I listen to the title track of a Scottish detective series called Shetland, and recall what Europe must have lost. It’s a world that I cannot actually recall of course, having never lived in it. But as the violin reaches up towards the sky, I feel a deep inquiry stir within me– the kind of inquiry that can only take place under leaden skies. This violin (or perhaps I should call it a fiddle?), it is like a fine blade, cutting across my spirit and wordlessly revealing the questions that I usually keep inside. Perhaps others feel the same way. It opens our souls up to the sky, creating a relationship within which we can ask for clarity amidst our despairs.

Shetland is set on an island of the same name, located between the Scottish mainland and the southern coast of Norway. It is a grisly show, filled with devastating horrors that can only be perpetrated by, and upon, people who know each other a little too well. It is profoundly lonely while at the same time being one of television’s most close-knit stories. But the title music lets go of all of that… or rather, it invites us to take the burdens of living with others, and living with ourselves, and cast them off to the sky, or to the sea.

I feel like it must be the music of people who know great expanses of nature, be they above them or ahead of them, and also know what it feels like to be unquestionably alone in that expanse. And yet, in that relationship, life does not feel so utterly lonely after all. Or if it does, it is in the company of a mysterious presence, a mysterious force.

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