She was sitting in front of me. A cute happa girl. Reading a book and generally minding her own business.
He came on carrying a long wooden stick and worn rucksack. Blonde dreadlocks and goatee. The weathered look of a traveler, or at least of having been outdoors a lot.
There were lots of free seats, but he decisively choose the one next to hers.
“Mind if I put this next to you?” he asked her of his long wooden stick.
She looked up from her book. “No, not at all.”
He gently placed it against the wall.
“What is it?” she asked.
“A rain stick,” he said. “It allows me to carry the weather with me. To practice what I preach.”
She lowered her book. “Oh?”
“I teach yoga,” he continued. “The rain stick is an instrument of peace and relaxation. Hearing the rain, listening to nature is the penultimate way to connect and feel everything around you. To be with and along and a part of everything. To be holistic, mentally and spiritually, with the world.”
“Wow, I’ve never thought a rain stick could symbolize that much.”
“It is the sky and the clouds and the water cleansing the earth. Cleansing all of us. You ever wonder why the sound of water is so peaceful? The sound of ocean waves or the falling rain?”
She turned to him. “I never wondered about it. It just is.”
“Exactly. It just is. It’s because it is a part of nature, as are all of us. A part of nature. A cyclical part of this world. What comes down goes through us and returns back to the sky. The rain stick is a metaphor, then, for all of us, for the cycle of life, and for peace.”
I groaned in my seat and considered putting on my headphones. But at the same time, I couldn’t turn away. I was fascinated.
“That’s pretty intense.”
He laughed. “That’s my trade. I’m still trying to find my place here. I just moved up from LA, where I had a bunch of celebrities as my students. Some are totally new age, so I guess some of that has rubbed off on me.”
“Oh, you’re from LA? How do you like San Francisco so far?”
“I love San Fran!” (First chink in the armor Ted. I think I saw her cringe a bit. Tip for non-San Franciscans: the locals here don’t like it when you call this city “San Fran.”)
“Why did you move up here?” she asked.
“The whole vibe of this city. It’s such a mecca of the creative, the artistic, the soulful and the community. For me, as a yoga instructor, I can also find a lot of work here. A lot of places are hiring. I just need to find one that speaks to me as much as I can contribute to them. Do you do yoga?”
“I try to. Sometimes I work so much that I don’t have time though, but I really should. I really should.”
“I’ll give you some free lessons to ease back into it. This art can be as quick or time-consuming as you need it. Truly, it’s very flexible. Even just a little yoga in your schedule can strengthen your body and relax your soul. For someone who works a lot, I think you would find it tremendously helpful.”
“Wow, thanks. I can’t accept your free lessons, but…”
“No need to pay me at all, really. Since I’m new in town, what would really help me out is a tour guide. This is my first time in San Fran…” (cringe) “…and if you’re willing to help me orient myself in this wonderful city of yours, I would be eternally grateful.”
The bus lurched to a stop. Great, it was my stop. Just when the conversation was getting good. I got up just as she was giving him her business card – and presumably, her number. I never knew a rain stick could be a good pick-up tool, but, hey, I guess it can. Smooth, Mr. LA Yoga Instructor, smooth.