Sunday, July 3, 2011

Free Hugs

It's finally Summer here in the Pacific Northwest. Last weekend I took my open heart to a music festival in the woods, where I dressed it up in a "Free Hugs" t-shirt. A good hug is good medicine; a good hug amongst like-minded revelers and life-lovers is heaven.

Camping for a few days with a few thousand souls can bring out the best and worst in people, and there are a million things to take away from the experience--life lessons, inspiration, a glow, a sadness, a hangover (if you choose!). Maria's life is such that it makes sense to be realistic, to not indulge in Utopian daydreams or runaway longings. However...the older I get and the more human company I experience, the more I run into a vast underground of downright Good People. In order for me to have cynicism as a religion, I think I'd have to lock myself away and barely speak to anyone. It would just be too hard to maintain in the face of the shining love in the core of most of us.

When I talk about this, I still have to use words like "core" or "underground", because the majority of us have been brought up and now hold jobs, identities and some sort of territory in the brittle shell-layer of our culture. Being "too" open, loving, generous and compassionate is seen as weak, stupid, scary or even crazy by many average people out there, living under the rule of fear. But as thick, calloused and controlling as the corporate/military social structure seems to be, it will never be successful at turning everyone into an obedient, unfeeling drone. There are just too many free spirits out there, too many creative galaxy hitchhikers, dharma bums, kids with laser-vision and elders bestowing practical grace. They never went away--have, in fact, always been here, puzzling, infuriating and inspiring us (and each other) since time began. 

In a gathering such as the one I attended, things are boiled down to the basics of human interest--can we stay warm, dry and fed enough, and have a great time while still respecting the rights and privacy of our neighbors? Why yes, yes we can! No refrigerator, nylon walls and virtually no private territory...still, we can live, share and whoop it up without serious injury or offense. It can be done, it is done often, and many people are quite sincere about practicing peaceful conflict resolution and personal response-ability. I witnessed a tribe that likes to walk their talk--they are the core of this beautiful oceanic neighborhood, and are timeless. 

Some might say that a festival is an artificial experience, but it could easily be the other way around. I walked into a dance, a marketplace and a village, as well as a party. Things were bought, sold and bartered. People volunteered their time and energy to clean, pass on information and take care of the "alter-abled". Musicians and artisans were given a place to shine, and people were given room to express their inner clown, bunny, gypsy, child, shaman or healer. Of course there were kids and "plastic" people just looking for the next good checkout...but mostly there were lovers of life, shy or bold, rich and poor, but all cognizant of a certain kind of connection with music, place and each other. There were countless hugs, much singing and playing. Discord of any kind was minimal...not due to the presence of security or police, but because most people really don't want to hurt or fight with each other. It actually takes a lot of abuse to indoctrinate a person into inner or outer war. Given a decent chance, humans are mostly kind, and will trade hot dogs for sunscreen in a heartbeat. :)

All of this creativity and freedom will probably be viewed as a threat for quite some time. A medicine woman told me many years ago of a "rainbow" tribe (many colors, not just natives) that carries traditional wisdom, medicine, and common sense, as well as the ability to open the human heart and eyes to the beauty of the world. These people, she told me, are the ones coming to the rescue of the lost, displaced and wounded when any kind of s**t hits the fan. The members of this tribe are, she insisted, what being is all about. "VERY important," she told me. "Your children and grandchildren will be among them." I am a grandmother now, and I'm paying attention.

I'm quite lucidly opening my arms. It's worth the risk of rejection, because love does not depend on how many good hugs I'm given, but the quality of what I can give. This is it, and I wish you joy.


  1. Oh beautiful. Thank You.
    xoxo ♥

  2. Your post reminds me of the song "Dancing in the Moonlight" by Van Morrison, if you are "old enough" to remember that :) (Lyrics are on google in case you don't) :). It took me back to the 60's - to the days of the "love ins." Sounds like you had your own personal Woodstock. Love the "galaxy hitchhikers" - yeah man, a little Timothy Leary and Moody Blues please...

    Cool Baby - :) LOL

  3. Lol...think of a more futuristic Woodstock, and you've almost got the picture. But so much more than that. As my youngest son said..."It somehow restores my faith in human nature." :)