A shared religion

Hop, skip, and jump through a most incredible period in the American experience. Maybe you were part of it. Or maybe it was your grandparents. This is what I remember.

When Jon and Marsha celebrated married in 1973, they had this hippie wedding party a couple of weeks later in Austin, Texas. A friend at Windy Point at Lake Travis (Austin) a couple of weeks later. All of their friends were there, including a Venezuelan pal who barbecued a goat. Photo by Jon Lebkowsky via  Wikimedia Commons.
When Jon and Marsha celebrated their marriage in 1973, they had this hippie wedding party a couple of weeks later in Austin, Texas. All of their friends were there, including a Venezuelan pal who barbecued a goat. Photo by Jon Lebkowsky via Wikimedia Commons.

As for my story:

When she went off with him that morning, she had no idea where they were headed. Just ventured off out of trust, both of them believing Peace and Love would reign after the Revolution. It was almost a shared religion, whatever that might be.

~*~

To learn more about my Hippie Trails novels, go to my page at Smashwords.com.

No starry-eyed zombies

My novel Ashram delves into the everyday religious and psychological underpinnings of yoga. The story focuses on the surging popularity of yoga practice in the 1960s and ’70s as it burst upon the American scene from India. Set on a mountain farm not far from several large cities, the story follows eight aspirants who range from beginner to advanced stages as their routines and dreams interact through a single 24-hour period. What they discover is that the physical exercises are only the beginning of the encounter. The real mastery has to do with the nitty-gritty of living together as much as meditative transcendence and spiritual wisdom.

Mahabharat05ramauoft_0671One by one, Swami summoned the staff to the office. In all, eleven realized the time had come to move on. They had learned all they could here, for now. It was time to spread their wings and fly. Get up early only when they wanted to. Maybe watch TV and party hard, too.

“I’m not going to be surrounded by a bunch of starry-eyed zombies,” she told the remaining seven. “I’m not interested in having a large following or a big organization. That’s not what this ashram’s about.” Rudra, Uma, Veda, Satyabhama, Gandharva, and Vajra all looked puzzled. Only Garuda seemed to know Swami’s reasoning.

“We’re here to transform individuals,” she said. “You’re the world’s future. That’s what we’re preparing.”

~*~

To learn more about my novel Ashram, go to my page at Smashwords.com.

Ashram

I KNEW there was something DIFFERENT about me…

As I’ve been saying, hippies still come in all varieties.

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In an interview, artist Jean-Michel Basquiat was asked why people were drawn so crudely in his work. His answer, “I think people are generally crude; I don’t know many refined people.”

Imagine sharing Basquiat’s thoughts as an eight year old little girl.

Imagine that he could have possibly said those words the day I was born.

I am weird. I have known this for quite some time, possibly since I was eight years old. I was led to believe that I had to “fit in” and “be a certain way” or people “would talk about me”. The irony was I didn’t like most people.

When I was a kid, “fun” for me was finding a secluded place to wander off to, put a blanket down, look up at the sky, and make words out of the negative spaces between tree branches.

I still like doing that.

Told you I am…

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Taking poetry to the streets

Our friend Jeremiah Walton is an enterprising young poet who garnered attention at his Nostrovia! Poetry press while still in high school. But he’s not resting there.
As he describes his newest, and most ambitious, project: “We are going beyond the Internet and mass media communications, and taking passion and poetry into the streets. We’re aiming at apathy’s throat.”
(Oh, how that reminds me of the ’60s! You go, boy!)
That’s why he’s seeking support via a crowd fundraising campaign to launch Books & Shovels, a cross country traveling bookstore.
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According to his announcement:
B&S distributes publications through street performing, setting up shop at open mics, slams, festivals, and other literary events. The Books & Shovels team and I will be sleeping in the station wagon as we travel, debuting at the 2014 NYC Poetry Festival and following the East Coast south.
Pledges will make a difference in the project’s success, allowing us to directly cause a rift in the artistic community. This is not for artists (though we love you guys), this is for those without passion in their lives. We are encouraging others to find excitement in living, to not be afraid to bleed for their dreams.
Pledges can be made at Books & Shovels’s IndieGoGo page. We understand not everyone can pledge finances, but we are still asking for your contribution. Sharing the Books & Shovel’s campaign page through your Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and among your friends, is beyond appreciated.  We’ve meticulously worked on the campaign, organizing awesome rewards for pledges, and working with others to make sure we can make the difference we promise.
Individually, we are whispers. Collectively, we are a scream.
~*~
“We will be loud,” he promises, adding” “My projects have destroyed my sleep cycle.”
So here’s the invitation. Check it out. Drop in if he’s in your neighborhood or extend hospitality.

Crossing the line

Once you inhaled that first toke or joined in an antiwar protest, you crossed an eye-opening line. Quite simply, the public officials lost their credibility at the same time your comrades earned your trust and you discovered a clandestine community that had existed right before you all along. But now it extended much further than you’d ever suspected. Others would now see you as a hippie. Even before you began hitchhiking.

As the bumper on this hippie van proclaims, "Flashbacks happen." Photo by Marshall Astor via Wikimedia Commons.
As the bumper on this hippie van proclaims, “Flashbacks happen.” Photo by Marshall Astor via Wikimedia Commons.

Lurching under backpacks, the wild-haired duo hit the road. They would, DL acknowledged, choose which side of the highway they’d stand on when extending their thumbs. They’d accept a ride or decline, hoping for another. They’d decide what to give in return, whether nothing more than their silence or conversation, a handful of gorp, or something more. Embarked on unfamiliar trails, though, they’d have little reason to glance back. Everything would be in the route ahead.

~*~

To learn more about my Hippie Trails novels, go to my page at Smashwords.com.

Reading the riot act

As the eight aspirants who move to a mountain farm in my novel demonstrate, what follows at the yoga farm is an often turbulent journey through the heart to enlightenment and bliss. It’s Om, Sweet Om, in the end.

Arjuna_and_Bhimen_preparing_for_battle,_from_RazmnamehThe next night Swami decided to close the place. Read the proverbial riot act. Said they were all there to avoid real-life struggles. Told them they were lazy. On top of it all, “You’re the worst hatha yoga outfit in America. It’s disgusting!” …

 “How can Swami do this?” he asked Veda.

“What, close up? Nah, she won’t do it. Too many people need what we have to offer. She’s just saying it for shock value. Shake us all up.” …

The announcement marked a change in the underlying direction of the ashram. No longer would it be a place where people could either come to exercise and renew themselves in a pastoral setting, as the paying “spa” guests did, or to exchange labor and a donation for an opportunity to hang out in something resembling a commune. The shift had begun early that summer when Swami started talking about not just teaching an import from India but defining an American yoga as well.

Maybe all she was doing was closing up the old shop so she could open the new.

~*~

To learn more about my novel Ashram, go to my page at Smashwords.com.

Ashram