Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Summer Of Love

This coming Friday will be June 1st. In my mind June is the beginning of summer. This summer is somewhat significant for aging hippies like me. It has been 40 years since the infamous "Summer of Love". In reality the summer of 1967 was the beginning of the end for the hippie ideal and dream. Those who were there will tell you the best years were 1965-66. 1967 was actually the year that the "secret" got out, thanks to the media, and every runaway in America and others with flowers in their hair found their way to San Francisco. Two years later the hippie dream peaked at Woodstock and four months later, in December of 1969, it can to a brutal end at a Rolling Stones concert at the Altamont Motor Speedway when a Hells Angel stabbed a man to death right in front of the stage as Mick Jagger helplessly looked on. In 1967 I was 16 years old. I was too young to go to San Francisco, New York, or London, but my friends and I knew change was in the air. Revolutionary new music was appearing such as the Beatles "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band", Jimi Hendrix's "Are You Experienced?", and other new albums from bands like the Doors, Jefferson Airplane, and the Grateful Dead. It was an exciting time to be young. My friends and I started avoiding haircuts. I still believe in the best parts of the hippie dream and the Beatles were mostly right when they sang "All You Need Is Love". Of course, the passion of youth does not always possess common sense and you sometimes cling to your romantic ideals even when they begin to sour. Sooner or later you also realize that you must live life and not just talk about it. Growing up has forced some of us to make a few compromises but we have done so without selling out. My hippie idealism has blended with Christian contemplative spirituality and Zen Buddhism to create a personal vision where I can live with integrity and honesty. I have mostly escaped the lure of the world with it's temptations of power, prestige, and possessions and I have tried to live life simply and with meaning. Rock and roll will always be the soundtrack of my life and tie dye is still my color of choice. I still believe in peace and love but I am also happy to realize that the older I get, the more rebellious I feel. My long hair is long gone and I haven't worn bell bottoms in many, many years but the spirit of peace and love and freedom is alive and well within me. Let me end with a short, but funny, story. When I still had long hair, I wore a pony tail to work. Whenever I walked to the men's room I would hear these two women chuckle as I walked by. They referred to me as the "Flower Man". When I finally asked them why they called me the Flower Man, they replied, "Well, you're too old to be a Flower Child, so we call you the Flower Man"!

Last night I watched a film called " A Good Year". It starred Russell Crowe. It was about a not so nice business man who inherited his uncles winery. After watching it I feel I must learn French and move to Provence, France to become a winemaker as soon as possible. It may take me a while to pull this off so I am not quitting my job immediately. Although I have never been to Provence, many of the scenes in the film reminded me of the area I did visit in the Burgundy wine country a couple of years ago. If you are interested, there is a delightful little book called A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle.

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