I recently saw a local production of the rock musical, Hair, which was a Broadway hit in 1968. I first saw it in the early 1970s, performed by a travelling troupe in a “Broadway at Duke” series. I liked it so much then that I bought the album, but I didn’t remember that the show was about a “tribe” of hippies whose leader, Claude, was considering burning his draft card in protest against the Vietnam war.
They use the word “love” a lot in Hair, and on this viewing, the opening song, “Aquarius” brought tears to my eyes.: “When the moon is in the seventh house, and Jupiter aligns with Mars, then peace will guide the planet, and love will steer the stars. This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius . . .”
It reminded me I have the moon in the seventh house and Jupiter aligned with Mars. I didn’t know that in the 1970s, but peace and love are guiding principles of my life, although no one would suspect it, not even me, sometimes.
At the end of Hair, the protagonist, Claude, after deciding not to burn his draft card, gets drafted, goes to Vietnam, and gets killed. I commented to friends afterwards that we have come no closer to peace and love since the 1960s and 1970s, when kids our age were so idealistic. We as a generation have become jaded. The death of our hopes may have been predicted by Claude’s death in Vietnam. But the Age of Aquarius is just beginning, and astrological ages last 2000-2500 years, so there’s still time for peace and love to evolve.
A few days later, in Barnes & Noble, I encountered a cute black man at the condiments bar. I was complaining about the hot weather. He said something about cold, and I said I prefer cold to hot. He said it’s “God’s weather.” Later I thought “How quaint,” but at the time, I replied rain and breeze are God’s weather, too.
Yes, it’s all God’s weather, even climate change. As I’ve become more attuned to the infinite and subtle variations, moment-to-moment in the “climate” of my environment, I’ve come to appreciate how useless weather predictions are. A 90-degree day can feel hotter if the sun is intense, the air humid and still, or even if there’s machine noise or mosquitoes. All increase levels of discomfort.
I avoid thinking in terms of God, but it’s convenient for encompassing ideas of totality. All-That-Is, Seth’s (of the Jane Roberts’ series) name, carries less baggage, and Westerners don’t understand the Oriental concept of qi. For me, this totality equates to the energy of universal love, pervasive love, all-inclusive love—an Aquarian concept–but “love” is another baggage-loaded term.
According to Seth, to some Native American traditions, and to the mystically inclined, the weather responds to human thought and will. In order to hone my climate-changing skills, I figure, my intent must be clear and considerate of all who are affected by it. To pray for rain, as former Georgia governor Sonny Perdue did, could cause flash floods in the mountains. To ask for weather that makes everyone more comfortable implies rain without telling “God’s weather” how to achieve it. Cloud cover, breeze, rain, nightfall—all these make everyone more comfortable.
Along these lines, I looked at a special issue of Time on “Mindfulness” and noticed this is the cover subject of National Geographic, too. There is so much attention given to this lately that I find it amusing, in a smugly cynical way. It smacks of “Agenda” from the urbanites, who are suddenly praising the benefits of office plants to relieve stress.
There were multiple references to “we all,” who feel stressed by competing demands on attention and how TV news is depressing, but “The Agenda” doesn’t suggest turning off the TV. No. Even Psychiatric News, which expresses concern about loneliness, suicide, and the overuse of social media, only calls for increased funding for treatment.
I also read some of the National Geographic issue on mindfulness. The entire issue was apparently written by some life coach type who fills it with mindfulness rules, or guidelines that structure every minute of the day, from wake-up until bed. While some of the ideas are good, the slant was one of goals and performance. The practical value of hugging (releases oxytocin, the emotion hormone, we are told), gratitude, volunteering in the community, eye contact and presence were stressed. It impressed me in one specific way when it recommended being grateful. Awareness of gratitude implies appreciating the things that go right and shifts focus away from worries and cares.
Animals are mindfulness gurus, but nothing I read mentioned that. While “The Agenda” wants to sell mindfulness through teachers, courses, methods, books, videos, and apps, I think about all the ways it can be incorporated into daily routine. Brushing teeth with the non-dominant hand comes to mind. This is reminiscent of Carlos Casteneda’s Yaqui Indian mentor, don Juan, who recommended putting on the other shoe first, to make a conscious variation in a daily habit.
Seth of the Jane Roberts series recommends bringing mind back to the body, even for just a few seconds, to generate a sense of safety. It’s a way of grounding oneself in the moment in space and time. I’ve found that sitting at stop lights can provide opportunities for taking deep breaths and consciously relaxing tight body parts. It seems driving has become more stressful over the years, with traffic heavier and more impatient. Mindfulness is watching the chickens, or the clouds, or opening my senses while shutting off thought, which is easier said than done.
I realized while reading that these authors are at least a generation younger than I am, immersed in child rearing, work and other commitments, and don’t have the luxury of laziness. But people my age and older, too, are imbued with the work ethic, which never retires. Even I have a compelling need to “be productive,” to “make good use of time,” to “accomplish.” Even when I’m lying on the lawn watching chickens, I’m “being mindful.” Mindful is an ant crawling on my arm. Mindful is anything that makes me uncomfortable.