Re: Don Modesto Passes Away
We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
Shakespeare, The Tempest.
Don lived a martial artist's dream, something I've dreamed of for decades but doubt at this point I will ever achieve. The Land of the Rising Sun which gave the world Zen, budo and aikido is now a place where there is a half-life in every breath. He went to Japan, lived there for 17 years, trained there and came home to try to assemble a stable life. I seem to recall conversations with him last fall on a trip to a seminar about the immediate prospects of tenure at the college where he taught or perhaps he had just received tenure. If that is true then the period of his stability was rather short. Reminds me of The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber.
The news of Don's passing was a shock for me, a kick in the gut. I am still angry ultimately at myself. We were friends so some degree, measured by varying degrees of online conversations and exchanges on topics of mutual interest. A meeting of minds. I enjoyed every exchange, every moment, every word and shared time on the mat. The loss of that shared time going forward is what hurts. The mirror is clouded and will take some misogi to clear. Don's loss created a kuzushi point in my life and I may be condemned like Sisyphus to eternally through uke's into that black hole to try to fill it.
Our contact had dimished over recent months as the ebb and flow of life is. I didn't know he was ill, had surgery, and to await the outcome. I would have been at his side as almost anyone here would have.
From my experience Don was kind, always solicitous, quite articulate, intellectually rigorous and honest, both on and off the mat. He lived budo and was a man of letters as they say in the West.
I believe Paul Rabinow commented on Michel Foucault's unexpected passing as ‘cosmic grand larceny' and I feel a bit of the same with Don. He had so much experience and so much to share. He loved the art and I think people loved to learn from him. He always kept me honest on the mat which is as much a comment on my deficiencies as it is a reflection of Don.
Amaterasu has called him home. May he rest in peace.
It Had to Be Felt