I traveled to Boston over the weekend to attend the memorial service for Michio Kushi. According to the NYTimes obituary, Michio was “a Japanese scholar who popularized the macrobiotic diet in the United States, helping to change the way health-conscious Americans eat. He died on Dec. 28 in Boston. He was 88.”

Speakers from all over the globe traveled to the Arlington Street Unitarian Church and paid tribute to this man. The final eulogy was given by his youngest son, Hisao Kushi. I took notes.

Hisao talked about what it was like to have a father who saw health as a key to world peace. Imagine its affect on a child, especially when filling out an application for school or work.
“What does your father do?”

Long pause. A ripple of knowing chuckles from those gathered and attuned to intricacy of the issue.

“I’d write teacher. At the interview, they’d ask, ‘Where does he teach?'” Another pause, followed by a hesitant, “Europe?”

Michio lectured all over the globe. “Is he a professor?” More laughter now. His message was much bigger than a university classroom.

“Then,” Hisao continued, “I started saying author,” because his father had written many volumes on the subject. “What did he write?” was the natural follow-up interview question.

Again hesitation. “Your Face Never Lies.” Inside the macrobiotic world, this is a seminal book. To the general public, not so much.

“Eventually,” the son offered, “I would say that my father was a philosopher.” At which point the inquirer would be stumped. What follow-up question would you ask of someone with that response?

“If you asked me today,” he concluded, “I’d write dreamer. My father taught us to make sure that our life’s dream couldn’t be solved in our lifetime. But we could work on the fundamentals. The gift he gave us was the permission to dream big.”

Michio Kushi accomplished far more than the fundamentals in his lifetime. And there’s still work to be done. I’m grateful that he founded the Kushi Institute and that his caring family embody his message and dreams.

 

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