Sunday, May 17, 2009

Papa Sigi and Ravi Shankar ~

Papa Sigi (my grandfather) and I ~

Yesterday, I spoke with my grandfather. He turned 92 last week. He still looks like he's sixty; out in his garden on most days planting seeds and digging weeds. He's often found in cut off jean shorts and gum boots, chopping wood and stacking it against the shed.

He told me that it's hard to believe he's 92 this year and that he remembers 29 like it was yesterday. He told me that he has lived the best life and that he can barely believe his good fortune. He told me that the luckiest thing to have happened to him was to have lived through the hungry thirties. "After that, he said, a person is never in want of anything again. Yes, he said, I have had a good life, I am still having a good life, I am the luckiest person in the world Nao."

"What is the secret to such happiness," I asked him, and he said, three things: "not worrying, not envying and lots of sleep." After a half an hour of delightful conversation, I put the phone down, without saying goodbye of course, as my grandfather believes that there is too much finality in those words, and that nothing is ever final. So when we part ways, we only say, I love you, and then we hang up the phone, or walk away, and there is never a goodbye between us.

Later that same day, I spent the evening, in an old baroque theatre, listening to the 89 year old Sitar Master, Ravi Shankar. It was one of the most extraordinary things I have ever been privileged to witness. There he sat, on that elegant stage, in his Indian slippers, speaking only to announce each Raga and then he played with a radiant smile on his face, his eyes closed, his head tilted toward the sky. He played 2 songs over an hour and a half. It was like being inside a prayer.

While I sat there, the classical sitar music of India enveloping me in like sunshine, I thought, here is another wise man, who like my grandfather has also lived through the majority of this past century. And despite the fact that he has lived an entirely different life to my Papa Sigi, the quality of the smile on his face seemed to reveal the same sense of gratitude that my grandfather, in his little wooden house, in a small Canadian town, on the edge of a grassy field also knows.

The wisdom of one who has lived and loved and lost is truly a wonderful thing to experience.

This post is dedicated to Papa Sigi Kuraoka and Ravi Shankar, both Gurus in their own right.



Wendy said...

You always have such uplifting stories to tell. I really enjoy reading your blog, thank you, my day is brighter now!

ArtSparker said...

What a lovely portrait of your and your grandfather, in words as well as photo. Hearing a musician whose work you you love is one of the most uplifting experiences there is.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Lovely tribute, and photograph, of your grandfather. Happy Birthday to him. He provides such wise advice.

I was born on the same day as Ravi Shankar. My husband has always said that was a good thing.

Art4Sol said...

You are truly blessed!

herhimnbryn said...

Blessed are you.

pinkrelish said...

Nao, Ravi Shankar -- you are so into the good stuff girl. Papa Sigi another good message from his lips.
This thing, this thing they call happiness; it is not laughing and parading and noisiness, yes those are all good in moderation, but happiness, happiness is mostly (I have found)in the elimination of the 'desire mind'.
In this mindlessness -- peace.
I find it every now and then, and when I do...there is room, finally lots of room.

I love you Nao, and always you inspire and uplift me!

Rowan said...

Your grandfather is a wise man and looks a happy man too, it's so good to hear someone of his age saying that they have had a great life and he's obviously still enjoying it too. He's a great example to us all.