|All manner of hippie stuff|
Always an early adopter, he introduced us to marijuana and then various other consciousness altering substances. As young suburbanites we yearned to get out of the housing tracts and into the bohemian vibe of Topanga. Many weekends we would race through there in my little red sports car and stumble upon parties and love-ins. In those communal days, as long as you were wearing the appropriate threads (clothes) you were welcome. No invitation needed. It was the era of free love, community, and music.
|Creekside dining @ Inn of the Seventh Ray|
We arranged to meet at the classic Topanga restaurant, Inn of the Seventh Ray, to talk old times and get up to date. Set creekside, the Inn is an institution with healthy organic food and even better atmosphere...serene and in nature. My overt and sincere agenda was to catch up with an old friend, my covert motive was to see how he was faring in 'retirement' given my own rocky transition. We had similar backgrounds with secure, highly structured careers in government service that led to post work pensions, we grew up in the suburbs, and we were comrades in the cultural revolution of the 70s. Our paths diverged when he transferred to San Diego State and I went to UC Berkeley. Although he eventually joined the Employment Development Dept (after years wandering around the world and academia) and I became a teacher and administrator with LAUSD, we had a lot in common. And as the song said, 'what a long strange trip its been.'
After catching up on history, he shared the challenge he has managing his time. With its lack of imposed structure, his new lifestyle has presented unexpected dilemmas and rewards similar to those I have written about throughout these blogs. But the issue that hit him by surprise was our old friend cannabis. He related his dance with the herb, like it was a long lost girl friend. Still loves her but has a hard time sorting out the mixed emotions of attraction, disappointment, and addiction.
|Sacrament or devil's weed|
It has been reported that with the aging and retiring of the Boomer generation, the old pipes have been dusted off and more weed consumed by the now older ex-hippies. So, it doesn't seem to be a situation unique to my old friend. Many questions arise out of this dynamic: 1) Managing and limiting use when the usual constraints (job, kids in the house) are gone, 2) Health considerations when old habits are imposed on an older body (hang overs, excessive eating--'munchies'), 3) Possible enhancing fun and patience in learning new skills, 4) Integrating the emotional and spiritual insights into the latter stage of life.
The struggle of my successful, affluent, professional friend is not anomalous. The journey of older life can and should be filled with indulging in preferred recreations. It may also be a time of spiritual questing and discovery. New or long dormant interests in creative arts can at last be explored. Coming from a pleasure seeking generation in the 70s, our formative years were indulgent. Being conscious of one's age requires threading the needle between a possibly sacred experience that reveals and expresses deep seated desires and and a sacrilegious excess into escapism and dependence. How one navigates this path can facilitate the redemption and reward for all we aspired to in our youth or a journey down into delusion and escape. (By the way, reefer could be replaced with any pleasure done to excess; food, travel, alcohol, yoga, consumption). Dive into that cauldron find the tasty mix that satisfies and keep your eyes on your dream.
The answer may yet be Blowin' in the Wind.