Sunday, August 01, 2010

Hippie Dippie, What?

Do you have a shower routine? I do. I get in and wet my hair first, then I wash my face, shampoo my hair, apply conditioner, which I leave on while I squirt fruity bath gel on a loofah and wash everything else. Last I shave my legs and touch up any other areas, rinse the conditioner, and I'm done. This is my shower routine. Rarely do I deviate. Rarely do I swap steps. Sometimes I brush my teeth in the shower. Maybe I'm more structured than other people, but I generally like routine. Habit is familiar and sets clear expectations for the day. So this is the routine that I have mastered after thirty some years of bathing myself. For some reason I thought of this today as I took a shower. This standard routine, this rote activity that I complete many times a week. And it led me to think about all the rote activities that make up a typical day in a life. Why do I take some standard task and make it so boring that I almost hate to do it? Why do we become so closed, structured and routinized as we become adults? Where does our openness and creativity and spontaneity go? What are the alternatives and can making your bed ever be anything but a chore? Why am I thinking about this at all?

Last weekend I walked/jogged on our treadmill a couple of times. A good routine that I'm working to re-establish. But I needed something to entertain myself while I sweat. With the wonders of Netflix Instant Watch, I had an endless supply of movies, television shows, documentaries, almost too many options. On a whim I chose the documentary, Commune. And hence have been over thinking some of the boring drawbacks of "normal life."

I'm fascinated by the late 1960's and early 1970's. Commune tells the story, through current interviews and old video footage, of the Black Bear commune that was started by a group of hippies in the late 1960's. After soliciting movie stars for the money, this intrepid group of artists and free thinkers bought a huge parcel of isolated property in Northern California to start their "free land for free people" movement. People breaking out of the restrictive, nuclear family standard of the 1950's. People that strove to create something unique and satisfying in an entirely free way. Counterculture revolutionaries creating their own intentional communities based on a very little other than a desire to live outside of American society.  The old video footage is fascinating. The first couple of years, the first winter in particular, were hard slogs. Starting from scratch on an entirely unpopulated piece of land, the group had to construct buildings, procure supplies and figure out how to scratch out a life for themselves on this isolated land, miles and miles from any store or neighbor.
It's a brave decision to set out on your own when you don't have to. Though some of the things that just struck me as awkward and untenable were the communal aspects of the commune, (surprise, surprise.) I don't want to share a huge clothes closet with other people. And that's what Black Bear seemed to have, a huge set of cubby holes where everyone just shoved clothes, you grabbed something and that's what you wore. What? No. Or the chopping down trees totally nude. This seems like a severe safety hazard to me. Or the lax parenting style where the group parented all the children, while kids ran around in the woods for hours on end, nude with no supervision. Nope, not for me. Though these commune members have superb names, and bless their kids with some creative monikers like Hoss, Creek, Tesilya, Geba, Efrem, Cedar and Osha.

I admire outsiders, those people who have become unsatisfied with their daily, structured lives and seek something for themselves outside of the typical commercialized American suburban or city life. Now don't get me wrong, I love my commercialized suburban life in most ways. I have zero intention of moving to a plot of forest in the country and living off the land. I like iced coffee. I like a washer and dryer. I like the internet. I like being able to take a shower every morning, with hot water that I didn't have to lug and heat myself. I like leisure time where I can sit and navel gaze. I have no romanticized version of the good ole' days. The good ole' days were physically demanding and exhausting, particularly for women with all the homemaking tasks generally on our shoulders. But I admire people who shake off the sometimes coma inducing modernity that we take for granted and try something new, different and new, or old in this case.

I think it must be the late summer languor that tends to sweep over me in August. But I'm bored. I'm rarely bored. I'm bored when there are a thousand passions and interests surrounding me. But the immensity of all the choices almost paralyzes me this time of year.  The idea of living on an isolated, strange bit of land surrounded by a cavalcade of idealistic hippies is alluring.  Not the free love orgies, of which there were many, but the lack of structure, the freedom to swim naked in the creek, then pull fresh vegetables from the garden and cook for the group, then lounge around on the front porch talking about communism or the Bhagavad Gita. That just sounds good today. I wouldn't like it long term. I hate the smell of patchouli and I'm too close-minded sexually, but the mundanity of sitting in a meeting or answering phone calls or blow drying my hair, I just can't face another day of that this August. This feeling always fades. Two weeks of malaise and I'm back and rejuvenated, as fall is just around the corner.  I think I'll hang on and hold off on selling all my belongings and buying some flowing dresses and bell bottoms and moving out to Black Bear. I think Joe will appreciate that. But it makes me think, how can I spice up my routines? How can I reinvigorate the banal? What can I do to enliven the prosaic duties of my life?

So that is my mission. This week I'm shaking up the standard. I'm getting out there and chopping it up. Mixing up the routine, maybe I'll shampoo my hair last. Who knows? I might get a little crazy. Hang on.


Joe said...

Umm, if you shampoo last...won't that undo the conditioner?
Oh, and thanks for not selling our stuff and moving in w/ the dirty hippies. Love You!

Katrina said...

I am a very routine oriented person too. And am much worse after having triplet- however routine was survival! I do get bored sometimes too but I always fall back to the routine. It works and it makes me happy. :)

And Joe- you crack me up!!