1969: A man on the moon, the amazing Mets, Nixon in the White House, Woodstock, and the year I graduated from Will Rogers High in Tulsa, Oklahoma.(Not to say my graduation was of historical significance; just establishing time and place.)
A few years ago marketers were leveraging the 40th anniversary of 1969 with special edition books, album reissues, and another movie: “Taking Woodstock: A Generation Began in His Backyard.”
Apparently those who didn’t come of age in this era have grown weary of hearing about it all; especially Woodstock.
I was not at Woodstock: the event, but was immersed in the culture of it all, in a pseudo-hippie sort of way. That is to say, I did have all that was de rigueur of the persona: tattered jeans, with their own story if I might add (made that way by hard wear, not the fictional, faux-worn jeans stacked on department store shelves these days), the beads and leather bands, even the Volkswagen Bus. However, fear and good old-fashioned Southern Baptist guilt kept me safely removed from the drugs and free love (to a large degree).
One credo of the day was, “Don’t trust anyone over 40!” Here I am at 62 and my unspoken credo is now, “Don’t trust anyone under 40!”
A word to those under 40: can you allow us geezers just a few more months of nostalgia? After all, if “they” are to be believed, Woodstock and all was my generation's “defining moment.”
I like to sail. One of the oldest and most trusted navigational methods is called dead reckoning. This is where you take what is called a fix on a known, determined location. Then using a watch and compass you can estimate where you are at any time by advancing that position.
It works great if you were correct about your original fix (or defining moment), and if you’ve reckoned your time, direction, and speed correctly.
No doubt those of us at a certain age remember those days better than they were. You will probably do the same with your wonder years. And, if I’m not misunderstanding the wisdom of Ecclesiastes, there is a danger is this exercise:
Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?” For it is not wise to ask such questions. Ecclesiastes 7:10 NIV.
So in an attempt to avoid that pitfall, but wanting to define my defining moment, here’s what the summer of ’69 did for me. I did learn to question authority (a key component of the culture), and in doing so, I worked out my own faith and worldview.
Enough reminiscing for now, because in the sage advice of the namesake of my alma mater:
"Don’t let yesterday use up too much of today." – Will Rogers