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Hippie at Heart

Why I Love…and Hate Hippies

Watch this video and tell me how this song makes you feel. Give it at least a minute. The way the lead singer dances and all his band members blissfully jump around as if they’ve got it all figured out just makes me happy.  And the weirder hippies are, the more I love them. Their weirdness and their openness are contagious.

You must understand, I am more Clint Eastwood meets MTV‘s cynical teen star, Daria, so I’m not the kind of person who walks around hugging my neighbors. Though I will give a homeless person my leftovers and hold the door for someone if the mood strikes me. I’m not totally rotten to the core. There’s a gentle soul in there somewhere. And that’s who the hippies speak to.

I’ve already worked this out in therapy, so this should make sense: Hippies represent innocence, ideals, joie de vie, and everything good under the sun. They speak to the part of me that still believes communal living can work and people can all just get along.

Remember when you were young how you saw the world? You weren’t completely aware yet of how people could hurt you or how you could hurt them. Your faith hadn’t been tested. Hippies remind me of that viewpoint and convince me that there’s still hope for love and better days.

But then the song ends. I grow up. I experience more. I  read about the tragic Altamont free concert in ’69. Woodstock just wasn’t possible twice. I read interviews by former hippies who admit the naivete of their youth. I enter the working world and answer to a lot of self-proclaimed former hippies. They went corporate. At the end of the day you got to make a buck, right? Even Bob Dylan warned us, you’ve Gotta Serve Somebody, no matter who you are. It turns out that love, peace, and happiness are wonderful ideals that are almost impossible to maintain.

And this is why I love and hate hippies. They’re the yin and yang of my conscious. On one hand I cherish the idea that all we need is love and on the other hand, I know that free love has a price. I think this is not unlike having the devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other. It would just be easier to listen to one of them wouldn’t it? But I think I have to listen to the nagging voices of both.