I’ve met the most fascinating humans through my chosen profession. But none of them more so than Billy O’Riordan who passed away this week.
A beautiful light has gone out with the recent death of my old friend, Kerry Riley.
Kerry is the first of my close contemporaries who has died, so his death, even though we knew it was coming was a blow, a gut punch. We knew it was coming and hoped it wouldn’t. But eventually it did, and, from what his wife, Diane, has told me, it was time.
A lovely man died yesterday—his demise spurred on by having been on kidney dialysis for some time.
I didn’t know him well; initially it was by virtue of his reputation as an Aboriginal elder, law man and artist. Millions of people across the globe viewed his art when the image of a giant Wandjina (Aboriginal spirit entity) that he designed was featured in the opening ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.
Maria Kirsten’s credentials included the whole breadth of yoga taught these days: classical, corporate, gentle, hatha, intellectually-challenged, mental health, viniyoga, yogalates, dynamic, postnatal, general, teacher training, therapy and meditation.
Donald was so beloved by his students, yogis who had followed him for years. I was fortunate to be given a place in what turned our to be essentially an Iyengar-type class. However, Donald’s approach was inquiry based: ‘How does it feel to do the pose this way? Where does your effort come from? Might you do the pose in a way better-suited to your body?’
Several years ago I saw Leonard in concert in the Hunter Valley. He must have done similar performances countless times around the world. And, his audiences would have known almost every word of his songs. Yet, when I saw him, he and his musicians performed in a manner utterly fresh. All of the music to the highest standard.
But what stood out for me were Leonard’s humility and his presence.
He frequently and warmly acknowledged his band and backing singers. We came for him, but by the end, we loved them, too.
Well into seventies, Leonard seemed as flexible as a young yogi. He got down on his knees to defer to his old guitarist. He skipped on and off stage. He bowed often and reverently.