Boston in June
All my life I have been told to control my impulses but if growing up watching Star Trek taught me anything, life is more interesting running on impulse power. (I’m Givin’ er all I got Cap’n!)
That explains how I ended up finding the ‘T’ Station in Newburyport, Massachusetts in mid 2022. I didn’t get the impulse to hop the train until I found the MBTA app offering $10 weekend passes on all rails. At those prices I couldn’t afford not to go. I believe an all day subway (underground) pass was $13.95. (Pocket Change).
I worried when I saw there was construction and in hindsight, this story is unbelievable. (Foreshadowed and forewarned) Never a cub scout but always wont to be prepared, I called ahead. The MBTA answered on the first ring! DaFuq!? The woman assured me I would proceed unimpeded.
I pedaled myself to the train station at 10am. Arriving as the conductor was taking passes. (Perfect timing) He explained the ease but I was reluctant to believe. Believe I did as all went according to plan; Including the bus transfers necessitated by the unplanned construction.
I realize it is their profession but I have to confess my disbelief. (Again in hindsight) I never once paused a second to worry as I left a train, men in vests flagged me to the buses that arrived on the spot, No lines, no waiting, two trains, two buses, Ramshackle ramps and I was in Boston on schedule and in a New York Minute!
I got off the train and onto the T and decided to act like a tourist. I asked a rando where I should go? She asked if I had been to the North End? I thought, (The Nor’Tend), cause I been to Boston before. She explained the can’t miss churches. I followed her directions and stepped out the door, But soon found myself bored. It had all been done before.
I turned back toward the Common, thinking I would become a commoner. That is where my serindipitious surrender began. I had a picnic lunch, of sorts, of assorted fruits. Banana, Strawberry, Apples and Cheddar Cheese, (Vegans please) Unsurprisingly the only seat available, availed me of a sight, and sound to see. An almost life sized, 5 foot tall, China doll tuning the keys on her used Takamine.
I understand a girl has got to make a livin’, but this girl was makin’ a livin’ playing my life through song… Right in front of my eyes and directly between my ears.
Sweet Caroline, Country Roads, Mrs. Robinson… I’d had enough of this affair; I packed up, stood up, walked up, and dropped five bucks into her rolling blue bucket. A quarter of my funds was only a drop in her bucket. She was makin’ bank!
I meandered down Tremont St. and encountered another train. Asking another stranger for directions, I was directed in the direction off Harvard Square. (How do you like them apples?)
[Weird Part Alert: You know there’s always a weird part, right?]
After a half day of riding buses and trains, (no planes) I realized it was the first time that day I had to wait for transportation. The electronic sign above said eight minutes and I sat and proceeded to wait. I took a look to my left and right and wondered if I could be arrested for disturbing the peace for playing a piece of music sans headphones.
The first song I chose was “Preachin’ Blues” by Son House.(Old news, but it was new to me, at the time)
I say, I’m gonna get me religion, I’m gonna join the Babtist Church…
You know, I wanna be a Babtist Preacher, so I won’t hafta work.Son House
A woman to my right did indeed look disturbed. She fled the scene. I supposed I found the answer to my question. Learning my lesson, I picked up my phone to lessen the volume when a man I would later describe as Indian, (Dot not feather, dressed as a casual Friday businessman. Loafers, Khaki’s and a button down plaid) walked in my direction and questioned my choice in music.
“What is that sound? (Slight accent) Who is the singer? Is he from the Deep South? “
He further explained he had a deep appreciation for music around the world and explained how he finds new music on NPR World Music Show. I told him about the cover version of “Hotel California” I had seen on YouTube performed by a group of youngsters in the jungles of Sri Lanka.
“That is where I was born! Not really, but a village nearby… There is no money to be made so you do what you can, every little bit helps.”
The train rolled up and we boarded. As soon as the doors closed his demeanor changed. He got serious.
“Listen, you do the meditation, it is just breathing, that’s all it is, breathing.”
I got excited, “I know, I know, I like to breathe real slow, I first learned of three breaths a minute but now I slip down to two.”
He didn’t blink an eye, “Then the Yoga, it is only stretching, 20 minutes a day. That is it, stretching.”
We were standing, swaying in the doorway of the speeding train. He urgently tried to explain.
“Read the Suttas, the Suttas, go to the parks where the people hang out and meet them.”
During the train ride he made these points, calmly but insistent. He wasn’t trying to get me to join any organization or sell me something. He didn’t even tell me his name. He seemed as if he had a short time to deliver a message to me and wanted to be clear.
I had no idea why he wanted me to hear all this. The train stopped. We walked along and he pulled out his phone again, Before you go I want you to remember this song. It is very good. “Way Down We Go” KALEO
I looked to the Harvard Square sign and said I am going this way, he nodded to the right and we parted ways. I guess he had nothing more to say?
A few months later I was confused by his accent in my memory. I finally searched the Suttas. It was the same script I had been tripping over since I first got serious about breathing.
Wikipedia: Anapanasati… When I met the man on the train I was still counting my breath. Now I bounce between bouncing around the room to “Relinquishing the Mind?” I am no Buddhist.
IfI had not brought up Sri Lanka, in the context of The Eagles cover, I don’t believe he would have mentioned India.
I am basic, white haired, white dude, sitting on the platform, waiting for the train. We start talking about music and he takes a left and gives me instructions on meditation? Odds were I would have told him to get bent, right?
I breathe in long, I discern I am breathing in long? I ain’t no freakin’ monk! I also have panic attacks and stop breathing…
What do you think it means?