When my book Living on the Earth was first published in 1970, I was twenty years old, living on an open land commune in northern California in a shack built of recycled materials, dividing my time between weeding the community garden, hiking, doing yoga, practicing guitar and singing, celebrating whatever day it was with my friends, and making beautiful things out of clothes from the free box. My book conveys those free and easy days, and became a window through which people trapped in stressful urban lives could fly and dream.
Now I’m the person looking through the window and dreaming. I just turned fifty-seven, and I have a strong spiritual commitment to doing what is right by my own estimation, which, in this case, is caring for my aged mother in her home in Los Angeles. Here I am in the town I thought I had left forever at seventeen, with the woman who made my life hell until I stuck out my thumb and boogied on up Highway 1 to San Francisco in 1966.
I am cool, though. I walk a lot, practice music, write my blog, do spiritual practices, learn everything I can about elder care, work on my communication skills, work on my creative projects, work at my business as art entrepreneur. I have some wonderful friends and family in LA, some I’ve known since I could know someone. They love me and make this work.
I dream about how I will live after this is over: In a sustainably built off-grid home, in a permaculture gardening and natural farming, with pollution-free transportation, in an intentional community with other artists, musicians, writers, healers, earth stewards, and visionaries whose visions resonate with mine.
Meanwhile, I hunt for cheap gasoline, and wring my hands at the wastefulness of modern society. Happily, my mom’s a leftie, too, and she wrings her hands along with me.