Tyagaraja, Elephant Aid Cancer Patient's "Obstacle" Removal

Earlier this year, we covered a video by Deborah Thomas showing the music therapy program at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. Thomas was kind enough to pass along her latest video; a simultaneously inspiring and heartbreaking work called "All Obstacles Removed."

The subject of "Obstacles" is a 10-year-old brain cancer patient named Aidan Immroth. Immroth loved elephants, and painted pictures of them often, but he imagined a project huge in scope and well beyond the imagination of many older and more experienced artists.

Along with M. D. Anderson's Artist in Residence, Ian Cion, and a large group of volunteers, Immroth painted an actual elephant. Basing the work on a previous drawing done with Photoshop, Immroth transferred his work to a living elephant canvas named Krissy.

obstacles jan10.jpg
Krissy the elephant, Ian Cion and Aidan Immroth in the "All Obstacles Removed" video
Immroth's inspiration came from a tapestry in his house showing the elephant-headed Hindu god Lord Ganesh, who is responsible for moving obstacles out of the path of success.

Plus, "Elephants are really cool," said Immroth, "They're known to be lucky."

The finished project, who was constantly bribed with fruit in order to sit still for the painting, was a walking work of art covered in painted flowers, geometric shapes, and signed by Immroth's white handprint.

"Going through cancer can make you feel disconnected from the world," said Cion. "A project like this can help you reconnect with the vitality of nature."

Sadly, Immroth lost his fight with cancer in last November, one of around 1,500 people who are lost to the disease every day.

His artistic accomplishment is chronicled in Thomas's video, with a soundtrack by Houston's own Tyagaraja. The music is a recording of a Hindu mantra to the Hindu god Shiva, "Maha Mrituyunjaya," a plea to overcome death. Not the physical ending of the human body, but rather to conquer spiritual death in hopes of ever-lasting life.

Legend has it that Shiva once stopped time at the request of a boy destined to die at a young age. Though Immroth is gone, his accomplishment lives on through Thomas's record.

The city is surely much poorer for having lost an artist who at just 10 years old had the grandiose vision and uncommon skill to be a groundbreaking name.


Jef With One F is the author of The Bible Spelled Backwards Does Not Change the Fact That You Cannot Kill David Arquette and Other Things I Learned In the Black Math Experiment, available now.


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4 comments
Tyagaraja
Tyagaraja

Hello, This is Tyagaraja,

I connect and feel so deeply every ounce of suffering experienced by Aidan, and any human being and even the suffering of the earth itself. I send all those experiences through my breath that is soaked with pure hearted love, care, understanding, warmth, security and peace. I pray that the world experiences those things.

I lend a special thanks to involving me in a piece of time that has been captured and will live forever, not just as a memory but as a physical piece of time held in our hands and in our eyes.

I have been inspired to leave a full response to this film on my website and will post it soon.

For now I will say the more we are in tune with the perfection of nature the more we will understand what She needs from us in order to create peace and end suffering. The Mother Earth is only hear to heal us, and sometimes allow us a soft ground to leave the body and join with the spirit, leaving the body to be swallowed by the earth and reused. It is important that we exude peace, understanding, compassion, love, patients. All of these attributes will be with us when we leave the body and permeate into higher and higher states. There are many obstacles in life. Even the human body is an obstacle blocking us from the spirit with which we will all finally merge. When that time comes all our life's work will be piled into our subconscious and that energy will be incasing our body and in the bodies of all the loved ones and people we have touched in our lives. Aidan's energy is brighter and more expansive than most because his pure hearted love is felt by more people. Even those people getting to know him even today meeting him for the first time, are being touched by his spirit. It's not just a video, it is Aidan's spirit that is carrying the energy directly to your heart. And how does it inspire you? How does it make you feel? Does it give you the energy to pick up your wiry bones and work to do what is right and good with every ounce of you, to improve your life and the life of all your loved ones around you and their loved ones around them? It does this for me too. I breathe Aidan's spirit into mine so that I might carry out his work with as much purity and love as him.

Thank you once again for anyone who participates in these kinds of loving and humane offerings.

Peace and all my heart,Tyagaraja

Mark C Austin
Mark C Austin

Wow! What a touching story. Thanks for sharing!

Jef With One F
Jef With One F

You're good people, John. Don't ever let 'em tell you different.

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