I DIDN'T GET LAID AT WOODSTOCK:
HOW TO BE HAPPY WITH WHATEVER YOU END UP GETTING...
WHILE YOU'RE GETTING IT!
One Sunday evening in March, 1969, I found myself writhing around onstage at the Tivolis Koncertshal in Copenhagen, Denmark. I had just strummed and sung a song I’d learned from a Tiny Tim record, burned my ukulele, and smashed it to bits. As I was flailing about enthusiastically with the pieces, a Swedish teenager ran onto the stage, leaned over and touched my shoulder gently. “Are you okay?” she asked. “Yes!” I whispered. And continued writhing.
I had left home two and a half years before to find myself, and here I was. As the audience applauded, I thought “Why me, Lord?” then reflected on how calm I felt as I rolled around, and how strange and wonderful it was to be getting paid to do this. After the show, I sat alone in my hotel room eating Filet de Sole Madame Walewska off a silver room service platter (accompanied by both French fries andpotato chips) and wondered, “What does it all mean?” I was touring Europe with a psychedelic rock and roll band, having a ball playing music, eating fish cooked with lobster bits and truffles, and I still felt restless and unsatisfied. Something was rotten in Denmark.
I’d already acquired an Ivy League education at Brown, done a brief stint with the Peace Corps in Kenya and then I got very lucky; I went from being just another musician hanging around and jamming in Berkeley, California, to appearing on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carsonand touring Europe with Country Joe and the Fish, and finally, playing at Woodstock with the band.
But wherever I went, and no matter what I did, I always felt like I was on the prowl. Why wasn’t I happy? I thought that perhaps I was just itching for sex or success, but time and again, the euphoria of exciting experiences would quickly fade, and I’d find myself wanting yet another big jolt. After my musical career ended in the early 70s, I dove into relationships. On my second date with my wife-to-be, who was also my ex-wife-to-be, I played a song on dental floss on the David Lettermanshow. When our marriage broke up, I spent seven years living at Kripalu, a large Yoga Center where the resident guru and his disciples taught—and supposedly modeled—a lifestyle that promised an end to my yearnings and searching. I did yoga, meditated, and chanted up a storm, and it was all wicked fun.
I feel fortunate to have had some wild and crazy experiences during a truly extraordinary time in America - the 1960s and 70s. I encountered some famous people, played with some very talented musicians, met some wise teachers, and I got to travel the world. Maybe all of this was a combination of luck, timing, serendipity and my constant search for more (and bigger) adventures. But that sense of always striving, which is so conditioned into most of us, also managed to make me miss out on a lot of good times. I was often too busy planning for the next experience to fully enjoy the one that I was in. Does that sound familiar? So many of us live this way; we’re so invested in the future that we’re rarely fully present. Eventually, yoga and meditation managed to quiet my restless mind a lot, but I still thought there was something out there that I needed to acquire (or control) in order to be truly happy. All of this made me wonder what being “happy” really means...and when would I find out?