I am/was a Dead Head; not the kind who followed the band around the country camped out in decrepit cars begging tickets and hand-outs for food, but enough to drive a few hours to a county park or Berkeley for a Sunday afternoon with friends whenever the Dead were in town. Rolling Stone just published a retrospective of articles about the Dead and interviews with Jerry Garcia. While there is much mildew on Garcia’s rose, the damage done by a life of drug abuse, he was perhaps the leading artist, albeit flawed as so many are, of the generation that grew up in, and out of, the expansive, explosive thinking of the late 1960’s.
In the late 1980’s, when many of the concert attendees were the children of the original Dead Heads, the interviewer asks: “What do you think the kids who come to see the Dead are trying to connect with?”
It’s an adventure you can still have in America, just like Neal (Cassady) on the road. You can’t hop the freights anymore, but you can chase the Grateful Dead around. You can have all your tires blow out in some weird town in the Midwest, and you can get hell from strangers. You can have something that lasts throughout your life as adventures, the times you took chances. I think that’s essential in anybody’s life, and it’s harder and harder to do in America.
Might we reflect on this on a Sunday morning? Might we think about how we, as teachers, without resorting to the Acid Test, can create the conditions where our students are confident to take those true trips of adventure, chance, and self-discovery? Might we find just a bit more of those Beat and hippie freedoms of mind in an ever-more quantized life?
Oh, and if you have no idea what this post is about, ask me sometime!