After several hours of wandering in the dark forest and passing the same landmarks over and over again you admit to yourself that you're lost. Not only lost, but starving and thirsty and with legs aching from the walking. Though feeling drained you somehow find the energy to climb to the top of the hill you see nearby. Once you reach the top and gather your breath you notice a campfire not too far away. The thought of another human being and food and shelter gives you an adrenaline rush and start to hurry down the hill. But as you get to the bottom you curse yourself for not taking the time to check the direction and distance. The feeling of hope suddenly fades away and you fall to the ground in desperation.
But what is that? Is that music the winds are carrying? As if the music was giving you new strength you quickly rise to your feet and start hurrying towards the source of the melody. Faster and faster until you see a light glowing from behind what looks to be a circle of tall birches. Before you know it you are inside the circle and see the soaring fire that seems to rise above to meet you. The music indeed comes from this place, even the roaring of the flames is drowned by the melodies. Looking past the fire you see a grey shape and in an instant the music stops, seemingly as soon as it had started and the grey shape turns out to be an old man. Somehow you get the feeling he is far older than he appears and his voice radiates ancient wisdom as he beckons you to sit on the log by the fire. Hesitantly you obey, and as you sit the old man turns his attention back to the instrument he was playing a minute ago. The sound of it is unmistakable; it is that of a kantele, the musical instrument of mythical proportions. As he starts playing, all other sounds seem to disappear, even the fire stops crackling and the birds stop singing as the waves of music flow from this wise man. Suddenly you are not sitting by the campfire anymore; the music carries you away, through time and place. Images of ancient civilisations flash past your eyes as you travel through time. Blurry images of a forest flies by, as if you were running in ancient woods...
Suddenly the images disappear and you open your eyes grasping for breath, as if you haven't breathed in hours. Turning your attention to the old man you are struck with fear, for the old man seems to have grown, his head at the same level as the crown of every tree. And not only has he grown, he radiates inner light, so brightly you have to turn your eyes away. "Do not be afraid" the words ring through your mind but you swear you did not hear them. Turning your head to the old man, it hits you, his eyes are fixed at you, and you cannot escape the feeling that his stare drills right through your soul. And as soon as you realise this, the music fills your ears and flows right into your soul, cleansing it from darkness.
The music stops, and you open your eyes. The old man is gone as is the campfire. The coldness of the log makes you quickly stand up and looking down you notice it is not a log at all, but a stone covered in moss. And then it dawns on you, everything is bathing in sunlight! Looking up and shading your eyes you see that the sun has already reached its zenith point. But how is that possible, for the last thing you remember is that of you sitting at the bottom of the hill, cursing yourself in frustration. How was that possible you do not know, as you now know exactly what direction to take to find your way out of the forest. Somehow you also feel much happier now, as if a huge weight had been lifted off your shoulders and all the bad memories washed away. So, you head off into the right direction, whistling and with a smile on your face...
And somewhere, deep in the darkness of the forest, the music plays on... (Online August 19, 2003)