13 April 2014

It's Even Worse Than It Appears

It was a warm, summer Sunday and I prepared for my regular weekend long run. By 1987 I had run two Marathons and I thought of myself as a long-distance runner. My goal in running had always been not to finish last, and for the most part I had succeeded: in fact I finished almost always in the middle of the pack. And I always did finish.
            But mostly I ran long distances for reasons too complex to engage with here. In those days, in any given week I ran 40-50 miles including a long run of 10-20 miles on Sunday. Usually I joined the crowd in Central Park, but when I moved uptown to Washington Heights, I ran for a while along the Hudson River and then into Riverside Park.
            This morning I drank my cup of coffee and managed my bathroom duties, strapped my yellow Sony radio on my upper left arm (somewhere I had learned not to interrupt the energy flow on the right arm) and rode the elevator down.  Wishing a good morning to the door man, I plugged the head phones into my ears and pushed the ‘on’ button. It was my custom on these Sunday mornings to listen to Vin Scelsa’s program, Idiot’s Delight. We understood each other, and I desired on my Sundays no other company for the run.
            But this morning, the sound that filled my head was a chanting that went on for sometime. I had seen Hair; I knew about the power of “Om,” though I hadn’t ever indulged myself in this practice. But there it was moving through my head as I headed down the hill to the sidewalk path along which I would run. I looked briefly at the radio dial (ah, remember when there were such things?) to see if I had missed the station, but no, I was tuned to the right frequency. This had to be Vinny! Over the years I had come to expect a bit of strangeness from Idiot’s Delight, and I had confidence that some explanation, however absurd, would be forthcoming. I decided to wait out the chanting to see what was in the wind.
            After some relatively brief time Vin’s regular voice returned, and he offered a few wry comments on the harmonic convergence that was at that moment occurring throughout the world. It had been that event that had been the motive for his chanting!! The Harmonic Convergence was the world's first globally synchronized meditation. The event occurred on August 16–17, 1987. Indeed, when I arrived finally at 72nd Streetthe turn around for this morning’s runthere were dozens of people standing in large circles, holding hands, chanting, and trying to levitate the earth into something like Peace. This morning it had started with Vinny.
            It was also my 40th birthday. And immediately following his chanting and his wry comments on this event, Vin Scelsa queued up “Touch of Grey,” by the Grateful Dead. I believe this was one of the first airplays of the song that opened the Dead’s album In the Dark. It was also my 40th birthday. And they sang, “You can wear a touch of grey/Kinda suits you any way/That is all I’ve got to say/But, it’s alright/We will get by.” And the music floated me down the road for ten full miles and another thirty-seven years thus far.

            This many years gone, today I stood in the gym working out with my weights and machines listening still (this time on my iPod Shuffle) to “Touch of Grey.” And the music still floated me down the road for ten full miles and, I hope, it will do so for another several years.