The woods here in West Virginia are green and damp. It is the middle of summer and there is a chill in the air. It is beautiful. Beyond the violins, mandolins, guitars and drums, beyond the hubbub of this Rainbow Gathering, birds still chirp and bugs still crawl.
There are thousands of people here at this annual celebration of hippydom, scattered over a number of acres in a national park. When I arrived and parked my car I heard some distant drumming through the darkness. Torch in hand, I worked my way down a faint path towards it to find the first stop in a wonderland where the paths are muddy and the people are (generally) happy.
The rainbow tribe call the ‘real’ world Babylon: a land of avarice and pride, lust and gluttony; a land where seven is far too small a number to count the sins committed. It recalls memories for me of the time my father told me the community I was living on was La-La Land; I walked the streets of his city soon after that and everywhere I saw La-La Land: in the vacant stares of the drug affected – legal or illegal, they were everywhere; I saw it in the shallow glorification of the dollar; it was rampant in the media, filled with words like ‘outrage’ and ‘special offer’; the caked on makeup did nothing to cover it and neither did the suits.
That was then. I heard someone speak of the ‘chains of Babylon’ last night and had no idea what he meant. I knew exactly what it meant when I wore a suit and bought the special offers and did everything I could to drink the pain away. Now someone says ‘the chains of Babylon’ and I hear ‘the bondage of my mind’. I am sure I could walk through that same city today and see a very different place, just as I recall doing last time I was there.
And after all that, my father was right: I am living in La-La Land. My father is often right. Only La-La Land isn’t a particular place; it is a state of mind. And maybe everybody lives in La-La Land because everybody’s reality is a mere reflection of their mind: I show ten people the same thing and they will all report a different experience. Multiply this by every single sensation and it becomes clear why people can seem so different to one another. Perception is the master of illusion.
So this is La-La Land. As they say here at the Rainbow Gathering: Welcome home!