Saturday, March 28, 2009

Drugs, Sex, and Rock and Roll

The one definition of hippie pagan that surprised me was lack of inhibition. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. That's one of the things that makes me feel out of place in Massachusetts--too much inhibition here, I mean. I'm forever getting myself in trouble for speaking my mind, being too free/relaxed with my body, laughing too loud, talking too loud, speaking too openly with strangers, dancing too freely, etc. I learned all these things in California, of course.

The talking and laughing too loud part came from my lower middle class family. When we got together as an extended family, everyone talked at once. I had a professor at Harvard Divinity School with a southern background who called this style "conversation by interruption." We didn't just interrupt, we talked at the same time--over one another. I only found one friend in my adult life in Massachustts who could do this, and she was from the south.

A lot of the rest of it came from my young adult years in the era of drugs, sex and rock & roll. It's hard to be too inhibited when you're stoned. Psychedelic music lent itself to free form dancing, which was just all right with me since it gave me a chance to move my body from the inside out, following with my feelings rather than some predetermined dance steps. I'd clearly never make it on "Dancing with the Stars."

My generation got turned on to birth control pills in a major way. We didn't know any dangers, and we believed in loving the one we were with. It was almost a religion. Why be exclusive when that just caused cheating and jealousy? Openness in sexuality meant freedom from the uptightness of our parents' generation, many of whose marriages had ended in divorce anyway. We protected ourselves from hurt by knowing that love was all around. What wasn't around yet was AIDS or even herpes. If we got the "clap," we could take antibiotics, and even that didn't happen very often.

It wasn't just about sex, though. It was the whole lifestyle. We had a sort of blind faith that things would happen that needed to happen, that if you needed something--or someone--what you needed would show up in your life, if you weren't too stressed out to see it. So we would say, "I'm easy," affirming that we were in the flow.

On some level, I suppose I still feel this way inside--only I do a lot of planning and arranging, just to be sure. Now I live by a calendar, everything scheduled, even times to relax. It used to be different, and I miss those days.

Rock & roll provided the proof texts and the accompaniment for our lives: "when the inside is on the outside, there's no pain"--"it's only castles burning, find someone who's turning and you will come around"--"feed your head"--"here comes the seems like years since it's been clear"--"something's happening here"--"you, who are on the road, must have a code that you can live by, and so, become yourself"--"when you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with" and on and on.

Anyway, the funny thing about being called hippie pagan is that I kind of wish it were true. I wish I were as uninhibited as I once was. Maybe I need to find my hippie pagan young adult self and reconnect.


  1. Great post, Dorothy! Takes me back to those days myself.

  2. Are you familiar with the books by Deborah Tannen? They're great, but you really need to read her chapter on interrupting. It's subcultures, and they each have a different length of time to pause to let the person you're talking with know it's a good time break in and speak. In some subcultures (as you know), that length of pause is a negative number: you're supposed to step on the other person's words. When you speak in that style, interrupting is defined, not as breaking in, but as changing the subject!
    Anyway, I think that chapter is in the book called That's Not What I Meant! You'll enjoy it.