Ending the 60s on a High

The fifties were a time of “Leave It
To Beaver” and “Father Knows Best”, the
tv shows of that era got my rapt attention.
What wonderful lives those children led.
Clean, spacious homes, no one drunk on
the floor. No screaming fights in the night,
that awakened you with fear, everything calm,
loving and understanding. I loved those
shows and I loved my books and was an
ardent reader, books sa(er)ved me well
as I escaped from my reality to theirs.

It also was the time of the Cuban Missile
Crisis and when I was in elementary
school we had drills where we were
instructed to get under our desks and
cover our heads for protection in case
of bombings. We also practiced
evacuating the school and got into cars
driven by parents who would take us off
the campus to a safe area elsewhere.
I often wonder if those drills didn’t add
anxiety to my already fear-ridden little self.

School became more difficult for me to
manage as I entered puberty and new
hormones surging meant more changes to my
already stressed life. Life seemed to frighten
me more and more as I spiraled down into
what I can only describe as an emotional break.
I felt low and bleak.
By high school and when the panic would hit,
I snuck away from school and walked home.
What was happening to me? I had no idea,
only that I was in almost unbearable pain.
Funny that home would become my refuge, but
no, that was an illusion; it really wasn’t.

I remember watching the news and seeing the
war in Vietnam happening right on the screen.
I was grateful that my oldest brother had
escaped going and was stationed in Germany.
At the end of the sixties when I was 18, and out
of high school, I got a job in a law office and felt
independent and happy making my own money.
I had a boyfriend and had sex
and we smoked weed and I felt free.
The music of the day became my religion.
The Beatles evolved along with me and
as their messages expanded so did my mind.
The Moody Blues sang of astral travel and
raising your consciousness. Crosby, Stills, Nash
& Young swept me up with their meaningful lyrics;
I flew so high. I turned on, tuned in and dropped out.

Soon a newfound spirituality became my
focus and awakened me to a profound new
consciousness that propelled me
into a life that I had never imagined for myself.

The illusions of this world became crystal clear
and I no longer perceived it as I once had.
The shift was acute and my philosophical
insight could not be denied. My short relation-
ship with marijuana was over but I remained in a
perpetual high, induced this time by a drastic
change in my awareness. I found a yoga
teacher…or had he found me? I joined a
commune and meditated and my newly structured
life took me away, far away, from my past one.
I became a vegetarian and was disciplined
and devoted to strengthening my body and mind.
Light shown where there had been darkness.

The sixties closed with me on a high note and
for that I am ever grateful. Life continues
to change and evolve with letting go, holding on
and relaxing more into the belief that all will
unfold as it should.

Bjorn and Amy Jo Sprague invite us to write in free verse and share the decades in which we grew up or have lived:  http://dversepoets.com/2015/12/17/free-to-be-free-meet-the-bar/

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40 Comments

  1. purple ash

     /  December 17, 2015

    This is fascinating! What an interesting life you’ve led.

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  2. Glenn Buttkus

     /  December 17, 2015

    Wow, like me you took a big bite, late 50’s –the 60’s, and coming to maturity when bras were burned & hippy gentleness was a striking counterpoint to the war shown daily on TV; the first one to do so; but imagine a real war covered 24/7 by our modern media; smile.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • I was one of those bra-burning types for a time, Glenn, and could relate to the whole hippie generation. I remember years later watching The Gulf War being covered on television. You could see the target being found on the ground and then, kaboom! Shocking to me.

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  3. Wow, Gayle, how I loved this story of your life….I resonated with the childhood – me, too – the expanding of our consciousness as we mercifully escaped our childhood homes and entered the world…..the music of the Beatles………one of my fave poems of yours ever.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • Thanks very much, Sherry, and glad it was one of your favorites. Sorry about the “me too” though, no fun. But we both evolved and grew in awareness…that’s what’s important.

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  4. This is a great story of how life could have been in the sixties… I think that I grew up more in the 70s and 80s that was more an aftermath of the explosive 60s… but some things like the Vietnam permeated also my youth.. then there was Chile … and the ripples of cold war… I think we all have to be happy that we grew up and matured…

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    • Yes, we all should be happy if we grew and matured. Sometimes though, in spite of my growth, it’s still hard for me to process some of the not so happy times of growing up. Thanks, Bjorn.

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  5. What a personal journey you have had Gayle ~ I admire your transformation into a more spiritual and wiser woman, full of gratitude, love and hope ~ So lovely to have known more of you ~

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  6. Such a moving write.. 😀 I enjoyed knowing more about your experiences in life.
    Beautifully penned.

    Lots of love,
    Sanaa

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  7. Hi Gayle, I enjoyed the glimpse into your 50’s and 60’s. It makes me think that, in retrospect, many of us can look back at our earlier life experiences and see that even though there were difficult times we LEARNED something from them (that perhaps we didn’t even know we were learning) & somehow they helped us into the person we are today. I am glad the 60’s ended for you on a very positive note. Some, I know, were not so lucky. Do have a Merry Christmas.

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    • That’s definitely the key, Mary, whether or not we learned anything. I learned a lot and have a better grasp of the bigger picture now. Back then, it was hard being in the middle of childhood and not having much understanding. And how right you are, many were not so lucky. Merry Christmas to you, Mary. xo

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  8. The conversational tone is refreshing. Finding spirituality heals many traumas.

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  9. So many little ones look back/go through those difficult childhoods. And, yes, that is where fear is born. I honor your story, your survival, your spiritual orientation when it would have been so easy to choose a totally different path. I think of the horrible fear kids today must know. I went to church on Wed. and it was the school kids Mass. At the end the pastor asked us not to be late when we come to a children’s Mass because they will be locking the doors for security purposes. How sad.

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    • I appreciate your honoring of my story, Victoria, thank you. I consider it a miracle of sorts that none of my siblings or myself ended up on drugs or traveling down some other terrible path. Oh, that really comes as a cold shock when the pastor says the doors will be locked for security. What a terrible shame, and yes, children are growing up with a lot more fear these days. I just keep wondering how low are we going to sink?

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  10. Honestly, this could be about me. You’ve brought back so many memories of a very intense time!

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  11. You’ve painted a picture of the times we lived in, and was so similar to my experiences. I do remember the Cuban Missile Crisis…everyone being afraid of what would happen. One of my fears at the time, was the date my library card expired on. I was afraid I wouldn’t live to that date on there, so I could get a new card. Funny the things that we think of. Thanks for sharing a part of your life, Gayle.

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    • You poor dear, being afraid that you wouldn’t live to renew your library card. It is funny what will go through our minds. I’m glad I could share some similar experiences with you, Barbara, and thanks for sharing with me too.

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  12. Thank you Gayle, for this glimpse into your life. I do remember the 50s and 60s well….black and white tv in a huge big “blonde” box that sat on the floor and the tv man came to make repairs, with his complicated many layered “tool box” that held all these strange tubes. He’d sit in the back of the set and fiddle with tubes and hold a long mirror out so he could see what was happening on the screen while he worked. Forefunner of the “selfie stick?”
    Roy Rogers, the Lone Ranger, Elvis and the Beatles….bombings and Viet Nam….a protest at Chicago’s Democratic Convention….Lyndon Johnson on the tv screen “I will not run again.” So many memories…….and we evolved furing this time. Your evolution….thank you for sharing.

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    • So glad I could share something of myself, Lillian, and I appreciate your comment here. Yeah, those old TV’s were something else. I loved the same shows that you did and saw much of what you did on the war and politics–and don’t forget the moon landing! I think it truly was a unique time of accelerated evolution in so many ways.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  13. We are the same age. This was like reading my own history. Nicely done, Gayle.

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  14. So many of us grew up through that time and too many died. But those of us who survived, I hope some of us actually learned from the experiences and have passed that knowledge on. I think that was also when I learned inside, it is better to be spiritually sound and based than just knowledge based religious. The spiritual part does indeed heal us of so many things. We can’t stay angry and expect peace in our world or heart. Wonderful poem Gayle. I so truly enjoyed this and respected all contained in it.

    Like

    Reply
    • You’re so right, Toni. We can’t harbor anger and expect peace in return. Our way out of the dark begins with ourselves. That’s what I’m concentrating on these days…not the news. I appreciate your generous and wise words…thank you.

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      Reply
  15. i suppose the invention
    of the PILL is a major
    precipitating force
    of 60’s change
    as i look back
    on how much events did
    change.. TV still censored
    but real life coming free..
    in so many ways.. escaping
    human shelters away WITH
    fuller freedoms as
    as well.. but yes..
    the 70’s.. ending
    of the Vietnam
    war and the
    disco explosion
    still dances in me.. as teen..
    smiles.. and thanks for sharing..:)

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  16. Wonderful trip down memory lane. No time in life is free from strife and every time in life has it’s soft and tender moments, too. ❤

    Like

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