Sunday, February 14, 2016

Love is all you need

I'm just an old hippie.

It took Valentine's Day for me to see that. Not the chocolates and flowers kind. Not the Vermont Teddy Bear kind (For a minute there, I thought Bernie Sanders was the Vermont Teddy Bear).

This is my documentation: I was born in 1951, which means I was 16 years old during the fabled Summer of Love. Clearly, I was swimming smack dab (dammit, I'm dabbing again) in the middle of my generation's optimism.

We really didn't have much to be optimistic about. Vietnam was still raging. Race relations seemingly had reached something of a critical mass. There was a generation gap a mile wide and I was standing on one side of that chasm, with the adults in my family standing on the other.

Damn hippie (circa 1973).
 I was getting ready for college in a few years, and ready to make most of my own decisions. My hair, already showing signs of male pattern baldness, was also reaching toward my shoulders. While I never wore love beads or peace signs, I took to bell bottoms, button flies, sandals and colorful paisley shirts.

I looked the part. And I tried to live it.

I heartily subscribed to the philosophy of my generation, etched forever in the vinyl soundtracks of The Beatles (All You Need Is Love), the Youngbloods (Get Together) and all the rest, that love was the answer.

It seemed to make sense and I knew we were going to change the world. We were serious about it.

Or so I thought.

But we never got around to changing the system. We still needed to make money, which meant we still needed to get jobs, which meant ultimately we had to go mainstream, whether we liked it or not. I mean, even all those rock stars singing about loving each other were getting wealthy singing about it.

Well, OK. So be it. I found a respectable job (journalist) that I kept for 30 years and with it made humble contributions to my little corner of society. I fell in love and got married (a true Valentine's Day love story soaring through its 36th year). My hair did fall out, my blue jeans somehow became relaxed fit and retro tie-dyed seems a little silly to me now (who knows, maybe paisley will come back).

And yet — and yet — somewhere the ember of that Summer of Love still glows inside of me. It was a good time and the driving philosophy behind it all still holds true, I think. The message is still as fresh as ever.

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