The kind you’re born with, the kind you choose, the kind that teach Catholic school
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The New Age — what is it, anyway? Another fad? A hustle? In a society so given to instant enlightenment and the quick buck, slogans like this, especially when they’re used to sell everything from shampoo to magazines, are as suspect as Guru Maharaji in his silver Maserati. If Nixon, talking about democracy, made one weep for America, what tears are left for God after enduring all the gassy profundities and bogus compassion of a new generation of spiritual aristocrats? When the unutterable becomes the meat of conversation, the impulse is to chase everyone from the room, the conscientious seekers as well as those just along for the ride.
For years, I spent an hour every morning with The New York Times. It wasn’t that different from repeating a mantra or concentrating on the breath. Stories, like thoughts, would come and go; in time, it dawned on me that “objectivity” was pure myth, since no two people, journalists included, see the same event in the same way.
To begin with, I don’t believe in alternate life styles. Having lived communally, having been married, having lived alone, it all comes down to the same thing: you live, ultimately, with yourself. If you’re not your own best friend, no one else can be. You can fuck a stranger and call it love. You can build walls around you and call it community.
We’re unsure whether to go. “I don’t want to hear about how we haven’t got much time left,” I lament. Earlier, I had asked Pete about it. “Survival,” he scoffed. “I went through that five years ago. You know, a lot of them talk about ecology, it’s fashionable, but underneath . . . ” He waves his hand. “I don’t even go into Chapel Hill anymore. I feel better with the grits here in Carrboro. I can’t explain it. It feels different.”
I remember my visit last November to The Farm in Summertown, Tennessee. This is the Stephen Gaskin commune. Until three years ago, Stephen, a former college teacher, was mostly known for the weekly sermons he gave in San Francisco, known as “Monday Night Class.” He spoke the language of many young people who have turned away from the soft, delightful comforts of their fathers, in their search for a different lifestyle, and attracted a large following.
Some of them moved east with him, to The Farm, located about 50 miles south of Nashville. More than 700 men, women, and children live there now.
More jobs in the last year than I can remember, and so little sense, through it all, of any purposeful endeavor, of meaningful labor, of real work.