afternoon, setting her safely back on the path to home. She sang the song incessantly for a week after her return, until her father told her he never wanted to hear it again. After that, it had rung in her head, as it did now. When she grew and left home, she moved close to the edge of the forest, hoping to hear the song played by the fairy once more before she died.

Her fat, wrinkled body barely fit into the old rocker now, and her knees and arms ached with the chill of winter rains, but she could still move swiftly if she needed to. Her head swayed slightly with the music that ran through her head, eyes still closed against the sights of her small and dark cottage home.

The village people feared her, called her 'old hag' and only came to visit when they needed an herbal potion to still a disease or thought she should help them to harm another. They knew not what they asked of her at those times, that she would not comply. Instead she sent them hurrying off back to the village when she raised her broomstick in anger. They called her 'witch' and rumors spread of her powers. Those that she sent away, made up stories in anger, until quite a legend had grown. According to that legend she was now one hundred and fifty years old and was a great student of the black arts. In reality, she was neither.

Her head swayed gently to the music, her eyes closed, her foot barely moving toward the fire and back again. A smile perched gently on her aging lips and she felt the presence of Arda once again.

She'd seen him but once, on a clear night many full moons ago, as she sat on her stoop catching the cool breezes after a hot day. She was humming his song and he came to stand at the edge of the forest, head tilted, listening. She kept her eyes only slightly turned toward him, feigning ignorance of his presence as she continued to hum his song. He stood in the shadows, but the blue of his skin glistened in the darkness. He didn't speak until she was finished.

"Where did you learn that song?" His voice lilted across the yard on gossamer wings and landed gently on her aging ears.

"In the forest when I was very young," she answered shyly.

"You've lived here for many years. I've never heard you sing it before."

She was surprised that he knew she was here, surprised that he'd been listening. "I sing it in my head," she told him softly.

"You say you heard it only once?"

She nodded, somehow knowing that he would see her do so even in the dark of the night.

"Yet you know it without error." It was a statement, something almost mumbled to himself.

"It's a very beautiful tune," she had said, and then she had boldly asked, "What is it called?"

"It is my own song, the Song of Arda," he answered, then he added softly, "You should not sing it aloud again."

He disappeared into the forest then, melting into the shadows to become one of them. She never saw him again but there was always hope that he would play for her once more before she died.

She let the music take her away from the cabin then, far away into the forest, deep within the realm of Arda. The music played in her head and she smiled a gentle smile. The wind began to mutter against the creaky old hut and she paused for only a second to be sure she wasn't going to have to tie down the shutters. But the wind abated and stilled once more. And the music began to rise.

She stopped breathing and listened. This time it wasn't in her head. This time it was coming from the forest. She stiffly rose, and shuffled to the door, bringing it open as quietly as she could, pulling her tattered shawl around her to try to stop the cold.

Across the yard, over by the trees, he stood, shimmering blue in the night. He never wavered as the tune was played clear, bright, full of promise and mystery. His song. The Song of Arda.

Suddenly she realized he was singing. The words. She'd never heard the words before. Only the tune. She sank to the stoop and listened, her eyes never leaving him. His lute played softly, his voice sang clear, telling how he'd been forced to fight in a great battle, the death of his father and mother, and finally of his coming to the forest, leaving all behind him save this song. And she understood. She remembered the song because his story was her own. They were joined by the music in the stories of their lives. Tears rolled down her cheeks as she listened and remembered. Sorrow for times past rolled over her as the words told their story.

But the words began to tell more, how his life became peace in the forest, how life held new meaning and hope, how it was that he could sing the song without hate or pain because the memories could not harm him any longer. He had found peace in the forest as she had found it at its edge. Her sigh of joy was felt across the yard and into his heart and he paused his singing.

"Yes," he said softly, turning to look into her face. "Yes."

Then he melted back into the trees, becoming the shadows once again. She waited for a time, then stood and shuffled back into her hut, shutting out the cool night breezes.

She sat in her rocking chair, barely moving but for the slow tapping of one foot as it reached toward the fire and back again. Her eyes were closed and in her head she heard once more the eerie calling of the song of Arda. Only this time, she heard the words as well as the music.

Positive Thinking (written in October of 2006)

Positive thinking. You’ve heard of it, but what is it really? I'll tell you what it is not.
  1. It is not answering the question "how are you" with "I'm great", unless you actually feel great inside and out. 
  2. It is not mentally hanging on to every "wrong" that has ever happened in your life (perceived or otherwise) while telling people you are fine.
  3. It is not telling others that you are "wonderful" while thinking or feeling that you are not.
  4. It is not pointing fingers at others and saying "that one made me feel this way" or "that one made me do that".
In fact, positive thinking does not have a great deal to do with outside forces. It has to do with YOU, internally and externally. Positive thinkers are not necessarily the happiest people you meet, although most are content with their lives. They are not necessarily wealthy nor do they pat everyone on the back, although they do try to be supportive. Positive thinkers view their life and all of the experiences they have as completely their own. This means they take full responsibility for every thought, feeling, and activity in their lives. Here are my personal beliefs on this important topic.
Whatever you want to hang onto about other people, you're going to. No one can stop you from doing that. However, you must take responsibility for that action, which means, you must accept that whatever you feel, YOU are allowing. No one else can hurt you. You allow yourself to hurt. No one else can make you angry. You allow yourself to be angry. No one can give you fear. You are the one who takes on the fear. No one can make you feel bad. You allow yourself to feel bad. On the other hand, no one can make you feel good. You allow yourself to feel good. You cannot blame… or credit… anyone else for the way you feel.
There is nothing for it but to accept that, and then to ask yourself why you are forcing yourself to feel that way. Does allowing yourself to feel pain or hurt make you feel better? It usually makes people feel worse, but some people seem to rather enjoy the pain that they allow in their lives. Some people use it as an excuse to do things. Whatever your reasons, they are yours and yours alone… so if you want to stop hurting, then stop. It truly is that simple. I don't need (or really want) to know your reasons or hear your arguments about this. You must work it all out for yourself and then you must do whatever it is you decide is best for you. I have said this many times… "YOU CANNOT CHANGE ANYONE ELSE. YOU CAN ONLY CHANGE YOURSELF!" Change your thoughts and you can change your life. Once you change the way you react to people and their words or actions, people usually change the way they treat you. Right now, your reaction to negative actions or words is to take on negative feelings. Try to be positive (or at least neutral) instead and see what happens. You do not have to suck in the negative. You can exude positive reactions instead. Even if the other person is being a jerk!
Meditation is a good way to reach inside and make changes to yourself. If you have never meditated, it isn't difficult. It is simply relaxing into a state of near-sleep.
1.      Get yourself a nice soft, soothing CD or tape and listen to it. Music is good… but make it music without words so that you don't sit listening to the words instead of meditating. Sounds, like bubbling brooks or ocean waves, are good too, but make them "pure" sounds without any music in them.
2.      Find a comfortable place to sit or lay down.
3.      Now, as you listen to your soft music or sounds, imagine you're walking very slowly down a huge winding staircase. Your hand is on the banister and you pause on each step for several seconds. Look around and take note of the things you see. Count the number of steps. There are twelve of them. When you reach the bottom, you will find the prettiest garden you've ever seen. Go ahead and explore it for a few moments before you begin talking to yourself. You may meet one of your guardians here if you wish. Just ask one to show up and then look for him or her.
The first few times you meditate, you might fall asleep. Don't worry about it if you do. Try not to meditate just before you go to bed or you will never get to the point where you can talk to yourself. You want to relax to that “almost sleeping” stage, but not actually go to sleep. Then you can talk to yourself and see what's up.
Don’t ask me "why" this and "why" that. My only answer is… How should I know? I am not here to figure out the "whys" of this world or its people. I sincerely don't care what they are! Perhaps God, the universe, mother nature… whatever you want to call that "higher being"… knows. Perhaps he/she/it doesn't. Perhaps he/she/it cares. Perhaps he/she/it doesn't. What the universe or anyone else knows or thinks has little to do with me. The only opinions or thoughts that matter in my life are mine.
One thing that you need to accept in order to move on is… You are the most important person in your life. If you can't accept that, you will never move forward. This is your life. It is the only one you get. You, and you alone, are fully responsible for what happens, for what you feel, for what you do, for who you associate with, for everything that goes on in your life. You can have good experiences with others or you can have bad ones. The choice is completely yours. Most people will not accept this fact and most people go through life blaming everyone and everything they encounter… or giving them credit… for everything that happens in their own lives. It's really too bad they do this because they would be so much more free and happy if they took full responsibility for their lives.
There is something that I believe is helping to make most of your troubles appear. My belief is that we draw negative things to us because of negative thinking. Let me explain...
The universe is there, waiting to give us everything our souls desire to make our lives everything we want them to be. However, in order to give us everything we want, the universe watches to see what it is we concentrate on the most. After all, it is only logical that we would concentrate mostly on those things we truly desire… right?
So, when we constantly think about negative things, we are drawing more negative things to us. That's the way the universe works. It knows no other way of being and it does not hear our occasional little pleas and prayers for good things. It sees us concentrating most of our efforts on negativity… it assumes that this is what we truly desire… and it brings us our souls' desires (what we concentrate on the most) in as large quantities as it can without overloading us.
Can you see this happening in your life? It has likely been happening for many years now... and you are still concentrating on the negative. If you want to see big changes in your life, you must make big changes in your thinking. If you change, if you begin to concentrate and think about more positive things, then the universe will gift you with more positive things. This will take time, however, because, firstly, you will not change immediately and secondly, you have loaded your "wish list" with much negativity... and those "wishes" will be supplied before the universe will switch to your new "wishes" for positive gifts.
At this point most people lie to themselves and say "But I am a positive thinker". Be honest with yourself. Look deeply at what you say and think about the people, places, and things around you. Listen to what you say and think... truly hear yourself. You will see that you are probably not a positive person.
Another thing that you need to do in order to move forward in your life is to forgive, even if you cannot forget, and toss out all of your garbage. The only person you are hurting by hanging onto the garbage you drag around is you. All that garbage you're carrying around in the form of "dislike, hate, discomfort, bad memories, etc." is just that… garbage. Visually put it into a green garbage bag, take it out to the curb, and wave good-bye to it as the garbage men take it away. It's not worth hanging onto. No matter what, all that stuff only hurts one person… that would be YOU in your life! No one else cares and no one else is hurt by it... although constantly making it part of your conversations with others will make people want to stay away from you. Positive people attract others to them like flies to honey. Negative people are often lonely and alone. Ditch the garbage, think and speak more positively, forgive anyone who has "wronged" you in the past, and you will be a happier person. Hang onto it, and you will continue to be sad, sorry, and lonely.
Another thought on your whole situation is this… perhaps you are going through some of this sh*t because you still haven't "got it". It is my belief when I am experiencing the same sorts of things over and over, that I must change something about the way I am reacting to it. When I finally "get" whatever it is I'm supposed to be learning, my life begins to move again. Until that moment, the sh*t continues to happen in my life. So, the sooner you figure out what you need to learn, and "get it", the sooner your life can get back on track. Again, it is a matter of taking full responsibility for your life. It isn't where you live or who you meet or what others say or do that has any bearing on how you feel, unless you allow that to happen. It is only how you react to what or who you encounter that affects you. Learn the lessons quickly and your life will continue to flow smoothly. Learn them slowly, and you will continue to experience the same things until you understand and learn.
Yes, there are things that come into our lives that aren't pleasant. There are illnesses and there are people and experiences and all the unpleasant things that life can bring to us. Personally I believe that these are our lessons and tests. Some, just like tests in school, are more difficult than others. It isn't what they are that matters. It's what you do with them.
There is always a negative and a positive way to look at things. There is always a "bad" and a "good" in everything. Find the good and you will have a good experience, despite the circumstances. Find the bad and you will have a bad experience… again… despite the circumstances. The universe teaches and tests us all the time. These are the things that help our souls to grow. Without the lessons and tests, we can't grow spiritually. Since spiritual growth is the main reason we're here, it follows that the lessons and tests are going to be with us throughout our lives.
People who have few tests to endure, do not have less to learn spiritually… they might have more or they might be learning their lessons quickly. As individuals, our spirits can only endure so much, so we are given lessons and tests that we can handle. Remember that, when you are going through a particularly difficult test or series of tests. You can handle it spiritually. The trick is to figure out the lesson or answer as quick as you can and come out a winner with it. Once the lesson is learned, you move on to the next stage of your life... and the next series of lessons and tests.
That's about all I have to tell you for this time. Don't get mad at me for saying any of this. Don't get scared either. The sooner you take your life back from the outside world (and remember… you gave it up!) the better your life will be. Your life truly is what you make it. In my opinion, anyway.