Have you ever been sitting on a bus or at work and had a song going through your head with such perfect clarity that it was as if you were actually listening to the song through headphones? Well, I just had one of those experiences, but unlike most times this one was worldview-changing. I was catching the city bus after work to get to my car this evening. Sitting across from me was an elderly Asian man wearing headphones. I was minding my own business “listening” to some Green Day in my head, my wife having recently bought me a copy of the new “Bullet in a Bible” CD/DVD release.
So there I was thinking along with “American Idiot” when I noticed out of the corner of my eye that the Asian man was tapping his fingers. I looked up at him and saw his lips faintly moving as well, and all of sudden it was as if I had been punched in the gut. For the man’s mouth was moving absolutely perfectly in time with the song running through my head. And it wasn’t like when you're listening to music and watching TV with the volume off and notice little entertaining synchronizations. It was WORD FOR WORD.
The space around me seemed to constrict, and that’s when I noticed that his finger tapping was also in time with “my” music, his left forefinger tapping out the bass drum and his right forefinger hitting the snare, exactly as I do. But he was wearing headphones, the trailing wires running into his left hand jacket-pocket. My fight or flight response kicked in and I felt that head-lifting sense of an adrenaline shot. I thought “no way, this isn’t really happening, what the hell is wrong with me?” Instantly I changed songs in my head to “Basket Case”, watching him intently. I think my heart literally stopped when I clearly saw the old man mouth the words “sometimes I give myself the creeps”. I could almost FEEL my pupils dilating beyond normal physiological function. Suddenly he looked up at me, reached his hand into the pocket where the headphone wire lead, and stopped silently singing.
It was a moment I will never forget in all of my life. Time was moving easily at a quarter of its normal pace as the muscles around his lips tightened, his face constricted, his squinty eyes becoming even harder to find. The overall visage of this aging grey-haired man had suddenly become the warmest smile I believe I have ever seen. The bus had come to a stop. The man slowly rose from his seat, gave me a quick wink, and stepped off the bus.
And the fact of the matter is that the only part of the above that is true is the part where I was sitting on a bus across from an elderly Asian man.
Tiny eyes open
And see the distant future
Entropy sets in
Twirling and growing
The massive cradle does churn
Specks are we in it