Let me tell you why, despite the fact that I am angry or depressed most of the time, I choose to call myself a hippy. First, all of my friends call me a hippy, and I guess I've gone out of my way to cultivate the image. Yes, I have done drugs including some psychedelics. BUT I don't sit around stoned and listening to theDead all day, I prefer Nirvana. In fact some of the most hippified people I know don't do drugs, or listen to the Dead! I have always been interested in the ideals and lifestyles of the hippies, and of the 60's in general. I have also always had a keen interest in issues of justice, peace, and personal transformation, and I have always liked anyone who goes out of their way to offend the status qou. In my opinion these things are what being a hippy is about. Not doing drugs, or wearing long hair, or "outrageous" clothing. But taking an active interest in relieving other peoples suffering, and finally also in changing oneself.
As far as other items of "Hippy" credibility, besides being "happy" all the time, I can offer a few.
First, I lived in a "commune" of sorts for a little while. And when I had had my fill of that place I left and moved to california, where I was continually called "hippy" or deadhead, and once even "Zep" (? ). I was also told repeatedly that I was living the "hippy lifestyle". I'm not really sure what the people who told me this meant, unless it was the fact that money, power, prestige, and property, have almost no significance in my life. My income for that same year ended up being under two thousand dollars, and I was happy about that!
As for other "Hippy" credentials, I can offer; I have read everything that I can find about the 60's, the hippy movement, and its influences. For example I have read; The Dharma Bums, and On the Road by Jack Kerouac, The Electric Kool-aid Acid Test, by Tom Wolfe, The Summer Of Love, by Lisa Mason, A Walk Across America, by Peter Jenkins, Glimpses, by Lewis Shiner, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert M. Pirsig, The Open Conspiracy, by Ethel Grodzins Romm, part of The Sixties by Todd Gitlin, a few celebrity bios from the period, and several Eric Fromme books. I have also read every article I could find on the internet, and watched every movie that deals with the hippy movement that I could find as well. I have also attended many "Hippy" events, and wear a lot of tie dyes, some that I made myself. I am creative. I long for peace and justice.
Finally, I am constantly trying to expand my mind, yet more through intellectual pursuits than by chemical means.
As far as why I am angry I think it all began a year or so before I left my home to join a "christian community" and what I now realize was probably an abusive situation.
On the title page I explained that I spent a few years as a "a born again christian", a "christian rocker", and then a "backslidden christian". I don't wish to go into too much detail about these stages in my life (it would take WAY too long anyway) but all of these stages were important to my current self-identification as a "hippy".
When I became a christian I had to do a lot of searching. "How should I dress?" "What sort of music should I listen to?" "How do I know which church denomination, or even religion, is the 'right' one?" "How do I know finally if any of this christian stuff is true?" I started reading my Bible and soon realized that the answer to most of thees questions was that it was a matter of personal taste.As for the latter of these questions I never did find any substantial answers, but after a lot of soul searching, and a few near mystical experiences, it all finally just worked. And I set out to live the lifestyle.
I soon began hanging out with a Christian Rock band called Overdrive, and this is when I started letting my hair grow out, and became a "Christian Rocker". But it wasn't too long after that, that the lifestyle stopped working.
The reasons why it stopped working aren't really all that important. Suffice to say that what had once been a dynamic, lively, spontaneous experience became; a dead, and lifeless drudgery. Despite all of my efforts to patch up the boat of my faith, I quickly found it sinking.
Then the answer for all of my troubles hit me!
Back when I was an idealistic christian, searching for answers, and for role models I found Cornerstone magazine which was published by Jesus People USA, the community mentoned before. Inside I read about this wonderful community based in Chicago that started in the early 70's, and did a lot of work with homeless people, and the elderly. I read many wonderful articles, and stories. The Jesus People seemed idealistic, loving, accepting and HAPPY!! Right from the beginning I wanted to go!! I packed up most of my stuff, and a roommate and I left.
I didn't know what to expect, or even how I should behave. But NOTHING could have prepared me for what I found once I joined JPUSA.
Now, I realize that all people have the same limtations that I do, and that the circumstances that brought me to JPUSA were a little dubious from the beginning, but I often felt that the Jesus People where not even trying. Instead of idealism, love, acceptance, open minds and a genuinely kind nature I found a bunch of cynics mouthing platitudes, and doing whatever the leadership of the community said, without question. I could give so many examples of the apathy, and cynicism that I observed, but it seems redundant. I've been over this a thousand times, and I've dealt with it. The fact is that I was let down. Perhaps (I thought) I should never have allowed myself to believe they were all that they claimed. This is part of why I am angry, but not the sole reason.
I stayed in the community for a little over 7 months, and I met many more people who had been negatively affected just like myself.(I also met some genuinely loving, and caring people, but they seemed to be in the minority.) The most disturbing thing about this situation was not the disgruntled people I met, but the automatons who had surrendered their self will just to become accepted by this place!
I went back home for a few months, and then moved to california, where I joined another church I had read about, Sanctuary. I know a lot of people who were also negatively affected by this church as well, but most of my memories of Sanctuary are pleasant. But this was definitely when I was the "back-slidden christian", and where I began to move more toward being a "hippy".
Even though I loved the church, and most of the people, I began getting rid of old ideas that no longer worked. I started reading again, but instead of just christian literature I sought out the "classics". I read books like, Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov, On the Road, by Jack Kerouac, and The World According To Garp, by John Irving. I also read, No One Here Gets out Alive, by Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugarman, a Jim Morrison biography, the Ender Saga by Orson Scott Card, Catcher in the Rye, and A Walk Across America, by Peter Jenkins. All of these books left indelible marks on my soul. I began to think, and to question again.
I was still angry through most of this time period. This was probably my angriest period ever. In fact I went through a VERY BRIEF, punk rock and grunge phase, which is probably why you'd still be more likely to hear The Ramones, or Nirvana on my CD player instead of Phish, or the Grateful Dead. I'm not downing those bands, I like 'em, but not enough to buy an album!
But a way out of the anger began to become clear.
I moved back to Virginia after living in California for nearly a year and a half. I was still angry, and depressed, but still determined to continue pursuing the track of experience and learning that I was on. I found and read just about every book I could find on the history of christianity.And I shucked a few more ideas.
I kept reading, made some new friends, began exploring Zen, and Native Americacn spirituality, smoked pot for the first time, almost got married, found the High Times History of Psychedelics issue (and learned a lot!), read a lot of Joseph Campbell, some philosophy textbooks, a bunch of novels about the sixties, and finally began to see a larger world inside of me that I had neglected for years. But I was still angry!!
Why should I be angry after so many experiences, and having learned so much? I'm not really sure to be honest! I feel as if there is an entire life that I should be living, and could be living, that is forever out of my grasp. I would love to run off, join another commune, or the Rainbow Family, but I wonder if they are just like the "christian hippies" of Jesus People, or are they genuine and for real?
Often I feel as if I am living in the wrong place. Not the wrong geographic region, nor era, nor even planet, but in the wrong universe altogether. I look at how the world works, and I hate it. I can't believe the empty lives that people live, and the injustice that they allow in their own lives, and in the lives of the world around them. I can't believe that our lives should mean so little and that people seem to settle for the obvious lifestyles. But at the same time I feel as if I am doing the exact same thing, and am doing nothing to change things.
I feel that the world around me, and my own personal world are constantly at the edge of collapse. The obstacles to changing anything seem so great and so vast that even a concentrated effort by large groups of people could never accomplish even a miniscule change.
I feel the shadow and the threat of nuclear destruction, racism, bigotry, hatred, cancer, AIDS, homelessness, prison, and the threat of rampant capitalism and greed breathing down my neck every day!!
Most of all I am angry at myself for not doing anything to change all of these things!
Actually though I am sorta proud of being "blue collar". I will (hopefully) have a little more cash in my pocket, making life for me and my dog a little easier. And I am working a REAL job, no more erratic hours, I get regular breaks, and benefits. And I am out there among the common man. I'm learning about what the lives of people who aren't like me, are like. And I am beginning to like most of my co-workers, they're honest, funny, and real. Like the Steppenwolf in the novel by Hermann Hesse, I can appreciate their lifestyles, but I feel I am forever seperated from them. Thats okay. I know my life is no picnic, but compared to the alternatives, I like it just fine! Sure I'm angry, but to risk slipping into cliches, and platitudes, I will qoute a popular bumpersticker, "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention!"
Is there hope that I will stop being angry and become the peaceful hippy that I should? I don't know. If I can figure out a way to get myself motivated enough to change more of my circumstances, and to participate in changing the world, then maybe...
But I won't be holding my breath!!
Update! Nov 5, 98. I guess I'm still angry, but now I for the first time in a long time I feel hopefull for my future. I finally moved to Denver CO! I've been talking about this move for a long time. I have a much better job, and I am enjoying meeting new people and visiting new places. I am having fun, and for the first time in a long time I feel as if I am finally moving toward a better future! I still get angry, but not nearly as much as before. . I think my biggest problem has always been my anger with myself, and not with my situations per se. Now that I feel that I have affected a positive change for myself, I don't feel nearly as helpless or angry.
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The Pathetic World of Stacy Puckett: One of my best and oldest friends.
Phishy fractals and pictures: One of my old roommates' website.
Oceana Bar and Grill: My friend Jon's new website.
Intelligentsia Buffet: A reading list compiled by myself and Jon.
Kelly's Scrumdiddlyumptious Scrabble Site: A really cool website devoted to activism, Scrabble, Willy Wonka,
A Link To Anywhere: A collection of paranormal, Rainbow Family, and Hippy links.
Dirty Hippy Liberal Christian Home Journal: A great spiritual resource.
Robert Silverman's home page: Another Robman's cool website.
Hippypunk's Starry-eyed Love Page!: A website devoted to beauty, joy, and fun!
Jay's Homepage: (AKA: Jay Dreaming, J. Bones, Jay Sun, J. Daniel Fattorosi) musician, artist, poet, mystic, sound engineer, revolutionary, and reformed working-class grunt.
NerdDom Rocks The Web!: "Attention all Nerds,Geeks,Goths,Outcasts,etc, are you sick of being persecuted by the mainstream media,the jocks,and the preppies?,if you answer yes,then this is the right site for You!" A thoughtful, intelligent, exceptional website, with lots of really cool links and info.