Star has asked twice now for me to talk about being a hippie, which I was in the early 1970s (a little later than most). As you can see from my wind spinner above, I haven't changed that much in my tastes. It hangs outside on my front porch.
I had separated from my then-husband and given up completely on marriage. I was living in Sacramento, California, working for the Department of Education, and my young son went to live with his father and his new wife and baby. Chris (my son) was ten and needed more stability than I was able to provide. Suddenly I was without any obligations and decided to pursue meditation and the counterculture, which I felt I had missed out on. I was getting ready to turn thirty, which can seem pretty scary (it sure did then, what was I thinking?). I quit my job and decided to live on my savings.
My meditation teacher introduced me to Sufi dancing and some of his hippie friends, who lived in a huge old house in downtown Sacramento. The old mansion had a ballroom in the basement, where the dancing was held. Before long I had been introduced to the people who lived there, and I petitioned to join the commune. I decided that people should call me "Sunshine."
Twenty-four people lived in the house together, sharing all the duties of keeping it going, and we all paid rent for our room. I don't remember how much I paid at the time, but it wasn't much. Most of the people who lived there had money from somewhere, I guess, and a few people (fewer than a dozen, I think) actually held down jobs. The rest of us played, meditated, and took care of the household duties.
The kitchen was also huge, and the meal duties rotated weekly. We ate one meal together, in the late afternoon (dinner). If it was your week to cook, you and the others assigned to the task decided what to have for dinner, bought the groceries, prepared the meal and cleaned up afterward.
We had mandatory "house meetings" every week, so things could be discussed, assigned, and any concerns addressed. If there were problems between us, we had small group meetings. And as you might guess, problems arose almost constantly. I remember one time when I confessed that I had once tickled my little sister until she fainted. They must have discussed it, because a week later I was accosted in the kitchen and tickled until I couldn't stand it any longer. When the ordeal was over, they told me that they had helped me repay a karmic debt.
I lived there for two or three years, I'm not sure now from this place in time. But I loved some of the people dearly and could not stand some of the others. I learned how to share my living space in a new way, although anyone from a large family would not have had nearly the adjustment that a single child would. Women who have taken care of large families didn't have serious culture shock either.
I learned that the peace movement, the desire to raise environmental consciousness, even back then, excited my spirit to be a part of the solution and not part of the problem. It's been almost four decades since that part of my life, but it will always color the way I see things. Being a hippie seeped into my genes and now I'm just a flower child with forty years practice.