Michio Kushi Memorial Service Speeches – Francisco Varatojo
This post is part of a series presenting full transcripts of speeches given at the Michio Kushi Memorial Service in Boston on January 31, 2015.
FRANCISCO (CHICO) VARATOJO
Hello good afternoon! Midori and Norio, and Haruo, and Phiya and Hisao, thank you so much for asking me to pay this last tribute to your father. It’s an honor and pleasure. Everyone has spoke a lot about Michio in different ways. I will talk a little bit about my relationship with him and what I knew about Michio as a human being.
I got to know him in 1977, I believe August 16, 1977. I am not sure of the date, I am sure of the month. I was 16 then. I was a young kid just starting macrobiotics and Michio, Aveline, and some of the children and some other friends, one of them – Bill Spear – here tonight, here this afternoon, I’m sorry, were there. So I went to the seminar. I sat in the first row and Michio called me on stage. I was extremely nervous, more than I am now, and I am a bit nervous. So, and you know we had this nail clipper demonstration – this famous counter-clockwise, clockwise things so – I got the counter-clockwise spiral and I thought he was reading my mind, knowing everything about my life, my past life, I really thought so! I was scared to death. So, I think he put his hand on my shoulder and it was obvious I was pretty nervous.
You know he had this mantra, which he said to many, many people, particularly young people which was, “Please come to Boston!” So I think he spelled that mantra – I mean he used to say this to everyone. I remember him in, like, in all consultations saying, “Please come to Boston” and in classes. So, I got it too. And this was like an enchanted word – would actually made me fly to Boston a few months later, February actually. It was very, very cold like now, I remember. I landed in Logan Airport. It was 15 degrees Celsius in Lisbon and it was minus 20. It was the coldest day of the winter, similar to the time we are in right now, for what was the biggest adventure of my life which was actually studying macrobiotics. Just out of, “Please come to Boston” sentence.
And over the years I was actually quite lucky to get to know Michio in many of his facets: Michio the father, Michio the husband, Michio the teacher, Michio the counselor, Michio the philosopher, Michio the politician, Michio the businessman. Michio could embody all of these really well. I mean he was one time discussing politics and the other time he was closing a contract at the same time he was giving advice to someone who was sick. So, Michio had this personality who really embodied lots of personalities but I think for the ones, the ones of us present here – the teachers, the students, teachers who studied with him – I think Michio was, more than anything else, our teacher. The one who drew spirals on the blackboard and the one who made the relationship with everything, like Evan Root was saying or taught oriental diagnosis or gave us consultations.
For me Michio was somehow, and someone else said this already, somehow my second father, not taking anything from you guys. So it was like both Michio and Aveline were like my second parents pretty much literally I can think. He was always like, he was always like the big teacher. One of his capacities was actually this capacity of really drawing people. I remember people in his lectures, they would hardly understand his English, which was actually pretty bad most of the time, and – but they would feel drawn by his energy. They would feel drawn by his quality. I remember one time we were actually in an airplane in Brazil and Michio stood up to go to the toilet or something and there was a lady who came out of nowhere on the plane and started, “Oh my God! You are a saint! You are something!” and I thought, “What is going on?” Yet, she did not know him. She just picked up something and went after him and, of course as usual, I had to rescue him as a bodyguard, which was one of my functions very, very often– driving, bodyguarding, running away from places and so.
If I would say something about him, Michio really had a huge dream. He wanted everyone on the planet to eat well, he wanted a pristine environment and he wanted to discover transmutation and many of those things that some people are following right now. But he always wanted that with good manners and elegance. Michio had this thing about good manners and elegance. Like you, you had to shape up and dress well and speak well and be gentle. So it was like, even in War he thought things should be, I don’t know, peaceful in war, I suppose – but with good manners. It was like – I think Michio really felt many times that he was like a Samurai and that his mission was the mission of a samurai and certainly his life does reflect that in many ways.
But he did pursue his dream relentlessly. I did work a lot with him and I met very few people with this drive and resilience. He was unstoppable. Often times the second shift at home would start at midnight and when everyone was very tired. I remember working with him on proof reading some books. It was 4 o’clock in the morning. I was completely exhausted. I am much younger than him. I was exhausted and Michio was reading and in my mind I was going, “He cannot be doing this right. We are too tired. So, he is just pretending he is reading or something.” And then he said, “Chico! We got to change this, this is no good!” I said, “What do you mean, Michio?” It was like a little sentence, something that was really not that important and he was really awake and I would say, “Oh boy, this is – this is amazing how he can do this! It’s amazing how he could actually have this incredible drive.”
He always – he was always wanted to change the world. He always had big plans for everything. He always targeted really high. He always targeted for the stars. Michio did never want anything small. Never, that I know of anyway.
But he had, and I really miss this, he had an incredible sense of humor. Sometime peculiar. Sometimes a little not so easy to grasp. But he had a very funny sense of humor which he could use in consultations very often. Not everyone understood what he meant sometimes. But I remember one time I had with him, which is not a big story, but was something that was quite impressive for me. We were travelling together in Europe, after Aveline died, so we were just visiting several countries in Europe. We had this dinner in which, you know how these dinners go, they take forever, everyone is asking questions and Michio would always say, “Yes” and there’s a point he says, “Chico! Let’s go out.” So, I find a sort of a good excuse. We come out. It’s a very beautiful spring day and it’s very late. It’s about one o’clock in the morning. We come out to the street. We want a bench to sit but there’s no bench to sit so we both ended up sitting on the sidewalk dressed up in suits. And, we sit down and Michio starts telling jokes. You know these jokes about, “There was this Italian and a Jew….”. He started, and I have never heard him do anything like that, so he goes – he makes up this joke and replaces the Italians and the Jews by the macrobiotic people and the Japanese. You go no, I know. And I started playing the game and I would add the Portuguese and we were laughing like crazy. We were laughing like crazy. Then we went to the hotel and I said, “Gosh, I never heard Michio telling jokes! This was the first time.” This is and he actually – he knows jokes! He knew all these jokes about Japanese people, which I won’t say here. But he could be really, really funny about it and lately in these last few years, I would always call him on his birthday. So I would say, “Happy birthday, Michio!” and he would reply back, “Happy birthday to you too, Chico!” We were not born the same day, by the way, and I’ll just have to stop at some point. He’s really funny. And so, I will miss, I will miss, his… I will really miss his sense of humor.
I mean, I do think, and quite a few people have said here, that Michio really played a very important role in the contemporary world. He did contribute to many, many, changes in the areas of health, of course, diet, environment, ecology, spiritual development, personal development. Michio really had an enormous task there and he did – I do hope that the coming generations would actually appreciate his work and that they would, they will give him the acknowledgement he deserves. I mean, a few people have said this already but if it wasn’t for Michio and Aveline, and yes, of course other people too, but these two in particular, many of the things we do take for granted right now we actually – we would not have. Like, Alex did mention eating brown rice at a hotel or even sleeping in a futon, or dressing in nice quality cotton, or actually having organic food. As far as I know both Michio and Aveline went to the farmers in America and paid a fortune just to be able to get organic rice that no one wanted to grow.
And they were really relentless about it. They were…and Michio really carried it with the energy of a samurai and he didn’t care much about his health. On respect to this his drive was a lot more important than how he was feeling. I’ve seen Michio sick a few times. I remember one instance he was in Lisbon for a seminar. He was visibly tired. He was actually feverish. He was – he was really not feeling so well and we had about four hundred people. So, I opened the curtains and I see all the people waiting. We’re late and Michio tells me, “Chico, do you think we can cancel?” And I say, “Ya, Michio we can cancel but this is really going to be a problem. We have 400 people in the room. Cancelling this event is going to be very difficult but I will if you tell me so. I will go there and stop it.” He said, “No, no, no, no. no I will do it.” So we walked on to the stage and he was very tired and started warming up and warming up and warming up. He ended up with a standing ovation.
So, I will just finish by saying that while I mostly admired on him was his uncanny capacity to actually jump from, you know, to transcend logical and intellectual thought and to tune in to his intuition and to have a glimpse of the spiritual world. Michio could do it better than anyone else. So thank you very much Michio. Please rest in peace. Thank you very much.