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Monday, February 3, 2003

I was a little too buttoned-down to be a hippie, but that doesn't mean I didn't (and still don't, er, do) admire the lifestyle. I got lost in the middle of that sentence, and I don't even smoke! I probably could have gone full-bore hippie myself, if I'd had anyone to lead me down that road. It's hard to live the communal life if you're a committed loner.

Maybe I was just a loner by default. I didn't exactly hide from people, but I pretty much stayed where they couldn't find me. I didn't push them away, but I didn't invite them in, either. It's pretty pathetic when you think about it, really. I was a hippie wannabe. I was an outsider looking in on the most accepting group of people who ever walked barefoot across earth's garden.

Not smoking anything here, I swear.

And here I am a thousand years later, still listening to the same Arlo Guthrie albums I listened to in 1970, except that they're now on CD and so don't have a side one and side two anymore. Something's lost but something's gained, don't you know. Flipping over to side two of Cat Stevens' Foreigner album was like walking next door to the symphony hall and hearing a jazz combo jamming.

While I'm working on corporate spreadsheets whose main purpose is to convince the IRS we're not making enough money to bother taxing (or — shudder — auditing) us at the same time we're convincing the bonding company that we're making so much money they can insure us against defaulting on future contracts, I'm listening to The Band and the Byrds and Buffalo Springfield singing thirty-year-old veiled protest songs, and to Phil Ochs singing bitter, mostly unveiled lyrical poems advocating the overthrow of a government that seems almost benign in contrast to the current regime.

Yes, besides being a hindered hippie, I was also a diffident dissident. I stayed home and watched the protesters on TV. Never arrested, not even cited. I wrote letters, and baited my dad into arguments. Somehow we ended that war anyway.

I haven't really changed much since those days. I might get another chance to march in the streets or live in a commune, but I think I'm still too straitlaced and shy to take advantage. I'll probably be cheering from the sidelines once again.

looking east

From the middle of the garden, looking east through the branches of the dead birch tree.

I do dress better now than I did in those days, and I have better hair. Or maybe it's just that I'm more comfortable with myself than I was when I was younger. Well, who isn't? I've overcome a few personal demons along the way, and cast aside some others before they could take up residence. I like the parts of me that I kept, including the politics and the musical taste.

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Bill, The Daily Epiphany, February 1, A boom in the morning

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