Reclaiming ‘Hippie’: The Taboo of Positive Living

It seems like the more I make positive changes to my life the more I get called a hippie. Granted this is usually by friends and it might be in jest but nonetheless it points to an interesting phenomenon. The term hippie, as used today, seems to be a derogatory word, and even when it is used jokingly I think it reflects something important – that is, mainstream society’s indifference or perhaps even contempt for values that are not about doing whatever is normally done, whether or not it is good for you the individual, or the planet.

Most recently I’ve started making nut and seed milk. Yes okay, I can hear the cries of ‘hippie!’ starting already. Why? I think it’s probably not that great for a cow’s welfare to be forcibly milked all the time, at least I know I wouldn’t like it; nut milk is healthier for me too; it’s not much more hassle than going to the shop; it’s no more expensive than normal milk; it gets me closer to my food and it tastes amazing. What’s not to like?

Yet this is precisely the type of activity that is ripe for the mockery of the hippie tag, as is my thrice weekly yoga practice, healthy eating, daily meditation, interest in entheogens and probably a load of other stuff. It’s as if doing anything positive is socially unacceptable. How weird is that?! These are all really good activities, good for cows, good for my mind and good for my body, yet on hearing about them people choose to poke fun. I’m really interested in what’s going on here.

It’s not that I want to ban humour, and I’ve used the H word myself so I’m really not complaining, it’s more I’d like to point out that if we look behind this seemingly innocent jesting, we see that it conceals the way we have been conditioned to discount the value of things which are not ‘normal’, with normal meaning activities and habits that we have been conditioned to unconsciously believe are the right thing to do.

I’m thinking of the overconsumption of alcohol, the implicit support of large scale animal torture and murder, the mindless consumption of crappy TV, and addiction to food that will kill you to name a few. Most people mindlessly engage in these destructive behaviours without a thought and thus implicitly endorse all that they stand for. We all do it (even hippies), to a greater or lesser degree.

Of course there are exceptions but I find that often when someone uses ‘hippie’, even in humour, it indicates a tendency not to question the way things are, and an adherence to the conventional version of what’s right. Strangely they neglect the value of activities concerned with living as positively as possible. What is it about our culture that means we find the activities that are best for us strange and unappealing?

If people insist on using it then in response I’d like to redefine and reclaim the word hippie. No longer must we associate the term with outdated connotations of unwashed, long haired drop-outs. I’m proud to be called a hippie because to me what it stands for now is to be freethinking, to have the perception to avoid cultural brainwashing, the depth to always ask questions and the ability to step outside of the consensus trance.

It means never giving up and settling for things the way they are now, and always believing there is a better way to live. It means compassion for animals, concern for the environment and a faith in the potential inherent in humans and life. I don’t care if anyone thinks I sound like a hippie, to me it’s just the right way to live.

Never Play Your Favourite Music to the One You Love

One of life’s greatest pleasures has to be playing your favourite songs or band really loud and losing yourself in the transcendental ecstasy of that most moving and divine creative expression – music.

A word of advice though. Never, I repeat never, ever – no matter how tempting it may seem to share that most cherished treasure – play your favourite music to the one you love. It may seem to make sense at the time – starstruck lovers do love to gaze zombie-like in to each others eyes and share ‘stuff’ after all, but if you plan on continuing to enjoy your favourite band long after your relationship, don’t.

Take me for example. I have long loved Sparklehorse. There’s no one quite like them – not so many people know them, and the music touches the core of my soul, offering hope and redemption, letting me know I’m not alone, and lifting my spirits in equal measure.

Or at least it used to. That was until in a wet mushy episode of that most dangerous pathology – love – I decided it would be a good idea to share them with my then girlfriend. She loved them and before I knew it Sparklehorse had become the soundtrack to our relationship. This in itself was not a problem, in fact the new romantic backdrop to the music seemed to imbue it with even more meaning and profundity. Then she became my ex-girlfriend.

I haven’t actually listened to Sparklehorse since then, and I have no plans to any time soon either. The very thought is not even appealing. What’s worse than having a relationship end is the loss of my favourite band. Lost that is, to the associations that now so deeply penetrate every note, word and riff.

Take heed, fellow traveller, listen to my advice. Do not fall foul of that thought which tells you things will last forever. If you plan on maintaining a healthy relationship with the music that you love, never, ever play it to the one you love.

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