Newport Mercury, November 2007 : Happy...
Newport Mercury, November 2007
Happy and He Knows it
CHRISTOPHER "KAVI" CARBONE, VERY HAPPY GUY
With all the fuss on the turkey and fixings, you can forget why you're really there at the Thanksgiving table - to give thanks. No one remembers to give it more than Newport healing arts specialist Christopher Carbone, who runs the nonprofit Present Moment Arts Center with his wife, Katherine. He just might be the happiest person around; his face is rarely seen without a smile. Carbone spends his time sponsoring artistic and spiritual workshops for kids and adults and has released CDs of stories and songs, including "Namaste," a collection of yoga meditations and music for children. It's not only on the third Thursday of November that he remembers to honor the good in his life. Whether it's through yoga sessions, telling stories to children or chanting with his wife, Carbone is always celebrating his true bliss.
BY BETH FARNHAM
What makes you so happy?
I love that question! Well, I was just thinking about that. The Dalai Lama wrote a book called "The Art of Happiness," which I love as a concept. Happiness is simply not just a feeling, but an art and a practice. Many things may happen within a day or a week or a lifetime. They may be challenging, and yet, the art of happiness, the art of contentment, is one that takes practice.
Do you think people can practice and evolve their disposition during their lifetime?
I believe that within every person, there's an innate wholeness, goodness and indeed, happiness. In many traditions around the world, there's this belief that, within ourselves, within the human soul, there is a spark of creative goodness. Through practice, through cultivating this art of happiness, I do believe everyone can obtain a deep satisfaction in life.
Even in simple ways, in daily life, one of the greatest practices is gratitude. There's a wonderful teacher named Thích Nhát Hanh, and one his books is called "The Miracle of Mindfulness." It teaches that every day is a miracle. Wow! I have 24 hours of a miracle ahead of me!
The miracle of life?
Being able to be alive on this earth, and everything that contributes. This is a miracle! I can remind myself with simply the thought, "Aha! A new adventure's ahead today." Let's be real, there are difficult and challenging things that happen. Personally, my father passed away very recently. Naturally, I had waves of feelings and emotions: grief and sadness, longing to be with him again, wishing I had one more day. And yet, it's also helpful and important to step back and say, "What can I be grateful for in this moment?" There will always be tragedies and difficult situations, and yet how we respond to those is the difference. There's another really important piece! In yoga we say, "Where the mind goes, so goes the energy."
I believe that.
If I let myself read the newspaper right before going to bed and focus on some of these stories, I might unconsciously go to sleep and have dreams that might be unsettling and wake up with a less-centered feeling. How do I go to sleep and how do I wake up? I like to have a meditation practice. Often it's through singing and sounding. In the morning I have a meditation or yoga practice. My body needs to be taken care of and my mind needs to be taken care of.
Do you attribute your excellent shape and health to your practices?
I give great credit to my practices. About 10 years ago, I was in a pretty serious car accident, and since then my spine has had chronic difficulties. That was a gift to me, because that ensured I do some kind of physical practice everyday. I give great credit to my wife, I gotta say that! Being in partnership with her is such a support.
How long have you been together?
Eight years. And that is a blessing, to be in loving support with this wonderful person. My wife and I will do chants and songs that are uplifting to us. One of my favorite things to sing is an affirmation song. When I find myself going down a
path that feels unhelpful, I can step back and ask, "What is the big picture?" Then I can sing a song about it. It might be something like, [sings] I am peace ... I make peace."
Is Kavi a nickname?
Kavi is a name that was given to me teaching in New York City. The word "kavi" refers to poetry and inspiration. It serves as a reminder of the poetry of life.
You have some wardrobe there. Where do you get your clothes?
A lot of my clothes are made by my wife! She's a wonderfully creative artist and she's also a very talented seamstress and clothing maker. A lot of my clothes I enjoy from good-old secondhand shops. I love to wear my comfy, flowy pants, bright colored or white shirt to help lift my spirit, and I enjoy a good vest to inspire my imagination.
So what makes you angry?
Misuse and abuse of power against someone who is weaker. That is something that gives me a strong response. When I hear about people being killed in a war, I may first feel angry, and I also look at the anger, and realize underneath the anger I can feel sadness at the loss of life. I try not to dwell in the feeling of anger, but I can allow that feeling to motivate me to take action if I need to, or to better understand myself. As Ghandi very eloquently stated, "Be the change that you want to see." That's the affirmation part. It's much more powerful than my anger. It's not what happens; it's how I respond to what happens. Like many people, I want a world that's more at peace.
Thanksgiving's this week. Is it extra special to you, or is it just like any day? It sounds like you're grateful all the time.
I love Thanksgiving, because I love the food! Oh, I love the food! It's harvest time and it's about family. It gives me the opportunity to remember and remind myself, in a real expressive way, how important it is to be thankful. I look at a sweet potato and contemplate the layers of love and miracles that have gone into it.
Is that your favorite food?
I love sweet potatoes! They're warm in the tummy and smooth and soft. Think about all the people who worked to grow them, the people who drove the sweet potatoes to the supermarket or the farmer's market, the people who helped us at the checkout line, the people who cook the food and then the people who eat it together. It's an amazing time to practice gratitude. I look forward to going to Thanksgiving this year with my family, and we will hold my father's presence with us. I would not be sitting here at this moment if it weren't for him.
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Christopher & Katherine Carbone