"I am a Child...I last a While..."

Boonville, CA 1996

 What a day...We were fortunate enough to have run into someone in Boonville who new the FARM and it wasn't far from where we had breakfast...so we went there.....it was abandoned....just another Ghost town. We talked to Gerald, who lived on the property-a moonie, and he filled us in:

 It seems that the party at the Farm didn't last much longer after we departed on the day before New Year's Day in 1980. They have moved there "workshops" to Calistoga. Theo...the guitar player got his Electrical Contractors License and who knows where he is-shocking!?

 I remember asking Jim-the guy who originally asked if I was from Germany-how long he had been at the Farm. He replied in a daze "Oh, I don't know...a couple months.......a year..." But that sort of sums up one particular element of the Farm-there was not one clock to be seen the whole time we were there and yet, things always seemed to move along in a very definite chronology-Breakfast-discussion-nature talk-lunch-GOD talk-songs-dinner. we never knew who was the leader or pushing it along but it just kept on going...."a couple months...a year..."

 Back to the present:

 Mac lost his wallet... Bummer. Then the car started acting funny. I think its a fuel problem-filter or pump but we're just going to rent one to keep this thing moving along.

 We are heading towards San Francisco as quickly as possible-I'm late for a very important date. I have been fortunate enough to have been introduced to the "open mike" sessions every Wednesday at The Sacred Grounds-a coffee house at Cole and Hayes. I play six-string guitar (barely) and sometimes throw in a little harp. I've been writing songs for nearly 15 years and began playing some of them at The Sacred Grounds at the start of this year. It's really a poetry reading on Wednesdays but they like to have a couple songs to break it up. The MC is a British gentleman named Bernie Doodle. Bernie is a very warm and talented poet/writer whose fascination with eternity seems to help grant him a very peaceful continence. "If it won't matter in a million years it's probably not worth worrying about now"...or something like that. It was he who suggested that I play and so now, many months of playing later, I am the featured performer. No big whiff...2 or 3 beers...5 or 6 songs. But as I said, we're later than Jerry Garcia.

 I am reminded of a particular night at the farm--the last night Mac and I spent there. I guess there were about 25 people at the farm at the time and we always ate together. It was after dinner and a suggestion arose that we might go around the big dinner table and take turns offering some sort of entertainment--this is pretty much what will happen tonight at The Sacred Grounds. And, indeed, there was poetry and stories that night but there had been no music up to the point when it became my turn. Again, this occurred 15 years ago and back then I didn't know what a C-chord on a guitar looked like but I had my voice.

 An aside: One thing seemed crystal clear when Mac and I were hitching across the US: He was the Cynic and I was the Dreamer. He saw the clouds, I the silver lining. So there were times when Mac would save us from dangers that I was oblivious to while other times I would deliver us to delights hidden from his view--we were a perfect balancing act. There’s much more on this but this is only an aside.

 My time at the farm had been magical...wonderful. Surrounded by friendly people who saw as much wonder in the world as I. They seemed to share with me the endless fascination in everything that is our world; our lives. Mac, on the other hand, spent most of his time trying to reveal the mockery of the sham of the facade that he perceived this whole event to be. The truth, as usual, lies somewhere in between. I was really enjoying the theological and philosophical classes that were part of the daily routine. The instructor was a naturally gifted teacher: animated, interesting and a good gatekeeper. He would interject just the right stuff at just the perfect time to insure the best group discussions that these students could possibly combine to create. He brought out the very best in each individual and created an ambiance which allowed the group to discover abstractions that none of its members, on their own, would ever have discovered. Like any gifted teacher, he could have taught the preparation of sausage and left his students equally as inspired and excited. For the time being, God’s existence and comparative religion was keeping him busy.

 I was as comfortable at the farm as Mac was nervous--this was no place for a cynic and there were dreamers that had been here for “...a couple months....a year....” And as I stood to sing a song I was struck by the perfect song to sing. That day in class the discussion had centered on the family structure. At the head of the household was God. Underneath God, as equal partners, were mom and dad. The children filled in the bottom and they were the main concern...the main responsibility of God, mom and dad. The song that I stood to sing acappella was Neil Young’s “ I am a Child” and here are the lyrics:

 I am a child. I last a while
You can’t conceive of the pleasure in my smile.
You hold my hand, rough up my hair.
It's lots of fun to have you there.

 God gave to you now you give to me.
I’d like to know what you’ve learned.
the sky is blue and so is the sea.
What is the color when black gets burned?
What is the color?

 You are a man. You understand.
You pick me up then you lay me down again.
You make the rules. You say what’s fair.
It’s lots of fun to have you there.

 God gave to you now you give to me.
I’d like to know what you’ve learned.
the sky is blue and so is the sea.
What is the color when black gets burned?
What is the color?

 I am a child. I last a while.
You can’t conceive of the pleasure in my smile.............Thanks Neil!!!

 This was the first time I had ever sung-all alone-in front of a crowd and I remember, very distinctly, that between the instant when I began to sing, up until the end of the last line, something new and powerful had been born in me. It was a palpable and distinct personal metemorphosis. I will never forget the window of growth opportunity which appeared to me that night, nor will I ever return to being the person that I was before I stood up to sing the perfect song on just the right night at the Moonie’s dinner table.

 “You can’t conceive of the pleasure in my smile.....”

 Incidentally, I was not the only one who felt the spirit of the moment. Without exception, everybody present expressed the feeling that some potent thing had just occurred--if your ever at a workshop sponsored by the Moonies, don’t be surprised to find “I am a Child” by Neil Young in their official songbook. Tell ‘em Jon Pedestrian sent you and thanks again, Neil.....for everything.

 Tripin' in Reverse....