Sweet Melinda! 40 years ago today Weedstock hit Yasgur’s farm with a blissed-out thwack–officially drawing the curtain on the muddy 60s. It was a decade that held a crazy mix of peace, protest, riots, revolution, free expression, assassination, free love, and segregation. And it was left to Woodstock to spin a hazy hope–part possibility and part fantasy–into the 70s.
I was in grade 10 when Woodstock boiled up. I had a huge desire to go without a chance of that happening. So the following year when the movie Woodstock came to Yorkton’s drive-in theatre, we Springside-five relived all four days in two hours–and then…relived it over the next 7 or 8 years.
My Woodstock was in the 70s–this is where I lived, loved and experimented–and somehow, toward the end, surfaced.
Back to the Garden still clings to me like a tight waistcoat. Like Joni Mitchell and the song itself, we wrote ourselves in after the event. After the rain stopped and the farm dried up and the smoke cleared and everybody went home, people knew something had happened. There was a big human slurry left in the bottom of the hash pipe. We sprouted from that. We grew out of the fertile mystique of Woodstock. Part sweetness and light, part shit and gonzo. We knew that all that beauty and righteousness was mixed up with so much that was screwed up, but we plunged into the hallucination hoping for form and revelation. And mostly, we did surface–somewhat illuminated.
It’s part of me now, ingrown. Peace, love and free expression are still and always dreams to seek and hold on to. Just like back then,when the Incredible String Band played When You Find Out Who You Are, and Joan Baez sang Dylan’s I Shall be Released, we saw the connection, jumped into the Rambler and headed to the coast to go looking.
40 years hence, I’m still looking, now more often with the help of people like St. Benedict and Rumi and Patrick Kavanagh and Anne Lamont and Kathleen Norris and Cohen and Merton.
Over these decades I’ve learned that I’m ignorant of most things. Learned that yes, the "inviolable self" is part illusion, as is the "free self." And learned that, in the end, any self worth having is about a symbiosis of self-care and care of other selves.