I saw the new Ang Lee film "Taking Woodstock" last night. Hard to believe it is 40 years, then again, everything these days seems so far in the past and hard to believe.
I wasn't there. I had moved to California [the first time] in June of that year so I watched with fascination as the phenomenon took on a life of its own. For those too young to remember, that was also the summer of the Mets and also the summer of the moon walk, a remarkable year 1969. The film does a good job capturing that moment. Peace love and music for three days. Seems so foreign a possibility now, but no less remarkable then I suppose.
I confess, I wouldn't have gone if I had been still in New York. I was, and likely remain, too uptight for that sort of happening. I never liked crowds. I never liked drugs nor being around druggies. And yet, looking back, like the protagonist of the film, I might have come out of a life-long shell if I had gone. I might have had a truly transformative experience, which otherwise took me years to achieve and is thus hardly transformative - I never morphed, I evolved.
Still, as my older daughter likes to remind me, we need to get out of our comfort zones now and then. Change, I've always believed, has to be facilitated - it doesn't happen to us. We have to make change in order to achieve change. That's what Laguna Beach was about for me, a decision I have never once regretted for a moment, despite still longing for the near and dear.
We need change - each of us needs change now and then, and the world we inhabit, that is seriously in need of change, but I echo our leader. Another reason today to be thinking about Ted Kennedy who devoted his life to change for those he believed most in need of a voice for change. A complex man of many flaws and who, I believed, suffered severely for the stresses placed upon him from the get-go, he found change in himself over time and surely made change his priority - a priority served as much by persistence as passion.
Sometimes persistence is everything. Sometimes simply an attitude adjustment. Usually both. The lessons of Woodstock and Kennedy, among others. I would like to see on my headstone [metaphorically speaking as I intend to be cremated] merely this: She always tried to do better. To do better requires change. We do need to shake off the familiar at times and take on the new. What might we find as we turn that corner?
Yet, on a sultry summer day like today, I would rather sit on the back patio immersed in the gorgeous book I am reading, the third of the divine Italian writer Erri de Luca. Change will have to wait at least another day.