Putting the “Hip” in Hippie

Pity the poor flower child who, in August, 1969, decided to take a little jaunt up to Bethel, New York, to join in something called the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival.  After loading a few friends in his car he set out, fully expecting a leisurely drive to Yasgur’s Farm, where he would pull into a parking lot next to the concert stage.  Instead, when our worthy young friend took the exit onto Route 17b, in Monticello, New York, he came face-to-face with a world-class traffic jam … everything headed toward Woodstock was completely stopped, with abandoned cars as far as the eye could see.  

Very quickly, two things became clear.  First, if this fellow was going to partake of any peace, love  and music over the next few days, he was going to have to walk.  Second, the distance from Monticello, New York, to Yasgur’s Farm is eleven miles.  And, if you are keeping score, that is eleven “country miles.”

For those in attendance at the original Woodstock Festival, having to trudge long distances amidst hordes of unwashed strangers likely qualifies as part of the experience … the “charm” … of the event.  And when you are young and caught up in the moment, well, the prospect of walking eleven miles was not a big deal.  But that was fifty years ago … how many of us would be up for that sort of a forced march today?

Let’s face it … the body of an aging hippie has endured a lot over the years.  Remember those long rides crammed in the back seat of somebody’s VW Beetle with three other folks?  Or those afternoons sitting in the lotus position while absorbing cosmic truths from Moonbeam and Zephyr?  Some of those memories may have faded (marijuana is reported to have that effect), but your hips and knees remember what you put them through and, lately, they have been demanding attention.

In the process of getting older, a number of those who sat for three days in the mud at Woodstock have likely already sought relief through the installation of a new hip.  If so, it may be time to form an organization called HIGH (Hips In Geriatric Hippies) to let others know how much that surgery improves quality of life.  Like, for example, being able to walk – pain free – round that meditation labyrinth in the backyard.  And for that dyed-in-the-wool hippie who has kept a list of the myriad of substances he put in his body over the years, a new hip provides one more … titanium!

As an aside, many of us likely remember the good old days when the words “joint replacement” had nothing to do with hips and knees.  Back then, that term simply meant you had to light up another doobie because the one you passed to your left around the campfire never made it back.

In 1985, the Bellamy Brothers released their classic work “Old Hippie,” in which they sing of a fellow clinging to his 60’s lifestyle as he cultivates “a little garden in the backyard by the fence.”  The good news is that a hip replacement frees us up to get back to tending that private crop we have so carefully nurtured over the years.

Because, goodness knows, these days we all need something to help take the edge off.

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