Who IS a Hippy

The Price of Freedom

Following Your Own Heart

MY MOM'S MESSAGE Letters from Lennie

LILAC'S BOOK: Random Advice & Hippy Values.

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Mom on guitar Lennie Orton on guitar       If you were lucky enough to be at the right love-in or party in the 1960s, you may have heard my mother playing guitar and singing. For more than 30 years, she was never without her guitar. My brother and sister and I were the luckiest ones of all, for she sang us children to sleep each night. She would come in with her gobblet of red wine and her guitar and sing "Henry Martin" or a Dylan song or something by the Beatles or Donovan. Now, some of the thousand songs that my mom had in her repertoir are ones that I sing at night to my own daughter, Lilac.

My father So how does one wind up being a hippy?       That actually is a pretty good question. It is is all the more intriguing when one considers the evolution of each person. We BECOME the person we are, almost as a process of mini-evolution. My own parents are middle-classed. A teacher and a waitress. Both graduated from college. Parents of three children before they turned 25. Homeowners. And, also, hippies. Are those descriptive words at conflict? I don't think so.

Lennie and Stu in the early days of their marriage Unlikely hippies, my parents?       My parents had the core beliefs of what I define as "hippy values" early in their marriage, but they were also products of their times. This picture is from ten years earlier than the guitar shot. It represents a different age and era, but not different people. Since we are each always in the process of BECOMING the person that we will eventually be, we should look with fondness upon the whole of life, as steps in a journey.

Mom playing at Griffith Park They each followed their heart.       Coming back to the issue of what makes someone a hippy, I would say that it is the freedom to do what is in your heart. Music gave to my mother the chance to put her feelings into words and rhythm. She was a remarkable musician and was even offered a recording contract with Arista, but the important thing is not what her music brought to her from the outside, but what it gave to her on the inside. It was her liberation and joy.

The bug when we took it to Arizona Freedom through mechanics.       My father experienced some of his greatest freedom through mechanics. I remember when we drove out of the VW showroom with that bug, all of us just piled in, right off the floor. He let the kids in his classroom paint it. And we drove it to Arizona. When you have a mechanic in the family, you can confidently go on long journeys, which we did almost every weekend, camping, exploring, just driving.

Our living room in the 70s Carry freedom into your life       Make life the way you wish it to be, including at home. (You'll find my mom's guitar next to the fireplace, alongside a collection of various musical instruments. The bamboo and net structure is there because my mom digs bamboo.) Fashion the space around you with love. Being happy at home is not so much a question of having lots of stuff. It is about letting your heart be your guide, whether you have control over only one room or over a whole house.

The path to the top It may not be YOUR path.       To live the life of "hippy values" may not take you to the top of the corporate ladder, nor may it yield for you baskets full of money. (Some hippies do get rich, and good for them. That's just fine.) For myself, money is not the final measure of how I deem myself a success. I want to be able to say that I spent enough time singing my daughter to sleep and that I gave her enough kisses and told her often enough that I love her. I want to be able to spend enough time with my wife, who continues to be the most interesting person I know and the one most easily able to make me laugh. Money is part of life, but success is an empty shell without such treasures as laughter and love.

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.