by Ray Jason…….
The old hippie has found his bliss.
He runs a ten table restaurant down here south of many borders. If it wasn’t for the sign out front, you would never even realize that his business exists. It looks more like a garden with a roof on top.
Besides serving food for the body, it also features food for the mind and the spirit. That’s because even though it doesn’t have walls, it has shelves filled with thousands of books. It is the local book swap, where you can take one if you leave one. Of course, if you desire one from the “Philosophy” section, you have to leave two!
The old hippie placed the plate with the omelette on my table and then paused for a second before asking,
“Is there something wrong with your phone?”
He was referring to the fact that I was the only customer that was not fixated on their Smart Phone … or as I prefer to describe them … their Personal Enslavement Device.
I took out my little no-frills phone and smiled up at him as I replied,
“No. there is something right about it … no apps, no camera, no addiction.”
He chuckled and said,
“Brother, you’re speaking my language!”
Then I asked him about the banana birds. While waiting for my food to arrive, I had marveled at the many different birds feasting on a single banana from a stalk of about ten. He told me that they would find the ripest fruit and concentrate on just that one. This left nine for the restaurant to use in their banana pancakes and muffins. This live and let live approach suited him just fine. After all, he wasn’t a “gotta have it all” hedge fund manager, he was just an old hippie.
As he was about to head off to a nearby table, he paused again and melodically said,
“If you’re going to San Francisco …”
To which I immediately replied,
“ … be sure to wear some flowers in your hair…”
We both smiled broadly and flashed each other a peace sign.
This unexpected and delightful encounter opened the floodgates to my reservoir of long-cherished memories. Suddenly, I was back in San Francisco in the late 60s. All of the values that we had embraced seemed so right at the time. And I fervently believe that they are still right! But the mass movement of millions, who had lived them and relished them and battled for them, had long ago vanished like rotary-dial phones.
After finishing my breakfast, I strolled around the little beach town and pondered how very hard we had tried to change the course of the world in the 60s.
ONLY STRAIGHT PEOPLE WORSHIP MONEY. The Counter Culture vigorously rejected the Materialism that dominated the American worldview. A person’s Worth was not measured by their Wealth! This was apparent in our preference for co-operation over competition. It was evident in the popularity of shared-living arrangements rather than suburban isolation and alienation. It even manifested itself in the lowly Volkswagon Bus. No self-respecting hippie would own a normal car when we could drive a funky old bus and convert it into an “art car.”
We seemed to understand that an existence driven by greed was a wasted life. We could see the wisdom and justice in the phrase, “Enough is good, but more than enough is bad!” We never seemed to have a lot, but what we had, we shared.
And now it is nearly a half of a century since The Summer of Love. As I look about the world, I see that the God of Greed has again conquered most of the Earth. The chasm between the rich and the poor is greater than ever. And the universal lust for useless “stuff” has been rekindled with a sad vengeance.
HELL NO, WE WON’T GO! Certainly, the anti-Vietnam protestors had some significant self-interest in stopping this senseless and hideous war. But beyond not wanting to be killed or to kill, we also knew in our core being that war is utter insanity. We understood that the people who start the wars never die in them. In fact, they reap obscene profits from them during the preparations, the destruction and the rebuilding. And we realized that it never solves anything, and just increases hatred and the likelihood of future war. Furthermore, we knew that most of the victims of modern war are not soldiers, but innocent civilians.
And now, all of these years after “the Fall of Saigon” we know that Vietnam was not just horrific and senseless, it was completely fraudulent! The Gulf of Tonkin Incident that was the impetus for the war, never even occurred. It was made up as a justification for sending in ground troops.
Way back then, we hippies were trying to warn the world that the U.S. was an out-of-control imperial bully that needed to be castrated. What a different and more peaceful world we might now have if that warning had been heeded.
NEVER TRUST ANYONE OVER 30! Unquestioning acceptance of the dictates of Authority came to a well-deserved end during the 60s. The Counter-Culture recognized that the Politicians, Priests and Police had not gained their dominant positions due to their superior wisdom, but because of their soulless lust for power.
We hippies comically mocked the platitudes of Patriotism and the piety of the Pope. How could we respect wrinkled old men who would send us off to die and to kill in the rice paddies of Vietnam? And how could we revere a crinkled old virgin who wanted to control our sex lives?
These were legitimate questions that demanded reasonable answers. But instead we got the old shuck and jive of “We know what is best for you.” Tell that to the dead kids at Kent State.
And now, look around almost 50 years later, and what does one see? The hippie mantra of Peace and Love has been drowned in the blood of Perpetual War. The most evil strain of one of the religions has metastasized into intolerance so vicious that on a daily basis innocent children are splattered in service to Jihad. And the police are so heavily armed and armored that they look like Galactic Storm Troopers.
Two days later, I was on a bus headed back to The Archipelago of Bliss. It was a dreary, rainy day that matched my spirit, which was still wounded from my meditation on the lost opportunity that was the 60s. The miles slid by and I listlessly peered out the window at the gray, soggy countryside.
Unexpectedly, a strong sensation nudged my consciousness. It told me that a healing message was right there in front of my eyes. It took me another few minutes before I finally spotted it. Suddenly, I realized that the fence posts were alive!
The custom down here in the tropics is to take old tree branches and drive them a foot or so into the ground and connect them with barbed wire. This forms a primitive fence that keeps the cows off the road.
Every once in a while, one of these seemingly dead branches miraculously grows a root structure. Then, in a little while, shoots of green growth burst from the top, and then it will become a new little tree! I smiled happily as this realization brightened my mood.
Then I thought again of the old hippie. I could vividly picture him hanging another stalk in the tree to feed the little banana birds. Could the quiet way that he still lives according to our 60s values be like one of those weathered roadside branches that silently pulses with hidden Life Force? Could the example of his simple life of kindness and Connection help to heal a weary world that is sick from the poison of Separation?
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