I’m reading “Magic Bus: On the Hippie Trail from Istanbul to India”
So, of course, as I write this I am listening to Magic Bus by The Who.
In the book, I’m in India. The author has just visited the ashram in Rishikesh – where the Beatles came to find enlightenment, get off drugs (surprise!) and practice transcendental meditation, where much of the White Album was written, and Mia Farrow’s sister Prudence locked herself in her room – inspiring Dear Prudence (my favourite Beatles song).
Cue Dear Prudence.
I’ve been thinking a lot about India lately. Subletting my apartment somehow, asking a friend about woofing, and taking off for the winter months. Of course this is tied to some sort of finding myself / getting away from the winter / wow, I’m living in Canada again panic.
There is a section in the Magic bus book where the author is discussing with an Indian person the failure of the hippie movement. The owner of Pilgrim’s Books – Rama Tiwari (I went to the Pilgrim’s books in Thamel, Kathmandu) had great insight into this question, one that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately – what happened? He said:
We can only live in happiness if we conquer the restless dream that paradise is in a world other than our own.
Essentially, if you are travelling to find answers, you’re never going to find them.
I asked my parents what happened, why the ideals of the late 60’s and early 70’s went out the window. Why the same people that took up transcendental meditation and practiced free love, then bought Lexus’s and destroyed the economy.
They aren’t in the best position to provide insight because they came of age in the late 70’s and were tail end baby boomers. Their friends’ older brothers and sisters smoked pot and travelled through Afghanistan – my parents got jobs, got married at 22 and bought a house.
I don’t think they’ve ever smoked pot. Or if they did, they hated it.
My mom, a pre-school teacher, said that it was part of coming of age. The hippies eventually wanted to nest and provide for young. Which meant stuff and a house, which can only really be purchased with money you earn from a job and the security you get from living in a place with social services, running water and taxes.
So, did these people search and search, not find an answer, go home and find an answer. The answer being the status quo?
Through my travel experience, countless times I’ve met people that could not understand why I was so far from my family and what I was doing working in their country. If not living in abject poverty, 9/10 these people were usually happier and more satisfied with their lives than anyone I knew at home.
Which kept me going. Obviously there was an answer in Turkey, or Indonesia, or Nepal – if my friends there were happy, then if I lived there too I could learn how to be fulfilled like them.
Apparently, it’s not that easy. The real peace and sustainable change comes from within. If our society is fucked, if our lives are not fulfilled, we have a role to play in fixing it. We can’t run away somewhere else looking for answers, we have to work with what we have.
For now …