Story by Chris Davies

The ocarina is a unique instrument. Say the word to any of several hundred million people who were actively playing videogames in the late 1990s, and it will instantly conjure up memories from a much-beloved game.

 

In the world of Zelda, the ocarina, and the music it produces, causes wondrous things to happen to the world. Play the Song of Time, and time itself becomes your plaything. Play the Song of Storms, and the weather is yours to command. But does the magic of the ocarina extend beyond the kingdom of Hyrule?

 

Sure, you can't make it rain on command. And no, you PROBABLY can't turn back time (experiments on this continue). However, there is something special about the ocarina, which anyone who plays can tell you.

 

You lose yourself while playing. You really do. One moment you're lifting your fingers on and off holes, fiddling with a piece of ceramic. The next, you're miles away, lost in the sea of music flowing from your hands. You cease to realize that you're playing a physical instrument, and instead, you come to feel that the music is coming from deep within you, your body merely a conduit.

 

I've played my ocarina in every environment imaginable. A park, a shopping center, a school, at work, at home, outside, in the forest, in public. And each time, I learn something new about it, myself, or the world.

 

I once sat, ocarina in hand, on a park bench, on a calm summer day. The park was fairly busy, but in my own little corner of that park, I felt the urge to just start playing. So I did. I played soft songs, I played slow songs. And after a short time, I closed my eyes and let the music take me away.

 

I don't know how long it was before I opened my eyes again, but as I did, I was immediately struck by how different I, and the world around me, felt. I felt...looser, relaxed, at peace. The world felt quieter, as if all life had paused while I played, paused to listen, paused to take a breath.

 

Since that day, I have made sure to play my ocarina at that same place at least every week, just so I can feel again what it is like, to feel as though I am influencing and changing the world around me.

 

To you, I don't know whether you play the ocarina. If you do, perhaps you know the feeling I am describing. If you don't, you are yet to understand what a joy it is.

 

Join me in that joy.

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