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MY MOM'S MESSAGE Letters from Lennie

Who IS a Hippy

The Price of Freedom

Following One's Heart

LILAC'S BOOK: Random Advice & Hippy Values.

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Bill Orton on Hippy Values Column 2:
The Price of Freedom

       To be a hippy is to BE free. But how does one obtain freedom? How does someone even KNOW that they are free? And freedom to do what?

       As a species, we are unique among the animals, for we have the power to think. This gives us the chance to determine our own actions. We can take in advice and orders and suggestions and input from others. But, ultimately, each person decides what they shall do.

       This is freedom of action. Everyone has it. Some have A LOT of freedom of action. Some have only a little. But the life that you lead is based largely upon your actions. To think otherwise is to hand over the very power of your life to some external force.

       If you are the person who has the largest say in how your life will turn out, then you are the person to blame and to thank for the things you do in life. Who will you marry (or will you NOT marry)? Will you attend college? What sort of work will you pursue? Will you work at all? Will you experiment by putting foreign substances into your own body? Who will you associate with? What music` shall you listen to? If you are walking past a playground, will you stroll over and stay just long enough to swing on the swing?

       These are questions that ultimately only you can answer. Even though you may not feel so, your life will come down to decisions that YOU make. You may disagree. You may say, "No, but my parents," or "No, but I can't quit my job," or "We can't get married...." And you may BELIEVE that you have real reasons that convince you these statements are correct.

       It is a scary thing to be accountable for your own life. It implies you accept the consequences of your own actions. If you make decisions that move your life in any given direction, the only person you must ultimately answer to is yourself.

       Assume you are in college. You are engaged in a field of study that you absolutely abhor. It doesn't matter what that field is. (I won't say one, because you may DIG that field.) Suffice it to say that it is a field of study that you don't like and you are ONLY IN IT because your [FILL IN THE BLANK] said that this field would be good because [FILL IN THE BLANK] .

       Why live like that? Wouldn't you rather follow your heart? If you are in college and find yourself in a major or in a class that you do not like, wouldn't you think it better to change your major or to drop the course?

       And if you did that every semester, wouldn't you find yourself without any direction, never moving towards graduation, never finishing a course that you didn't like....

       Those are the two sides of the coin. The best choices to make are the decisions that follow your heart. But if you listen ONLY to your heart, then you often can make life harder upon yourself.

       The Buddah taught about "The Middle Path," and that is a good phrase to apply here. One extreme is to ONLY listen to your heart. And the other extreme is to pay no attention to what you want. Given the choice, wouldn't you like to find the path in the middle?

       Search inside yourself to try and find out what your heart desires. Ask yourself: "What do I love to do?" Ask that at school. Ask that at home. Ask that at work. If you KNOW what you love to do, then you have reached the first step in your journey to personal fulfillment.

       Does your heart speak to you with consistent messages? If so, you are lucky, for so often it is hard to determine that which is in the heart. But endeavor to learn, for great are the benefits of knowing your heart.

       Then, to pull you towards the middle, you must also consider the factors and the consequences and the repercussions that may follow an action you are considering. If you are looking at changing your major in college, then consider whether the new field is merely a way of escaping or is it truly an inspiration to you. I went from a political science major to a history major. They were essentially the same, really, but they were totally different. I felt MUCH BETTER about history. And to this day, I am glad that I gave myself the gift of that degree. But I chose a field that had little applicability in the work arena. It took me 10 years before my major came in handy. But I always had the gift of understanding the world from the perspective of knowing our history.

       So, to go back to the title, What is the Price of Freedom? Well, simply put, it is the willingness to accept the consequences of your own actions, on a personal level and at the larger level.

       If you do not lift a finger to make your life better and if you do nothing to improve the lot of your fellow beings and if you let life get handed to you on a platter, then you may as well hand the remote control to your neighbor, because you are not ACTING in your life. You are watching reruns of someone else's life, and you're calling it your own.

       If, on the other hand, you are looking around and saying to yourself that the world can be made better and you want to be a part of making things better and you want to live a life that makes you happy and you WILL WORK HARD to make things better -- for yourself and for others -- then you are the lead actor in your life.

       When you play the lead role in determining your fate, then you have yourself to thank for the good things that happen. And even if some rain falls upon your parade, trouble rarely lasts if you are willing to roll up your sleeves and keep working to make things better.


       Feel free to write to me, if you wish. If you have a question, I promise a response. If you wish to have the answer printed in this column, just say so in your email message.

When I was around 6 When I was around 34 taking Lilac into the ocean for the first time

If you like this column, then check out
LILAC'S BOOK: Random Advice & Hippy Values,
a book that Bill wrote for his daughter and which has been on
H I P P Y L A N D continuously since January 3, 1997.

This column © 2000 by Bill Orton.