At times the singing voice of Mananaan Mac Lir rises above the din of the sea to reach my ears in a symphony of longing and serenity.
At other times, the din of silence drowns his voice out. Sometimes, the noise of my thoughts chasing and bleeding into one another destroy all sounds, and strain as I might, I cannot hear the singing.
It was a lesson that was hard to learn, and not one that was finished in one sitting. No, this lesson repeated itself time and time again. I think for the first million times I didn’t even bother to pay any attention, and even after I did, it repeated itself time and time again. I still forget and it still repeats itself. I have given up all dreams of diplomas for this lesson. It is an ongoing lesson that I will always get new opportunities to practice. I always have to start where I am. We all have to start where we are.
It was a shocking thing to be sitting there on the hill with Fionn. It wasn’t shocking to be sitting with the great hero on the hill, still breathless from the hunt, but shocking to experience the discomfort at the revelation in the answer he gave to the question – the answer I had heard a million times, and in that answer was all I ever needed to know about this lesson. It isn’t shocking to be, as some have told, a druid questioning Fionn. It is shocking to feel the amazement of being a druid questioning Fionn and receiving the answer.
His answer is even more shocking for me as a mere mortal, shocking in my humanness to be sitting here in the warmth of the hearth in a comfortable living room, far away from the hill after the chase, far away from being a druid. It is a shocking thing to consider the answer, as simple as it is. In its simplicity are the universes, inner, outer, and other.
Whether asked by a druid or by Fionn himself of his men, the question was:
what is the sweetest music of the world?