Over forty summers ago, at the neither-here-nor-there age of fourteen, I picked up my bongos, stuck out my thumb, and followed the long-haired trail of freedom through Western Canada. My middle-class traveling companions and I ended up in the middle of a hippy community in a public park in central British Columbia. One sultry evening, a long, cool black man showed up introducing himself as John Lee Hooker’s brother – they were in town for an upcoming concert. He took out his guitar and played to the awestruck gathering. Unfortunately, I sat down nearby and pounded on my bongos. Despite the gentleman’s encouraging smiles in my direction, my wine-drenched mind just wouldn’t allow me to keep pace. (The following morning, an acutely annoyed banjo-playing hippy, who had also tried accompanying the star guest in the park, threw a beer bottle at me when I picked up my bongos to tap along.) This was my early introduction to a liberal, but not entirely liberating, life-style. I went in and out of hippy circles over the following decade, eventually cutting off my freak-flag (long hair) and escaping out of alcohol and drug abuse. (When my fourteen-year-old son recently put his hand on my shoulder and declared, ‘wouldn’t it be great if we could go back to the sixties!’ I couldn’t keep my lip and eyebrows from curling in honest resentment to the sentiment.)
I didn’t become a corporate executive, military commander or gambling-empire tycoon (I prefer working with my hands – wood is nice), but the wild ways of the beautiful children of nature also didn’t draw my allegiance. It’s funny how life’s many complications actually come out of two simple mistakes: right turns, and left turns. Did you know that your governing nervous system is made up of a distinct left and a right side? I say governing, because we’re normally victims of our pendular moods – domination of the left and right sides of our brain (ego and superego). There’s also something very important and little understood called the para-sympathetic, which automatically animates the various functions of the body. After self-realization, this benevolent caretaker glides in, like a first-class customer service, to make life more fulfilling. From this point on, you become your own *manager, gravitating always to the optimum *center, for maximum efficiency and enjoyment. (*not to be confused with corporate manager, and political center!)
Just to set the record straight: Hippies and other social drop-outs are not always left-sided; and public leaders are not always right-sided. I’ve seen ambitious hippies playing a marathon world-domination board-game, which made me glad that they didn’t really hold the reigns of power; and I’ve met a couple of military officers (Russian and Indian) who write poetry and pray for world peace.
(Here in Austria, there are some pretty intense vibrational elements from the two extremes, from Nazi attitudes to Freud and Catholic ghosts.)