Riding Metro North. With Massenet.


I’m on the first train. I’m with my commuters deep into the morning papers. The silence is broken for three short intervals – the conductor collecting tickets and two stops on the Express. Otherwise, a library. 55 minutes of heaven.

Yet, the silence is thundering.

EBOLA. Mid-term elections. School shootings. Shooting rampage in the Canadian Parliament. Ukraine. Work-budget-goals. Man attacks NYC cops with a hatchet. Markets tumbling. Afghanistan. Iraq. Syria. Hong Kong protesters. Millions of air bag recalls. Stepfather Charged After 3-Year-Old Girl Beaten to Death at Brooklyn Shelter. OMG. Turn the page. Turn the page. Turn the page. Unable to find something Good, I put away the news, close my eyes, lean my head against the window and drift into Grand Central.

I twist in my ear buds, first right and then left. I exit the train to 42nd street with hundreds of early morning commuters.

Zibby introduces Jesse to classical music in Liberal Arts; DK had no such Muse. Yet, the impact is no less Divine. The biting winds of darkness and doubt whistling through the skull are placed on Pause. My 12-minute cross-town walk is filled with ethereal beauty, a peace, a calmness, a lightness. The delivery trucks. The yellow cabs, honey bees buzzing in and out. The shop owner opening the gate. A construction worker taking a long pull on his cigarette. A student sipping coffee in an empty Diner. The leaves on a lonely tree rustling from the gust of a passing bus. All of it, a symphony.

Dear Zibby, I can’t thank you enough for introducing me to this music.  Beyond just geniunely loving it, I feel it’s quietly altering my feeling about New York City with which I’ve always had a slightly conflicted relationship. I found if you replace the horns and the shouting with say, Schubert or Telamon, the city becomes unbearably beautiful. After years of thinly disguised rage on both our parts, it’s like the music has mediated a truce between us.  Some early favorites…Massenet’s Meditation, if there’s been a more beautiful piece of music has been composed, I don’t know it…
The other day I was crossing the street, lost in my head about something, a not uncommon state of affairs, I was listening to the overture, when the music started to swell. I suddenly realized that I had hands and legs and a torso, and I was surrounded by people and cars. It’s hard to explain exactly what happened, but I felt in that moment that the Divine, however we may choose to define such a thing, surely dwells as much in the concrete and the taxi cabs as it does rivers, lakes and mountains. Grace, I realized, is neither time or place dependent, all we need is the right soundtrack…

All we need is the right soundtrack.

I approach the office. The music begins to fade. I take the ear buds out, and walk through security.

Game time.



  1. Movie trailer looks great…..

    Liked by 1 person

  2. yes, all we need is the right soundtrack….wonderful, dk –

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dave – I miss my hometown and I love the way you place me in the middle of it with your prolific short stories. On this one, you’ve triggered great memories of how I started changing my soundtracks. As an 80s teen with a Sony Walkman walking across Manhattan I enjoyed listening to the varied rhythms of Salsa, the urban beats of hip hop, U2s Boy, and masterful Jazz from the Lincoln Center. Then, one Autumn day, I experienced the greatness of Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic’s renditions of the classical greats. All of this, while enjoying the staccato and syncopated sites of mi isla – Manhattan. Thanks, man! I appreciate the reprieve from Fall in South Florida to Autumn in New York.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Joel. Thank you. You whisked me away with you comment. I did the same over time – changing playlists as I aged and during the seasons and with my mood. Hope you and your family are doing well.


  4. Wonderful essay. I’m going to check out the movie, too. Somehow I missed it when it came out.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Michael Zahaby says:

    if you like Massenet, her’s another Massenet recommendation for you. From the opera Werther the aria “Pourquoi me reveiller”. It will soothe to no end

    Liked by 2 people

  6. absolutely love it.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is a fantastic description of your commute that a number of us can relate to. Beautiful descriptions for such an everyday task of travelling to work. Love it. I’ve never heard of that movie before either, the trailer looks good.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Beautiful, pal. I especially love the visual of the yellow cabs as honey bees. I know I say it all the time, but I’m going to keep saying it. You. Have. A. Gift. (And the movie looks great–I see a bowl of popcorn and a lazy Sunday afternoon divertissement in my future… 🙂 )

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lori, thank you. You “know” how I feel about your work. I don’t / can’t aspire to operate at that level, but I slash around in my own way. I found this quote offering inspiration and solace (esp the stumbling part)…

      I have often felt, in fact, that the only coherent, consecutive thought I am capable of comes about through my own writing and through reading other writers. Here I return to my earlier point about the personal essay as a mode or method of discovery—of discovering such truth as is available to the essayist and to his readers. Some writers do not begin a composition—be it a magazine article or a full-blown book—until all the fact-finding that goes by the pretentious name of research is completed. The personal essayist—if my own experience is in any way exemplary—stumbles into facts as he goes along. He writes out of his experience, seen through the lens of his character, projected onto the page through the filter of his style. Experience, character, style—these things, if the personal essayist is lucky, will come together to supply a point of view.

      ~ Joseph Epstein, A Literary Education and Other Essays. (Axios Press)

      Liked by 1 person

    • And this one:

      Mediocre essays, I can swear after months of reading, are never as boring as mediocre fiction because, even in the hands of the inept, the lives we actually live or witness are more interesting than the ones most of us can (or dare to) invent from scratch.

      ~ Joseph Epstein, A Literary Education and Other Essays. Axios Press. Kindle Edition.

      Liked by 1 person

    • And sorry, one more. This one too.

      The first personal essay I ever wrote was written when I was thirty-one and was, in fact, closer to a memoir than to a personal essay. But I found myself greatly elated in writing about that sweetest of subjects—my own experience. Thirty-one, it occurs to me now, may be young to write personal essays. The personal essay is perhaps intrinsically a middle-aged or older writer’s form in that it calls for a certain experience of life and the disposition to reflect upon that experience.

      ~ Joseph Epstein, A Literary Education and Other Essays (p. 380). Axios Press.

      Liked by 1 person

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