Revelations: I'm a little bit hippie
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BY JENNIFER PREYSS
Something interesting happened this week. I discovered I might be a little bit of a hippie. Now, stay with me. I'm not changing my name to Starlight, or abandoning the use of deodorant. I am a perfume fanatic after all. But, after meeting a few hippie superheroes in Victoria last week, I considered it might not be the worst idea in the world to live dirty, unplanned and somewhat liberated from cultural norms, if only for a day.
You may have had the pleasure of meeting the Superhero Bicyclists last week. They were the fluorescently-dressed, cape-wearing bikers who rode around town searching for random good deeds and acts of kindness to fulfill. A fitting role for them, if I do say so myself - because they were, indeed, kind people. Of the 13 superheroes who rolled through the city, there wasn't a person in the bunch who didn't seem like an absolute gem to befriend.
They were interesting, intriguing, intelligent, well-read, well-traveled and well-spoken. Yet they seemed to collectively and joyfully reject many aspects of our culture that we deem normal. For example, working, sleeping in beds, showering daily, using a legal name and driving a car, were a few of the things they chose not to prioritize for the duration of their month-long Texas bike ride.
When asked about their current employment status, many of them responded with long lists of prior jobs. And surprisingly, many of them couldn't, or didn't want to, even identify a city in which they live. They were "home-free," they said.
And I'm sure, as I interviewed them for the article "Superheroes visit Victoria," they spotted a few eyebrow raises on my face. And I'm sure they detected a bit of skepticism and, yes, even some judgment, in my body language. But, it wasn't necessarily directed at them. It was, in all likelihood, directed at myself. How had these people, some of whom were about my age, figured out how to love and discover the world, and enjoy it freely, and I had not?
Doesn't Ecclesiastes 3 say, "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens ... a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing?"
So, how can I not be envious of the hippie superheroes? They managed to break through all cultural (and spiritual) barriers, and leave a path behind them, that reeks of fun.
As the superheroes left my sights for the last time, I started asking myself, when I last embraced life with reckless abandon? I asked myself, when I last did something careless, disregarding my inevitable dissenters?"
My conversations with the superheroes, including a sweet coffeehouse conversation with The SerendipTease and NightShade Acorn, left a nagging internal voice in my head that forced me to question if I'm enjoying God's provision enough, and trusting in His plans for my life, rather than the familiar plans of Western culture.
The superheroes also forced me to ask myself if I was taking advantage of the moments in life that forever leave footprints on our hearts and minds. You know, the moments where it may seem odd to lay down in an open field and stare up at clear night sky, but you do it anyway because you can. The moments where someone invites you to go surfing, or scuba diving, or rappelling, or picnicking on a random Tuesday night, and you do it because you can. I mean, truly, why couldn't I decide to get some friends together, pack a few supplies and drive to some far-off city? There'd be no map, no hotel, no plan. We'd camp somewhere, maybe in the car. We'd figure out a way to build a fire, and stay up late telling stories and laughing. We'd wake up cold, sore and swearing we'd never do anything that stupid for the rest of our lives. But, when we got home, we'd have a cherished memory that would sure delight folks at cocktail parties 20 years from now. And we'd do it because there's no darn good reason not to. So I encourage you this week to do something careless, unplanned and superhero-like - because God and the Superhero Bicyclists would want you to. Safe travels to you all.
Jennifer Preyss is the Advocate's faith reporter. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.