April 2o, 2016
I attended my first Bo?ai funeral today and the celebration of all life and all death that followed. The Pandas are beginning to trust me and I was allowed to be full participant,. When a tribe gathers for an event everyone attending is willingly involved - Everyone is “ON THE SHOW”. I was a part of all that was presented and was thanked profusely by the family for my contribution. However, the pleasure was all mine for I can honestly say It was the most glorious event I have ever attended, with music - dancing - skits and games all of which passed down by the grandparents with each generation changing them slightly, changing them to fit the times, or changing them only to have them change. I will tell you more about these astonishing aspects of Bo?ai culture as I learn them. I can say the life and death story of this old Panda was told with humor and respect and the production values of a Broadway musical. It was the most glorious event I have ever attended,
The guest of honor, what the departed is often called, was an uncle of my host, YhYu. I had met him last week and he appeared to be in perfect health, spry and nimble, as he silently helped YhYu’s wife, HuMe, pick the fresh BluBamBoo for our afternoon Punch, one of the many rituals that accompany this vital afternoon social and relaxation time. After YhYu said a few words in an ancient dialect, something about the GreatAndPureGiraffe, solar powered toothbrushes, and growing old gracefully - not really a prayer more like a text message to god. We sat down and started our afternoon repast of BluBamBoo and Panda Punch. The uncle, who, up to this point, had been quiet and painfully polite, abruptly stood up and started speaking in an embarrassing loud manner painfully over enunciating each word as if YhYu, HuMe, and myself had severe learning disorders. We don’t.
“The only being qualified to speak on the topic of being old is one who is...old. I have been your age dear nephew, but you have never been mine. You live for the future whereas I live only for the now. You wake each morning and plan, plan your day - your week your life. This is as it should be, you live for the future, your sooncome. Your lovely and talented wife and your two healthy young cubs live for their sooncome. So, for this you must all have a strategy. You must take care of that future so that future can take care of you. This...”
For the first time the wise old Panda’s eyes looked straight into mine - I felt them more than I saw them.
“This is my future... right now - this minute, my sooncome has come and is going, my planing days are over and, dear family, I miss them. But, I miss them as I miss a loved one who has gone on to be what they were before they were, everything leaves never to come back... everything except love felt and memories created. It’s not a sad day, the day you wake up and realize you are old, the day your future becomes your now. That’s also the day you cash in the past, those memories and love become your scores, and listen to me children now, they ARE keeping score. Everyone needs to win, not come in first., not beat their opponent, but win. Once the love felt and the memories earned join you in the now you have enough points to do just that, to win, and once you win the rest of your life is gravy, delicious gravy”.
After his speech - I learned later that this something that old Bo?tai men do, they preempt the conversation with a emotional tirade that everyone, out of respect, must listen to - they do this so that they will be considered a major contributor to the dialog without keeping up with the fashion of ideas. After this small but illuminating show YhYu ’s uncle sat back down and were continued with our punch, having pleasant fellowship until dark. The next day YhYu received notice that his uncle had died peacefully in his sleep of old age - he was 34, very old for a Panda.
The death celebration took a lot out pf everyone and the Bo?ai Panda village which is to be my home for the next 13 months is quiet - everyone is asleep., everyone but me. I lie awake in my little tree bed (the bed is little not the tree) and think of home, my darling wife, family and friends I add up my points - I drift off to sleep - I dream of biscuits - I dream of gravy.
just say yes!
meet Andy Ward King, a professional musician and artist until a diagnosis of parkinons dsease at age 49 forced him into an early retirement., he now uses his music, his art along with the whimsical world he has created in this blog as therapy to ( as he puts it ) outsmart his brain and make the daily battles with parkinson’s a little bit easier, to give him that all important reason to get up on the morning, to make his life worth living. Andy has learned how to say NO to gving up \ NO to depression and apathy \ NO to following willingly the road of decline that stretches before him. he learned that to say no to all of these things all one has to do is say yes. Andy has learned to just say YES to life/\\