December 12, 2012 (12/12/12)
1. 1969. I’m in the playroom—which is actually a second living room!—in my house in Rocky Point, Long Island, under the headphones, listening to Ravi Shankar playing sitar. I am stoned on Maryjane. The kids are asleep down the hall, each in their own pristine, beautifully decorated, bedrooms. I breathe in time to the strumming of the sitar, and at some point I see myself, with utter clarity, on the ceiling, sitting cross-legged in the right-hand corner near the window, in front of the bookcases. I am looking down at myself on the couch. I am so amused by this vision, I wouldn’t mind if it went on forever and ever.
I cannot remember if I got scared and pulled myself down from the ceiling, I only recall coming out of it within a few seconds/minutes/hours? Whether scared or not, the visual memory has stayed with me all these years, especially when people talk about out-of-body experiences and the like. This was my first out-of-body experience, inspired by the music of Ravi Shankar.
2. 1972—I take my kids to the Kingston Drive-In to see The Concert for Bangla Desh. It’s very long, three hours I think, and filled with images of starving children. Many questions are asked by the kids, aged five and seven, such as “If the people have no money, why don’t they just go to the bank?” The music is wonderful, with George Harrison headlining. He jams with Ravi Shankar, who also plays with his regular musicians (photo above), and does a solo or two. As he’s strumming on the sitar—you could’ve heard a pin drop, in the drive-in no less!—I hear heavy sobbing in the back seat. I turn around. Daryl can barely speak, he’s crying so hard. “This music is so sad!” he says. Soon he is able to articulate what’s sad, beginning with the starving people and the pained look on Ravi Shankar’s face, and spreading outward to emotions about his father, who I recently divorced. I don’t recall the specifics, unfortunately, but I’ll bet Daryl still remembers this.
Playing with George on the Night Shift?
Ravi Shankar, what a pure and wonderful gift you shared with us. I hope to see you on the other side.
- Pandit Ravi Shankar (1920-2012) (thehindu.com)
- Ravi Shankar Dead: Sitar Legend Passes Away at 92 (spinner.com)