And the time will come when you see
we’re all one, and life flows on
within you and without you.
Posts Tagged ‘ann arbor’
The story picks up in November 1970 almost halfway through three years of high school, still recovering from having jilted my first girlfriend (and being too shy to even face her after that), and Smokey Robinson part of my current Greek chorus on the AM radio with his “Tears of a Clown”…
Now if there’s a smile on my face
It’s only there trying to fool the public
But when it comes down to fooling you
Now honey that’s quite a different subject
But don’t let my glad expression
Give you the wrong impression
It reminded me that the persona I was putting out in the world was still mostly smoke and mirrors as well. That admitted, my Junior Light Opera youth theater group was opening up a new world of possibilities for me to define myself as a talented technician rather than just a lovelorn loser.
Just a quick note before we get into this segment… I’ve changed all the names of my friends to protect their privacy.
I returned from my summer in England just a week before school was to start for my junior year of high school, having missed my normal summer activities and been disconnected from my neighborhood friends for those ten weeks I had been gone, but also having undergone a personal transformation from my summer odyssey. I was still a shy kid, but I had a heightened sense of agency from partnering with my mom on our summer adventure in England. I was ready in this school year ahead to play a more active role charting my own course rather than just going with the flow of my school classes and current neighborhood social circle.
Continuing from part one, this is part two in my attempt to recollect and record in writing my high school years which were so significant to me developmentally, not so much because of what I did in class, but what I did in my life beyond the schoolroom.
Pioneer high school was a big public high school with over 2000 students, one of two at the time in Ann Arbor, located on the southwest side of town about a mile and a half from my house. It was a sprawling building on an even bigger campus of lawn and parking lots looking more like a high-tech business campus than a typical high school. When I first entered to register for classes the week before school started the main hallway was broad and institutional with what I remember to be a polished formica or marble-like floor, nothing to give the place a sense of a human scale. The school was a string of buildings connected in an L-shape, maybe at least a quarter of a mile from one end to the other.
Oh say can you see
My eyes if you can
Then my hair’s too short
The iconic Woodstock music festival, which I knew nothing about at the time, was happening in upstate New York that August, the climactic event in what some would later call the “summer of love”. But the musical Hair at least made me familiar with that counterculture that was emerging with its “flower children” driven by a mantra of “peace, love, joy” facilitated by “sex, drugs and rock-n-roll” which allowed you to “tune in, turn on and drop out”.
In 1977 and 1978, as a young adult now living on my own in my hometown of Ann Arbor (my mom and dad had remarried each other and she had moved down to Ohio to live with him), I was somehow able to live almost completely in the moment, aided by the transcending joy I found walking from place to place in town. After twenty plus years of navigating these streets on foot, by bicycle or by car, I knew them so well I could head out towards my destination of the moment, let my mind totally drift with any thought so at times I barely knew exactly where I was but still managed to get where I was going, experiencing the joys of all four full seasons and continuing my exploration of the magical side to life. (more…)
Reading Ray Bradbury’s book paved the way for my own encounter with, and embrace of, the magical side of life, while still not believing in god. I think I read the book over forty years ago in junior high English class, and I can hardly recall any of the details of the story, but no book I’ve read has had more impact on my life. It’s one of those cases where you encounter an idea that does not seem to impact you immediately, but seeds a thought in your mind that maybe comes to fruition at some later time, when that idea addresses a new need.
I think as a child I lived in a world of constant magic, creativity and imagination, so acknowledging a magical side of life was not an issue… there was just life and it was what it was… and for me that included being magical. Now looking back, I acknowledge the context of circumstances, the privilege of being a white male growing up in a progressive, middle-class community in America. I also acknowledge the proactive effort of my parents to raise me “outside the box” and dedicate time and money (given their modest means) to create an enriched environment for me to bloom within and explore life’s enchantment. (more…)