When I feel a bit like I'm losing by ability to pay attention to anything longer than five minutes, theres one song I always like to listen to, to remind myself to slow down.
That song is Leslie Fish's Horse Tamer's Daughter.
And I think she might be just what we need to take back some of What We've Lost (that we had in the supposed Good Olde Dayes!).
The main thing people know the song for is that it's *long*. To the point where people complain.
But I think that's a good thing. There's not many songs that really should go on that long (Even Orden Ogan gets a bit excessive sometimes). But some should.
With how busy the world seems to keep us, you don't always have time to read, watch, or listen to anything for ten minutes. And when you do, sometimes anxiety can keep you busy anyway.
But when you can, it's amazing. A lot of modern forms of communication just aren't focused on any kind of extended experience. They're quick briefings of bad news.
Even memes, for all the joy they bring us, have a dark side. They have instant appeal, but they just don't fulfill the need for a deep dive into a work.
Horse Tamer's Daughter isn't your usual tale of heroism. It opens simply enough, describing her life with her mother and father, catching and training horses, and finding an old ruined tower that seems to creep people out.
Statements like "I never called them to the rope, for their trust I'd not betray" carry a sense of acceptance that stands in contrast to the need to always be doing something, changing something, and looking for something new that seems to pervade modern life.
Sure, we all watch Netflix... Or do we? Seems pretty popular to have another screen by your side on the couch. We spend a lot of time on entertainment, but much of that time is full of exactly the thoughts we tell ourselves we're taking a break from.
Later on in the song, we learn that at some point in the past, the wizards were coming and taking the children (For an unknown purpose), and although they are poor, many are just glad to have no such tyranny over them.
Compare that to the present day, when so many are affected by "lifestyle inflation", unsatisfied even though they have exactly what they worked for all their lives, never noticing the quest for more isn't making them happy.
At this point, the tower is her favorite place to play. It's where she found a magic mirror that showed her visions. She knows it's something special, but she doesn't have big future plans for it.
But as the wizards arrive, they see the girl through her scrying-spell, and the tower itself, full of magical energy waiting to be awakened("It may be still that within our will that tower will awake again").
The word "Again" implies they know the tower's history. And the surprise implies they may have tried to wake it up in the past. Whatever they did wasn't working. But something is different now.
I'm not exactly sure how the magic system in this universe works. But maybe the tower wasn't "asleep" at all. It was *exhausted*.
Maybe the wizards used it for so many aggressive, forceful spells that the power just collapsed.
Or maybe when "the land was torn by war", it really was the enemy who broke it down. In any case, it was loud and aggressive. And the wizards were just trying more of the same.
Someone who just lost a boxing match isn't going to be helped much by more shaking and slaps to the face. If they had any more energy to respond to that, they wouldn't have lost.
So the tower hid and isolated itself, just like a person might, after enough trauma.
But when she came, she didn't make any attempt at all to wake the tower up. She didn't even seem to know it was asleep. It was just a cool old ruins that seemed to speak to her.
Which, at that point, was what it had become. The tower noticed her because she saw it in the present, not some imagined future.
She also doesn't treat the tower like some untouchable ancient relic. She uses the mirror for what it's meant for, she plays in the ruins.
She works with the tower as appropriate for it's present state, without comparing it it's past or present potential.
(Similarly, if you feel like total crap, it might not do much good to try to be Employee of the Century tomorrow, but you should probably still check the mail and do the laundry).
Seeing all this, the wizards run towards the tower. She sends a psychic call out to all the wild horses, and together they raise a ring of light and fight the wizards, who are quickly defeated and decided to leave the land alone.
In the end, although she had no plans to be the tower's keeper, she becomes exactly that. With no robes or blue stone, the tower becomes a place full of fresh straw where the horses come and go (Presumably a big break from usual tower-tradition), and she becomes defender of the land.
This is not a story of winning through you strength or your smarts or some artifact of power.
This is a story about winning through what you *aren't* doing. A reminder to slow down. Slow is smooth and smooth is fast, says the old army saying.
If you look at any fountain pen, you'll find a hole. You wouldn't think cutting a hole in something makes it stronger. But if that hole wasn't there, the gap between the two tines would grow and rip the tip apart.
This song should be a reminder to move carefully, and make sure your actions are really helping.
As I was finishing writing this, I noticed my hands really hurt a lot, on account of too many bus rides and subsequent hand washings. I then caught myself worrying about the time putting on lotion takes. A perfect real life example of an aggressive hurry!
If you can, take the time to fix that hole in your pants, to send that email, and whatever else The Big Hurry is keeping you from.
Sometimes there's a time for(well planned!) active, aggressive action to solve a problem. But sometimes the solution is not to take all that much action at all. https://youtu.be/fuGIBX9FGZQ