From my first joint, to the first time I stuck my thumb out and bummed my way up north through Big Sur, to the summer of love, to landing in Europe with $10 cash, a $100 two party check and no return ticket, to burning my draft card and becoming a man on the run, to hiding out in the South Pacific while a civil war burned on the streets of America, I lived the sixties to the hilt, in all its wildness, joys, psychedelics and vagabonding, and The Trip Into Milky Way is my humble effort to capture a small slice of that strange journey.
We, as a generation, embarked with such great hopes, only to see our hopes dashed, in some cases by our own failings, in most cases by a world that seems driven by some ancient, unspoken DNA to be cruelly resistant to change.
What did it all mean in the end, the sixties? For those of us who were there and swept up by the dream, it was perhaps our foolish belief that we could transform this world into something truly egalitarian.
I’m sure none of us imagined we would arrive all these decades later, to a world where greed and corporate profit have so thoroughly displaced our childhood ideals. And I’m sure I speak for many when I say, do not think that such greed and the idolatry of unfettered capitalism have won the day. The long sweep of history always moves, however slowly, towards the spirit of love and cooperation. It is as if we were once a tribe, and have endured the many horrors of the intervening millennium attempting to reestablish the herald of mankind where we had left it. However imperfectly, to begin with this simple premise. We are one.
I once joked to a friend, to bring back the sixties, all we need is a civil rights movement, a free speech movement, a war, a draft, some psychedelics and a few assassinations. If only. That brief moment in time was something so special, I can’t see how it will ever be repeated. To this day, I don’t claim to understand it, but I’m sure glad I was there and hope my tale will stand as a reminder, to all of those who were there with me, and to all of those who wish they had been. We did believe in love and peace on earth. Let’s never forget that.
All the characters you will encounter in The Trip Into Milky Way, from Stan, the ‘Nam chopper pilot, to Faith, the expatriate slumming down in San Blas, to Eric, the Bhagavad Gita toting space cadet, to Sarah, the former Molotov throwing revolutionary, have a counterpart in the wonderful, real life characters I had the good fortune to meet along the way. The Trip Into Milky Way is an epic tale, because I was brash and foolish enough to live my young life in that way.
Like Clay in the novel, who finds himself in a dusty, nowhere Mexican town, broken and all alone at the end of the world, I very much remember the ache and emptiness of being torn apart from all that I had known and loved as a boy, but I would gladly go back and do it all over again. In a heartbeat. As Clay is told by a Papago shaman, an unusual life is never an easy one, but who remembers what doorknobs we turned, or what light switches we flicked? It is only the cliffs we jumped of and the risks we took that become forever etched into our hearts.
So, here’s hoping you enjoy my remembrance of the sixties. Let’s never forget our dreams or that bygone era. Let’s always be brave enough to jump off of new cliffs…