The story of The Hanged Man.
When my wife left me for a second-rate French horn player, I spent weeks heartbroken. My proud antlers sagged. I would play my violin so hard that its strings snapped, but still I felt tied and unable to move. It was worse, having to watch her with her useless horn player during rehearsals and concerts. She still played the alto three chairs away from me and her lover was at the back of us both, breathing down my neck. Matters were made worse, because my wife would come back regularly to our house to fetch objects she had forgotten, and to bring our little fawn to see me. It was painful, for she treated me as an acquaintance, not as the husband I had been. I was unable to see her doe eyes and shy smile without thinking of the happy times we had had together. I lived in limbo – my wife was lost to me, but I saw her daily, and still felt the tug of belonging. At length, I grew so weary, I looked like my own violin strings – ready to snap. After the end of the main concert season, the conductor – Maître Hector – sent me off on an enforced holiday. “I do not want to see you or hear from you in Paris for at least a month. Make it two months! I want you to rest, practice, and meet a pretty little hind that will mend your heart.”
“But my wife, Maître?”
“She is no longer your wife. Accept her loss. I have sent them away on holiday too. Don’t worry, they will not move into your house in your absence.”
Reassured, I left for the countryside. It was my first holiday in years, and I had no idea what to do with myself. I took long walks in the forest, with my violin, and played for the birds and the deer. But still, I felt suspended in this half-life, neither with my wife, nor without her, punished for a crime I had not committed, unable to justify myself or move away from the anguish. I played pieces we had played together, and felt my throat squeeze. I stayed in a comfortable farmhouse by the edge of the forest of Compiègne and the farmwife was very kind – though despite her best efforts I was never very hungry. I left early in the morning, and wandered like a lost soul.
Little by little the animals in the forest got used to my violin. One day when I had wandered a long way without paying attention, I realised I was lost in a part of the forest I did not know. I walked on a little further until I reached a natural archway formed by the beeches, and a clearing with a deep pool. I stood under the archway by the pool and fixed my violin under my chin. From nowhere, an air started to sound in my mind and I picked it up on my violin. Had I heard it before, long ago, before I met my wife? Or was it a melody of angels sent to console me? All around me larks, thrushes, rabbits and squirrels were interrupting their business and listening. As I played, I felt a transformation spread over me, subtle at first, then growing like the sun coming over the trees. At that moment, a ray of sunlight touched my forehead, and I felt as though everything that had been jammed inside me loosened and all constraints fell. I did not see my wife in my mind’s eye, and the thought of her was no longer painful. Warmth, compassion and acceptance spread through my body. I was free.