Josna Rege

19. Lively Up Yourself

In 1970s, 1990s, Family, India, Inter/Transnational, Music, people, Stories, United States on March 13, 2010 at 1:32 pm

Ziggy and Bob Marley, 1976 (

I must have been in my thirties when my Dad gave me a piece of advice:

“As you get older, it is important not to succumb to inertia.”

I remember his words often, when I can’t seem to tackle a pile of washing-up, get started on a new project, or simply step outside into the sunshine. In Hindu and Buddhist philosophy, inertia translates as tamas, one of the three gunas, or essential qualities present in nature. There is sattva, or purity; rajas, or worldly energy; and tamas, darkness or inertia. While tamas has a part to play in a balanced universe and a balanced individual, it should not be allowed to take over.

I have a talisman against inertia: twin images I carry in my mind’s eye. The first dates back to April 25, 1976, at a concert by Bob Marley and the Wailers at the Music Hall in Boston. Toward the end of a glorious set, Bob Marley brought his eight-year-old son Ziggy out on stage for a joyful performance of Lively Up Yourself. The father sang the tune and the son joined in with his squeaky descant, all the while jumping up and down like a bouncing rubber ball, springing up effortlessly again and again as if he were on the moon.

Lively up yourself, and don’t say “No”/Lively up yourself, ‘cos I say so.

The effect was electrifying: we all sprang to our feet as well; just watching the leaping child made us feel as light as he looked.

The other image is posted in front of me as I sit at my desk.  Dated February 25th, 1994, it is a pencil drawing by Nikhil at nine. In it, a small but solid boy is leaping, mid-air, hair standing straight up, arms upstretched. A speech bubble sings out, “Yes!”

Tell Me Another (Contents to Date)

Chronological Table of Contents

  1. Dear JoJo, how could you know I was starting to come out of hibernation and crawl out of my cave. “Lively up” is just what I wanted to hear! I’m going to my annual easter-egg dying today. That always signals the coming of Spring and lively-ing up. So you and I are in tune. I’m sending some pictures of Graham’s fish saying “Yes” (and then one saying NO in a big way and a couple of other ones)by email. Thanks so much for the wonderful story! love, s

  2. Yes – Loved this one.. and I see how all of you are so energetic and enthusiastic about life!! 🙂
    I guess it runs in the family 😉

    Thank you very much for this one!

  3. love this one.

  4. Beautiful Josna,
    a lift I needed. I can see the image of my son Ian, around 6 months, sitting in a pond, spreading his arms out wide to embrace the…univers? Yes.

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