Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Turn on, tune in, drop out

I was too young to hear Timothy Leary's rallying call  "Turn on, tune in, drop out." I was born at the tail end of the baby boom, and my experience of the hippy period was bell bottoms and a t-shirt with the two finger peace sign imposed on an American Flag. I was too tall for platform shoes.But I had the afro hair.

Like most of my cohort I envied hippies. Who wouldn't?  Sex drugs and rock & roll. So it is with some feeling of loss when I see that some of those who turned on, tuned in, and dropped out are now looking for another meaning to their life while shopping for cheap incontinence pads at Walmart.

As with most of the tail-end baby boomers, I ignored that period. Oh I  loved the music, but not much else. Could never get into the literature of the time; the Jack Kerouac, Robert A. Heinlein, Ken Kesey, Tom Wolfe, Marvin Harris, Truman Capote. Too anarchic and unstructured. But on the other hand I loved the storytelling of John Updike, Harper Lee, Anthony Burgess, Ken Kesey, Nikolas Schreck, Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez, Frank Herbert,  Sylvia Plath, and Kurt Vonnegut (Vonnegut mainly because he was American, I loved everything American.) I loved reading Hermann Hesse, a German author who did much of his writing in the 1920s but was read in the 60s.

So wind forward half a century and that mantra still haunts me."Turn on, tune in, drop out" Until this year. I never understood the existential meaning of that phrase. Now with the National Security Agency not only spying on everything we do both in the privacy of our emails, phone calls and letters, but also everything online, and then sharing this information with other alien countries, I have a strong feeling that we need to re-energize the mantra again. Except this time lets make it digital "Turn on, tune in, drop out." Turn on, make sure that you know what is happening, tune into the movement with like minded individuals, and drop out of Facebook, Twitter. LinkedIn and blogger....


I am in a boutique hotel on the mediterranean coast in Southern Turkey in the old Walled City of Antalya. Alone in the courtyard of the hotel. Three in the morning, I cannot sleep. The only place I can get internet. The courtyard is within an old building in the old city. Narrow paved windy roads fenced in by exclusive hotels developed from old rich properties. The night revelry still lingering outside (which is why I am awake.) But I am in a quiet bubble inside this cocoon. Surrounding me are feral cats. They own the city and they are everywhere. Well-fed it seems. Sometimes meeoing, but mostly quiet and observant. We are alike in many respects. Well-fed definitely her in Turkey.
Two blazoned tanned older men in their underwear. Their stomach hanging proud come into the courtyard smoking and talking German. I leave to the cleaner air of my room and losing my internet.

Back in my room, I read residue of my opened web pages. There are new reports that show that sunscreen helps the skin look younger. I want my skin to look its age. I want my smile lines to be permanent fixture. I want to be reminded of all the happy times I have had on this earth before I die. A testament to the fact that I lived my life, risked everything and not given a damn about the consequences. That my ego need not know whether I won or lost, but that I tried my damnest. A testament that my lease on life was well used. Perhaps that is the point. Perhaps it is hiding a life not lived well that others are trying to hide. I smile more creases on my face and realize that I have a long day ahead of me tomorrow. I am renting a car for the first time in Turkey and I will drive to Termossos. I know I will create some good wrinkles tomorrow. I already started as I smirk falling asleep.

Aging Hands

Returning home on the plane after three months away I sit in the cramped space looking at my hands. I am comfortable with my hands. They are the only part of my body that I see all the time. I have watched them age. I have watched them write, type, touch, hold, caress, hit and work. They are my view of myself. As I age so do they. Started getting liver spots, more wrinkles, less hair, less muscle tone. And I have no issue with this, I like how my hands look. I am comfortable with my hands. Unlike watching my face in the mirror, which is always a reflection, my hands are in front of me. On the other hand, I have difficulty accepting my face. My face is not my image of who I am.

Sometime I accept my face, but at other times I feel an uneasiness. I would like to know how people who have had facial reconstructive surgery deal with their new look. It feels that my face goes through a reconstruction every time I stop looking at it. There is a separation between me and my face.  A time lapse of memory. As though the person looking back at me is exactly that, looking back at me.

But with  my hands, the relationship is much more direct. I have direct contact. It is how I see myself as I function in the world. It is how I see myself interacting, how I manipulate and move objects around me. I am always looking at my hands, directing them, observing them. My hands are my physical extension that I can see.They provide a carpet that open up inviting me to the world. Whatever I am doing my hands are there as an extension that I see. And as I age this very visual part of me is also visibly changing. They have more character. I am very comfortable with my hands and how they are growing to be what I see everyday. I am happy to see my hands age and reflect what they have been through. I only wish that I can do the same with my face.