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I want to be a hippie when I grow up. I’ve realized in the last couple years that I sort of know what that looks like, and part of it is not me. But part of it is. When I make list and priorities and set goals, there is a part of me, in the back of my mind, running barefoot in my parents yard singing to the summer. When I feel the wind in my face, I think of surrender, and sun, and trees, and fresh-cut grass, and hikes in the woods, and serenity, and then I say to myself: “I want to be a hippie when I grow up.”
Of course, there are several problems with just whole sale claiming that title. For one, I was born in 1979. I missed the summer of love by a good decade or two. Second, I haven’t yet mastered surrender enough for a transcendental psychedelic experience (or the illegal drugs that go along with it). Third, I’m not much of a radical. Maybe I am, but I don’t think I am. I’m also too frightened to be a radical. There’s not much in-your-face, stick-it-to-the-man in me. But there are a lot of places in my life that, I suppose, some non-radicals might be appalled.
So, that establishes what I am not. What do I mean, then, by “I want to be a hippie when I grow up.” I suppose I should stop using that word, since it’s not accurate, but there are two things that I outright associate with this picture of myself and my life: intention and surrender. 1) Living and intentional, engaged, aware, and present life. 2) Surrendering to what the world has to offer (without accepting injustice). Do you see the strange delicate balance? This also means an engagement with the broader world, not just the human. Connection with nature, living in the rural, getting out of the urban, appreciating the beauty and savagery of the world. Voluntary simplicity. Ethical eating. A connection with my food. A consciousness to the waste I produce and attempts to minimize it. Being a steward to the earth and being a part of the earth. A spirituality that embraces these ideals and also explores mystery through myth and storytelling. Respecting my body as the temple that it is – that doesn’t mean living a pristine life, but that means enjoying and respecting and caring for my fleshiness. Movement, eating to live, embracing sex as a healthy part of my life, feeding both my body and my mind. Caring for my home, because it cares for me. Instilling my life with a sense of ritual.
My mother might not realize it if she read this, but a lot of these values are values that were instilled in me in our rural Christian home. Hard work, a respect and love for yourself and your family, a respect and love for the earth that is our home. I may have found the place where I want to practice this realization ultimately through Paganism, but the path that led me there was a conservative Christian home. I don’t see my desire to live in joyful, respectful, fully present, intentional, ethical simplicity at all at odds with my conservative Christian upbringing. Why do I feel so out-of-place when I go home then?