Italy as a Buddhist Meditation (or “the Green Day concert that wasn’t”)

Interesting title, yes?  I will try to explain…

Sunday we went to Bologna for the I-Day Festival, with our favorite band headlining – Green Day.  I had bought the tickets online months ago (95 euros) and even talked about it in an earlier blog.  This was a big deal to us and we had been looking forward to it since before we moved here (imagine your own all-time favorite – the Beatles or the Boss or Lada Gaga).  Here’s what it took to go to the festival: 1) since the last train back from Bologna leaves about the time Green Day was to take the stage, we had to figure out how to get home (couldn’t stay overnight as Steve had work in the morning), so 2) we decided to rent a car (98 euros, plus gas and tolls); 3) to get the car we left home a little after 8:30 a.m. and walked 40 minutes to the bus station, took a bus (12 euros) to the Florence airport, then took the shuttle bus to the rental car place (will be repeating in reverse to return); 4) Steve bravely navigated us to the outskirts of Bologna where we promptly got lost and 5) in my baby-Italian eventually got directions from some nice pedestrians.  We made it to the fair grounds about 1:00.

There was already quite the line of folks waiting to stake out a good spot on the lawn (all open seating). Green Day wasn’t scheduled to appear until about 9:00 (there were earlier bands), so we had planned to go into town on a bus to have lunch and go to my (still) favorite gelateria – La Sorbetteria.  At this point I’ll make the long story shorter – after unsuccessfully trying to get into town on a bus, we gave up and decided just to go into the fair grounds and pay too much for crumby fair food.  After quite a wait in line I was reminded that some bathrooms (in this case porta-potties) in Europe are still the hole-in-the-floor kind (ACK!).

MUCH to our surprise, the fair grounds were huge, and had an impressive array of (normally priced) food selections from across the globe.  There was sushi and African food and Indian food, and of course, many varieties of Italian food, to name a few (photo, below).  We chose a seafood restaurant (yes, they pretty much built an entire restaurant in a huge tent) and had the most delicious, typically leisurely (2 hour) Italian meal.  Never in a million years did I expect to get to eat mussels in a garlic and white wine broth and the yummiest assortment of fried seafood (“frito misto,” pictured below) at a Green Day concert!  So far, so good (well, after the bathroom part)…

At about 5:00, after seeing how many people had entered the actual concert area, we decided we’d better go stake out a spot and hunker down until Green Day arrived.  Just staking out a place was its own cultural experience, but there we were – the anticipation building. From the number of Green Day t-shirts in the massive crowd (pictured below), it was apparent we were among fellow fans (we had also spotted shirts on the bus and in the airport in Florence).   From the title of this post, you already know where this is going, but that’s almost beside the point – it’s what happened after that that’s the real moral of the story.

At about 7:30 (after Social Distortion left the stage), someone came out and matter-of-factly announced (I wasn’t sure I was understanding correctly, but I was) that the lead singer of Green Day was ill, the concert was cancelled and please exit to your left.  Steve and I were in shock – what the heck?!?!?  Were they serious?!?!?!  Was this a joke?!?!?!  After all the time and effort and expense it took to get here?!?!?!  And then it happened – we expected to look around at 20,000 other upset people, all angry and disappointed (and maybe an overturned porta potty or two) – but everyone else looked….fine.  More than fine – they looked to be in the same happy, festival-going mood they were in 5 minutes earlier.  Wow.  It was a little hard to comprehend….

And then we wondered – how could we let ourselves be angry and upset and disappointed when everyone else looked so nonplussed?  We couldn’t.   And that is how Italy is a form of Buddhist mediation – teaching by example how to let go of attachment and expectation and suffering, and just going with the universe as it unfolds.


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  1. What a great lesson! Imagine that happening in the US. The fans would have started booing and throwing bottles (well, maybe not, since they would be Green Day fans, who must be pretty cool since I’m one myself!)

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