This is the legend of the flute woman:
There was a woman who charmed those of Life. The woman was nameless, or if she had a name none of the others knew it. She was the only one who could perform this particular power, of course. The others of assorted strengths in the luminescent field had no such talent to call living creatures so accurately, no matter if they tried or concentrated.
Students from far and wide came to gawk at her, and wondered what the secret was. She had only to play her flute, where music by the symphonies came.
Sweet music, pleasant to the ear. It was quite often described as sad by the older generations with better ears for good music, yet she drew those that were happiest.
As if happy and sad were one. Many things are one, though; no matter we call them opposite. We are the only creatures who place limits on the world around us. Limits that often are not there.
“Teacher,” called one of the younger ones, determined to know what she knew. “How do you call those creatures?” granted, the woman was covered in multiple creatures.
Birds, crickets, squirrels, mice, hawks and butterflies, even predators came to lay at her feet, at peace with those that normally they called prey. The wise woman merely continued playing her flute, not opening her eyes to look at them. “It is the music,” said one of the girls.
“The animals are attracted to the sound,” she said. “Most animals have no ear for music, or cannot understand beats. It’s all just noise to them, and even if they could hear that it’s in certain rhythms, why would they care?” her classmate contradicted. “Her aura, then, see how she is at peace? They flock to her for that peace,” a boy stated confidently.
“I do not think so,” another proclaimed. “Peace matters not to sentient beings. Living creatures care not whether something is loud or quiet, soft or hard, they can adapt and find happiness wherever they go. All the same, those predators at her feet would hardly care whether she was at peace or not if they truly wanted to kill her,” another of them contradicted.
“The way she sits? Perhaps it interests them,” they all stared at her meditative posture, and the way her eyes were closed before shaking their heads. Sitting was not something most beings cared much for.
“Smell?” But she smelled like birch bark and blossom incense. She smelled like a clean pond and autumn leaves. Why would they be attracted to something that smelt just like their normal environment?
“Perhaps it is a coincidence?” Another scoffed. “Or she feeds them on a normal basis, so they come to her instinctively whenever she makes that sound,” the faithless replied. “It has nothing to do with any of those other things. It is rational,” the others stared, somehow reluctant to believe this.
“So why aren’t they fighting each other for her attention, and by extension, the food she would give them? And she has not fed them yet, nor have we ever seen her feeding them…” The others said skeptically. “Maybe she does it in secret,” the faithless said. “Or perhaps they are tamed animals,” another suggested.
“You cannot tame butterflies and bees. And even if she somehow does attract them by means of food or advantage, then why do they stay when she does not give it? And why aren’t they attacking us? The predators are asleep, and the birds rest beside them, yet they do nothing. The deer and bears sleep side by side beneath her. The hawks and mice roost together in one nest. That defies logic,” the others pointed out. “She has even attracted our interest, and she has given us nothing. She says nothing. She doesn’t even look at us,” another boy pointed out.
Then, after more guesses that went unanswered by the magnetic sage, they turned to another small girl who played the flute. “Match her tunes. See if the animals will come to you,” they said and the girl sat.
Eager to please her friends and do as the sage woman did, she played with all her talent, which was considerable, but the creatures did nothing. They did not even twitch or give any indication of hearing her music, though it matched the woman’s with perfect precision.
Yet, for the first time, the woman opened one eye to peek at them with amusement. “My dear, you play well but you try too hard,” she said softly.
The children gasped. They had never heard her speak before nor in their history had she ever opened her eyes or stopped playing her flute. “You all guess well, but the answer is not in plain sight. You must not try to bring them. I do nothing but play my flute. For my own enjoyment,” explained the woman around her instrument.
The animals around her raised their heads, but did not leave, instead studied the children curiously. “Have you never heard the expression that the tighter you hold unto something the more likely you are to lose it? If you attempt to catch a bird in your hands, will it come to you willingly? Or will it fly away in terror?” she asked. “It will fly away, of course,” the children cried, astounded at the beauty of a voice that had gone unused for so long.
“But if you sit among the trees and go about your own business, is it more likely to come to you?” She wondered. The children could only nod. “So that is what you do. If these creatures sense that once they come, you’ll not let them go again, then they won’t come. If you go looking for them, they assume you are hunting them or pose a threat; they won’t come. Nothing will come willingly if it knows you don’t plan on letting it go again,” she told them wisely.
“I am not sure whether they like the sound of my flute. Perhaps it is my smell. I know I can barely feed myself, let alone them. I say nothing and do nothing but…Be myself. And if they wish to leave, then I take it as a compliment, because it means they came in the first place. If they wish to stay, well, then I take it as a compliment because it means they wish to stay. I do not try to attract them or win them over as if they are some prize at fair to be won. They are willful beings, with a mind and a life. So long as they are here, I will not let harm come to them, and they know this,” she said.
The children mulled it over, but were dumbstruck. “But if you didn’t do anything to make them come, why did they come?” the girl with the flute inquired. The woman shrugged. “Because they wanted too,” she replied. “But if they wanted to come, why would they leave?” The boys demanded.
“Because they want too,” came the calm answer. “But wouldn’t you be sad if they left?” another asked. “Of course not. The fact that they came in the first place is good enough for me. If they have other things to do, well, then who am I to stop them?” she said. “Don’t you love them?” the girls demanded.
“Of course I do. I love them all very much. And I need them, for without them, I doubt I would have the motivation to play my flute every day, and without the sound I would grow weary of life,” she told them. “So why not keep them, so that you never tire of life?” another asked.
“Because I love them. Why should they give their lives for mine? What makes my happiness worth more than theirs?” she questioned. “But they came, and they come every day. So doesn’t that mean they want to stay with you anyway?” the clever ones wondered.
“No. It just means they wanted to come, not that they wanted to stay. They do not need me to survive,” she pointed out. “They do not need them, but you need them?” the woman smiled and nodded. “But even though you need them, you’d be willing to let them leave you alone?” she nodded again.
The children sighed. “Teacher, that doesn’t make any sense,” they sighed, grumbling at the aphorisms. The woman chuckled softly. “Love doesn’t make sense either, my dears,” she said merely, and began playing her flute again. The children, satisfied and puzzled both, walked away, grumbling about the intricacies of one of their favorite gossip tools.
But the girl who played the flute stayed, and sat beside the teacher without word. She understood. She sat meditative style, closed her eyes, and played her flute, discarding of all wants and worries about whether the living things stayed or did not stay, and little by little they came.
She played her flute for them, tuning and retuning to make it perfect, though she knew they did not care for it. Yet she cared. She did not rejoice in their coming, though she enjoyed it. And when the wise woman finally died, silently, the last sputtering of her flute flowing away into oblivion, the playing of the girl took her place, starting a new cycle.