How to Start a Revolution in the Second Half of Life
The Hippie Experiment: 5 Steps to a New You
You say you wanna revolution, right?
Well, break out the hip-huggers and put some flowers in your hair, because the the times they are a-changing, my friends, and you’re about to harness your inner hippie in search of a new you.
Yes, the lava lamps are on, and there’s revolution in the air.
One thing is for certain, finding purpose and adventure doesn’t happen by accident. It takes a revolution—unrest, uprising, and radical change. And for the love of Joni Mitchell, can you think of a better time for a revolution than when you’re in the second half of life? Oh sure, anyone can be rebellious at 18, what with raging hormones and nagging parents. Questioning the world when you’re young is what you’re supposed to do.
But, to become a revolutionary at 50, 70, or 90, well that’s a whole other ball of inspiring radicalism, which is why Oxygen Buzz salutes all those patchouli wearing men and women who never stop wanting to change the world, or be part of something larger than themselves.
Better yet, we honor them all with our own Hippie Experiment: 5 Steps to a New You.
(For the record, I was five years old when Bob Dylan was telling the world that “the times are a-changing.” My hippie look revolved around bell bottoms and a Hang-Ten shirt. And while I would have loved to have grown my hair long, my hair only grew out. I looked more like Peter Brady than John Lennon. And I could have never done the barefoot thing…I don’t like lint between my toes).
Of course, this experiment isn’t really about going barefoot or putting flowers in your hair. It’s about turning age into art, which is slapping convention in the face, and who better to guide us than the hippie of yesterday and today?
So, how do you become a hippie and start a revolution that will change your life? Well, in the words of Jack Kerouac, you open an Excel sheet and make a list.
The Hippie Experiment: 5 Steps to a New You
Step 1: Question Authority
We used to do it all the time. Who knows why we stopped? My guess is we didn’t even know we were stopping. It became easier to blend in and begin living our lives like everyone else on the conveyor belt. But now that we’re awakening to change, it’s time to go back to those days of adolescence and begin questioning everything. We can start with authority. Then old truths. And worn out tapes we play in our heads. Belief systems. Religions. Politicians. The status quo. And you may be rightfully skeptical. “I don’t want to abandon what I believe.”
Don’t. You can still question your beliefs, just turn them over and check for a pulse. Your old thought patterns could be dead without you even knowing. And who knows, maybe you’ll end up thinking differently. Or perhaps it will simply make your beliefs stronger. What matters is that you stand in your truth, instead of merely adopting what has been passed down to you, with or without your consent. Own your truth like a real hippie.
Step 2: Take Up a Cause (Start with Ageism)
There’s more to being a hippie than peace beads and free love. There’s having a cause worth fighting for. It doesn’t matter what that cause is, only that it’s close to your heart. Women’s rights or children’s rights. Domestic abuse or animal abuse. Clean water. Poverty. Hunger. Literacy. Wildlife conservation. Fight for what matters to you and do what you can to make a difference, however small that difference may be.
And while you’re at it, take up the fight against ageism.
It’s an important fight and one that will leave a legacy for those who follow in our footsteps. And you can start by buying yourself a copy of Ashton Applewhite’s book, This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism. It’s an incredible book. You may or may not have heard of Ashton, but she is a crusading advocate and thought leader in the fight against ageism. Check out her site here.
Her book is a well-researched, sobering, yet hopeful look at what it means to get older, as well as an empowering push to celebrate the beauty and simplicity of getting older. As she says, “the book is a call to wake up to the ageism in and around us, to embrace a more nuanced and accurate view of growing older.” But let’s be clear, her message to challenge age-based prejudices in ourselves and society is clearly a call to arms. She wants you to stand up and do something. To live differently. She’s almost militant, but it is a militancy softened by love and conviction. She owns her beliefs about aging, and she isn’t afraid to walk her talk. You’re going to love my new friend (yes, we’re friends…at least in my mind). She’s an inspiration for us all.
Step 3: Hallucinate More
Don’t worry. You don’t need peyote and mushrooms. You can spin around fifty times and throw yourself in a closet with a little Grateful Dead. Better yet, find your own way to seek other states of consciousness. Meditate. Fast. Pray. Open up your chakras. Discover your third eye. Try silent retreats. Flotation tanks. Buy a book on lucid dreaming. Keep a dream journal. There is no one way or even a wrong way. And if all this is too woo-woo and new age for you, then find a way to make it less woo-woo. The idea is to see life through a heightened sense of awareness—to explore the inner fabric of your world. To make life come alive.
Step 4: Dress Like a Hippie (or at least put a little color in your life)
I just read an article on what men and women past 50 should and shouldn’t wear. For the record, strappy accessories, miniskirts, Juicy sweatpants, and gold chains with names on them are all big no-nos. And there was also some mention that women shouldn’t wear ponytails anymore, and men should avoid an abundance of bracelets. Now, you may or may not agree with that, but the point is, who gets to decide at what age something is or is not appropriate (see Step 1)? The truth is, you get to decide. Wear what makes you happy and feels like magic. And regardless of where you work, there’s always a way to kick up your game. It’s why weekends were invented.
So, give up khaki-safe and go lime-bold if you want to, and Bruce Springsteen isn’t the only one who gets to wear 20 bracelets on his wrists. You can too. And if you want to wear your hair in ponytails, wear it in ponytails. Grow it long or shave it, dye it or don’t dye it. Do and wear what makes you feel comfortable and expresses your individuality. And most importantly, wear it all with confidence, because nothing is more attractive than that. Remember, a good hippy doesn’t give a shit.
Step 5: Go to Woodstock
I would have liked to have gone to Woodstock. To be part of history, and to feel a change in the air, without even knowing what that change was all about. Of course, with my current bladder and a weak immune system, I would now have to catch it on Pay-Per-View.
Just the same, I still want my own version of Woodstock. I think we all deserve it—to feel like we are part of a revolution, with a common purpose, a sense of community, togetherness, music, and life.
But Woodstock won’t come to us. We have to get in the van and go chase it for ourselves. In fact, you could say that going to Woodstock is what the Oxygen Buzz mission is all about—getting in the van with a shared community in search of something uncommon and magical.
Ours is a revolution to find meaning and purpose and to become fully engaged with life in whatever way we can, with whatever we have.
That’s about as fine a revolution as we can imagine. Of course, we aren’t exactly sure how this will happen. But, that’s okay.
Finding out is part of the revolution.
And who knows, if we stay uncompromising in our journey, maybe the generations that follow us will look at our revolution and begin to view getting older as not something to dread or fear, but something to embrace and welcome.
Maybe they’ll look at our revolution and say, “count me in.”
That’s a revolution worth fighting for.
If you haven't joined the revolution at Oxygen Buzz…now is the time.
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Theodore Roszak referred to the 60s Hippie movement as a segment of the “Counter Culture.” He provides an astute analysis of the late 60s in two of his books: “The Making of a Counter Culture: Reflections on the Technocratic Society & Its Youthful Opposition,” published in 1969, and then 40 years later in a reexamination of the baby boom generation’s Hippie, grown-up offshoot in “The Making of an Elder Culture: Reflections on the Future of America’s Most Audacious Generation.”
In Counter Culture, Roszak explained that “however lacking older radicals (Beat Geners) may find the Hippies in authenticity or revolutionary potential, they have clearly succeeded in embodying radical disaffiliation – what Herbert Marcuse has called the Great Refusal – in the form that captures the need of the young for unrestricted joy.” Marcuse was a German-born American philosopher who was a professor at Columbia, Harvard, Brandeis, and UC San Diego. His most popular work was published in 1964, titled One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society. He argued that aristocrats cultivated the growth of a meaningless consumer-oriented society that was both intellectually and spiritually poor. Such notions attracted student radicals of the 60s and their left-leaning activism, including the antiwar movement.
“Radical disaffiliation” in protest of a status-quo population of Hippie-hating, conservative “squares” who promoted soulless hard work and over-consumerism fit logically and safely within my way of thinking as a young teenager and still does today.
George! You are now Oxygen Buzz’s official counter-culture expert and resident hippie guru. I feel so much smarter after reading your post! Thanks for sharing.
I’m honored 🙂 Here’s another tidbit (I’m just copying from some of my older posts on this topic):
This is from reading Bill Thomas’s book, “Second Wind: Navigating the Passage to a Slower, Deeper, and More Connected Life,” published by Simon & Schuster in 2014.
Here’s how Thomas defines three generational identifiers, – Squares, Hippies & Activists – which he labels as “early adult subcultures,” and “the primary colors that defined the postwar generation’s passage out of childhood”:
In the 60s and 70s, Squares were everything Hippies were not. “While others (i.e. Hippies) tested the outer limits of art, music, and fashion, Squares were content to stay well inside established norms,” Thomas wrote. He added that Squares “were the people who knew how to make the world work. Clarity of purpose and responsibility were more than just ideals. These young men and women did their jobs, they went to war, they went to school, largely without complaint.”
Hippies, on the other hand, were what Timothy Leary defined as “persons whose lives are tuned in to their inner vision, who are dropping out of the TV comedy of American Life,” Thomas explained, adding that Hippies embodied a rejection of the “responsible, capable adulthood,” so “immutable” to the Squares.
Activists were in the middle, “suspended between the fervent idealism [of the Hippies] and a genuine grown-up taste for opportunity and success [of the Squares].” Activists were, and still are, ambitious folks unafraid to display their opinions. “They were eager to take power and to set aside conversational approaches to organizing in favor of inflammatory rhetoric and dramatic action,” Thomas described.
Which are you?
George, I’m going to have to start taking out my dictionary when you write. I’m also going to start quoting you…you’ll make me sound a whole lot smarter.
Thanks for summing up this article beautifully!
YES!!! Count me in!!! Another brilliant post, which I’ll be sharing with my second half of life circles (AND with my first half of life circles so that they’ll know not to mess with us). Thank for a delightful boost of inspiration to start my day.
Thanks for sharing Martha! Of course we all know you’ve “counted yourself in” a long time ago. You’re the real inspiration!
Whew! So happy I get to keep my ponytail! I always look forward to receiving your message.
Thank you for another insightful and inspiring post Bill!
You can keep your ponytail…and even wear pigtails! But please send photos when you do!
I needed this! Just rounded the corner of fifty a month ago, and this is encouraging and soul shaking. I have no plans to go gentle into that good night. I am rocking my way out of here, and I’m not going to be doing that in a chair.
“I’m rocking my way out here, and I’m not going to be doing that in a chair.” Beautiful. You should come write for us. Or at least add the spirit of the revolution to your own site, which by the way, is incredible. I can hardly wait to continue reading. I’m a fan …https://livenowandzen.com/
Important book, right up our alley “Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life” – Dr. James Hollis
You’ll be astounded.
Thanks for the recommendation, Janice. And on your recommendation…I’ve just ordered it. Ready to be astounded.
How in the world do you come up with so much good stuff. You are such a good writer. I’m always waiting for the next “one” from you.
The one who knows you the best!!!
Let’s just say you started the whole revolution, for which I will be forever grateful.