5-Year-Old Returned Home Safely After Getting On The Wrong Bus When I Was a Hippie (Part 1 of 5)

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When I Was a Hippie (Part 1 of 5)

That was 1980. Janet and I hid (from my creditors) at Shasta Abbey, a monastery in northern California where we became Zen masters. Suddenly, I was very sick, and when it got worse, I dealt with it like I used to – I ran!

We took the bus to the Bay Area and squeezed into a small apartment in some nondescript building in Lafayette, California. Janet went to work at a stationery store and I worked at Radio Shack, and I knew I couldn’t stay long before someone found me. We either walked or took the bus to work because driving was out of the question, even if we had a car. The lingering sensitivity we developed at the monastery, exacerbated only by my illness, ruled out any aggressive activity. Driving is an aggressive activity in the Bay Area! In order to function again in the world, I had no choice but to somehow desensitize my mind, and the unfortunate result of this desensitization was to temporarily block any further insight from being generated. I need to find a place to calm down.

The zen sickness isn’t getting better and I’m tired of going back and looking for the bill collector. I knew I had to make a change, so one afternoon I found myself writing another note to Janet before boarding my trusty Greyhound, this time bound for Tennessee. With only a few bucks in my pocket, I just wish they would take me to “The Farm,” a famous commune led by Stephen Gaskin, the original San Francisco hippie refugee.

When I boarded Greyhound, I noticed the smell didn’t change – diesel mixed with . . . humanity?

I finally made it to Tennessee, hitchhiked from the bus stop to the farm, within walking distance, and in the feverish anticipation of the great new experience to come, the zen sickness mysteriously disappeared. This has always been my reaction when I leave the monastery, and I seem to blow all my accumulated introspection back into the world!

A few miles later, I’m still walking and wondering if I’m going the wrong way — yet again. But ahead, I could see a dilapidated garage-like building in the middle of nowhere. God! This isn’t a farm, is it?

Oh no! A long-haired hippie guards it! Yes, that’s right, the farm. I have reached the gatehouse.

While beating myself up for not doing my homework before spending the last few dollars on a bus ticket, the skinny janitor invited me in. Strict instructions not to go beyond the concierge, where I slept in a loft for the better part of a week with people from all over the world, constantly being interviewed by hippies, asking unusual questions.

I found out later that the farm was crowded with women and children, so that newcomers were closely screened. I must have answered all the questions more or less correctly, for I was escorted one morning to the main courtyard about half a mile from the gatehouse, and from there to a small three-bedroom house with an attic attic a little further– The new home I will share with 6 men, 10 women and 11 children.

About 1,500 people settled on the 2,000 acres that make up the farm – 1,300 women and children and about 200 men (who went out of their way to support women and children. Some things never change!) Advocating to young women across the country that if You have kids and no old people, welcome to the farm! I remind myself again that I must do my homework before going off-road!

The soy factory (my first assignment), bakery, and kitchen feed the community and are a hub of activity.At the dairy, we soak hundreds of pounds of soybeans every night in giant stainless steel vats and process them the next day into tofu, tempeh, miso, soy milk and soy ice cream, with farm moms lining up at the windows for their five gallon barrel

After a brief career on the dairy farm, I helped farmhands hand-plant 15 acres of tomato plants, then found a job with the masonry crew who trucked 60 miles north each day to the Nashville area to build solar houses.

The farm is very active in cottage industries; home building, tie-dye T-shirts, professional bands touring the country, nuke busters (small hand-held devices used to detect radiation from secret government trucks illegally transporting nuclear material), and other inventive ventures , such as a vegan restaurant in Nashville. These all help support the commune, earn about a dollar per person per day, and we make ends meet by eating a lot of soybeans, baking our own bread, growing our own veggies, and most importantly hope Some of these folks’ parents can throw in some money — or at least some peanut butter and Hershey bars.

Zen sickness is gone forever, at least not when I was on the farm. Back then I didn’t know how the spirit world worked, it was just a short respite from past karma that had to be faced eventually. . . important moment. As a result, I have had the good fortune to meet many kind people, each with their own unique spirit, from my skinny, scarred friend whose long hair got tangled in a potato picker and lost his scalp, to my female friend scattered throughout the commune.

We have doctors and lawyers, some dentists – and a lot of love. Everyone took a vow of poverty when they entered the commune, giving up all worldly possessions (easy for me to do), so everyone was in the same boat and seemed to be in the same house – mine! Married people sleep with their kids in the three downstairs bedrooms, while singles sleep in the loft (one never knows who they end up with and in whose sleeping bag)!

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