A child of the 60s, a younger brother in the baby boom family of several million, I was born in 1952. I became politically aware after the 1968 Democratic convention. I was driven more by the desire for social change than political revolution, though of course, the two were allied. Hippiedom seemed divided into political revolution, social transformation and drug use streams. One could easily ally with one of the three and not the others. Some allied with two or three of these social currents. The younger the hippie, the more likely only drugs were the center of the orientation. This effect seems related to the draft becoming less threatening over time.

A colleague organizer mentioned last night the experience many of us had in the 1960s that revolution was just about to happen. For Joe, it was the sense that the political process was about to change. My experience was that social structure was transforming. The feeling of imminence was encouraged by most of us political and social change advocates spending no small amount of time in altered states characterized by revelatory experiences in the now focused on the nature of now. Castaneda’s “crack between the worlds” was opening up for millions of young people. We just assumed that society would follow us in. We could feel it happening to us.

We were right. Only it would be our children and grandchildren that would lead the way. Revelation is like that. Revelation can be right on, experiencing the connections, articulating the insight and be off by decades in terms of timing.

For me, social change, political change and personal transformation were/are integrally connected. An underlying tie between the social, political and the personal was the fear and anxiety that were characteristic of a large part of my experience and the division of the world between two nuclear polarities. There were ways that I did not differentiate between my fear of nuclear annihilation and my fears of personal annihilation. I often felt threatened. I maintained a brutally critical internal dialog. I desperately sought solace and loathed that I was so insecure. I felt split. The world felt split.

In the summer of 1988, I was driving from Champaign Urbana across to Normal, Illinois. Every six weeks I drove a great circle, leaving Chicago and heading south in the morning, looping west through mid-state cities and then back up through southwest suburbs, visiting five Carson Pirie Scott locations in one day, conducting inventories of The Far Side greeting cards and the products of other companies I represented. I loved the driving. Not so much the inventories.

Cruising down the interstate early on a balmy August afternoon, I had a sky that was sprinkled with medium-sized, puffy clouds rolling above fields filled with cylindrical hay bales from the harvest. A local NPR affiliate was airing information regarding Gorbachev’s verbal overtures to the West. The anchor’s intonations revealed our government’s suspicions. I heard something deep between the lines. Like a lightning strike, the crack between the worlds opened up down the middle of the interstate.

Tears were rolling down my cheeks. We’d made it. There would be peace soon. The end of the Cold War was beginning. World peace would be occurring in my lifetime. These things felt true.

Then I noticed the rainbows in the clouds. The west-headed highway unfolded before me between north and south banks of rainbows cascading down the sides of clouds. Like waterfalls, the rainbow streams were following the contours of the cloud sides until they spilled off of the white billows into the sky. Rainbows tumbled across the firmament, heading downhill toward the river of the road.

I was aware I was having a spiritual revelation seeded by the perception of a political transformation. I was aware that I was having a visionary experience during the visionary experience. No stranger to how visionary experiences evidence themselves in different cultures, eras and contexts, I was fascinated by my having such an experience. And so I reveled in the vision, the insight that world peace would occur in my lifetime, while observing the experience with a second layer of revelation that the specifics of the revelation were not necessarily true. Truth was in the experience of feeling part of something larger than myself, not in the accompanying insights or words. All else was interpretation. I was particularly aware of Black Elk’s late 1800’s revelations of massive social transformation that seemed to have never occurred.

So, I was experiencing revelation accompanied by a vision, accompanied by a revelation that truth is relative.

Arriving in the Carson Pirie Scott parking lot a half hour later, I could see remnants of the rainbows lingering in the sky. I got out of my car and observed a woman approach her car. I struggled to ask her if she saw the rainbows. I did not ask.

I stored the experience, deciding to come to no conclusions. Later, I discovered that I was living my life “as if” there would be world peace in my lifetime. Whether I was right or not seemed less important than having had the experience of feeling loved.

We experience love in ways similar to the way we express it. We interpret the love that we experience from the other side of the crack in a fashion that fits the way we express love in this world. Everything is relative, including our experience of god.

In the 1960s, political and social change seemed imminent. Clearly, we misinterpreted our experience as the 1970s transformed into the 1980s and Reaganism seemed almost universally embraced. The 1960s was nothing less than a revelatory epoch with insights unprecedented in their universality and depth. The timing was off. Our interpretation mechanisms required some seasoning, some maturing.

As I’m observing changes cascading through society today, riding the rainbow rapids of transformation, it feels to me like we live in days of revelation. I can’t help but see and hear the revolution we felt imminent forty years ago. Except now I understand it as evolution.

The changes were happening all the time.


Comments

This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 12th, 2008 at 8:00 am and is filed under 10-Unconscious, Auto-Biography, Unconscious. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
3 Comments so far

  1. Robert M. katzman on November 12, 2008 2:20 pm

    Being twenty months or so older than you are, and therefore far more experienced in the ways of the world, Andrew, I think you short-circuit yourself.
    I know about that frustrating phenomena because I did that to myself as well, ending some time ago.
    Being in the moment, conscious of the intensity of the sensations you are experiencing, yet maintaining a distance, in control, always in control. Ecstasy was a bit too far to go, for me.
    The unwilliness to surrender to the moment, not be a witness to it, but a child of it, cost me the fullness of the experience.
    Living a life of: This far, but no farther” in terms of pleasure, exposed emotion, willingness to express anger with no reservation,…..all that slowing down and surpressing gave me a life on hold. I paid either way.
    I felt that sense of deja vu when I read your new piece, which while excellent and revealing, made me feel you are doing to yourself, what I did to myself, living a simmerinmg life.
    You may see my “insite” as being so far off base as to be on Neptune, but I think it’s likely to be true.
    I, to a degree that a person relentlessly, if involuntarily fighting to remain in control can, no longer deny myself life’s strong arcs of emotion.
    If I am wrong, Andrew, then good for you. but if I’m somewhere near a truth, maybe you’ll write about it. That would be interesting, too.

    I liked this article very much.

    Bob Katzman

  2. AL Leonidas on November 19, 2008 10:36 am

    I read your blog with great interest. I came about neoteny upon reading the work Kathryn D. Cramer, Ph.d., Roads Home, Seven Pathways to Midlife Wisdom.
    I quoted a portion of the said book on a comment by Ashley Montaguo on neoteny.
    I am using the concept to draw participants in my Magic for Beginners training seminar. Am a teacher in sociology and does magic shows here in the Philippines.

  3. Don’t Know Mind | Neoteny, sexual selection, cause of autism, human evolution, social transformation, left organizing and internet activism - how they all connect on October 9, 2009 7:41 am

    […] the first experience, I was also on an expressway, driving in the afternoon.  I was passing from Champaign Urbana to […]

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