|Harbin's Walnut & Azalea Bldgs + Guests|
Sitting in the garden at the isolated, spiritual hot springs retreat center and riding the wave of tasty lyrics and sweet guitar picking, I noticed a young guy in blonde dreads beaming from ear to ear. The singer was a fellow Boomer, a woman with short salt and pepper hair and a relaxed demeanor. After a concert last night in the Temple, where the solo guitarist hit the crowd of spiritual retreatants with his own unique blend of Carlos Santana and Jai Uttal by way of the Amazon jungle, this thoughtful and peaceful music was a pleasant shift. She did several songs that bespoke the wisdom of more than a few years of life on the road less traveled.
A thought popped in about the young guy and how cool it was that in this place all generations are present and welcome (except teens who seemed to be self-excluded). The special blend of an ancient, 19th century healing waters resort and 1970s back to the land spiritual seekers has manifested secular, new age, hip resort in the mountains above the wine country in Northern California. Imagine the community of Taylor Camp (Kauai) discussed a few months back except it is all grown up and a responsible and contributing member of the community. On the deck that surrounds the healing pools on any sunny day you will find day trippers from the Bay Area along with wandering young (and a few not so young) sadhus (Sanskrit term for spiritual seekers) from Israel or Germany or Topanga. On the recent holiday weekend at Harbin the call of the waters reached tsunami levels as the deck was filled with retreatants reading books on all manner of progressive and spiritual topics and chatting softly while they allow the healing rays of the sun to bake their bare bodies (yes even down there).
Prohibition of cameras, electronic devices, and clothes induces a special vibe of peaceful openness. Strike up a mundane conversation about the weather and soon it will move into a discussion of the relative merits of Tibetan Buddhism with Theravadan Buddhism. Or anything from organic home building to esoteric symbols of an individual's tattoos. Almost anything goes as long as it dives below the surface of job, money, kids, and sports. The personal is celebrated and shared freely.
On this most recent trip I met a woman who is the chef at their fine organic restaurant and does sound healings with crystals and teaches yoga all in one day. Another 50ish woman with a range of colorful tattoos on her shoulders rode up on her Harley for a night and camped out on the redwood deck. While sitting on the deck and seeking some shade from the 102 degree heat I was tooth and jowl to a forty something woman and I made an off hand remark about the sci-fi book she was reading. Over the next two days we explored a range of topics from spiritual novels to educational equity to Buddhism to martial arts. Another acquaintance represented the tribal nature of many of the guests. Originally from Germany, she had lived in Maui (in the spiritual neighborhood), Sayulita, Mexico, and Topanga Canyon and now was a refugee from the fires near Santa Fe, NM. On the deck and in the pools about the only type you won't see are button downed, suburban track home, 9-5ers, looking for room service and a flat screen TV in the sports bar.
Suffused in this eclectic mix of humanity, there is the zeitgeist of what we called back in the day the counter culture. It was/ is a mix of values that promote sustainable, creative, connected, harmonious, communal, healthy, organic, and freedom loving lifestyles. That is what I got in the impromptu concert in the garden. The singer was classic and could have been a 1970 Haight Ashbury hippie or for that matter 1945 Hudson Valley folky. And the young cat from Berkeley was listening with wide ears of that is cool today. We had a short conversation and I learned of his dream to have a creative tea house on College Ave in Berkeley where performers and artists come and share. A sonorous Asian gong went off in my head and I connected with my long simmering vision of a coffee house where the local talent hangs, performs, shares, and communes. The world is small and time is subjective and especially so at Harbin. The young artist explained his process of holding a vision, building the partnership, and finding the place. Inside I said, 'for those that have eyes let them hear' and 'a child shall lead them.'
For us who are on the backside of life and seeking to close out this life's journey with meaning, engagement, pleasure, achievement, and relationship, it behooves us to be around younger people with open minds and hearts. Their freshness has much to show us when the 'been there,' 'done thats' arise. Remembrance, it is said in the Sufi tradition, is crucial in building a spiritual foundation for life. In encounters with young people, the Boomeranger would be wise to pay attention because you may have a chance of remembrance of your young, free, baggage less self. That old self tempered with the wisdom of experience could push your boat back into the river and break out of the eddies of sameness and routine. As the Byrds said, "thinking young and growing older is no sin...Now I think I've got a lot more than just my toys to lend" ('Going Back' by King/ Goffin). Meeting, connecting, and hearing the youth can be a 'magic carpet ride.' Remember to shine on the youth, they have a boon for us Boomers.