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  • Samuel Gold Commentary

    2015 - 01.24

    A Pivotal Moment

    It was the summer of 1969, I was a young boy growing up outside of Detroit Michigan. My father had died on my birthday 2 years before. Well meaning and sympathetic adults had given me my first door out. It was the complete Encyclopedia Britannica. Laying the ground for a life long passion of learning, I spent most of my evenings at home deep inside of these books. I especially enjoyed the Science Year addition , which was a year by year compilation of the accomplishments and forays of science.

    Nixon had taken the White  house, Man had returned from the lunar landings. A house cost 15,000 dollars, the average wage was 9,000 dollars a year. Rent was 150.00

    The ant-war protests were at their height and something happened called “Woodstock” and something darker called “Altamont”.

    My mother took us shopping and also would let me stay in the car and read. I had no interest in following her around a store filled with things I could not have. So I would sit in the car and read books beyond my years, enjoying the landscapes of the written word. It was at this time I saw something that forever changed my world view, something that would influence every thought and action in my small life.

    Some may look at my insight and laugh, but the way some people see trash, some others find treasure.

    We were parked in a Kroger grocery store on Telegraph Avenue in Dearborn Michigan. My mother took my brother and sister inside to shop. I remained in the car and had cracked open the spine of yet another book about cowboys on the open ranges in the West, a gift from my Grandmother. I was reading and lost in this book when I first heard voices. I looked in the direction of the sound. I saw what I thought to be grown ups sitting outside the store, They were dressed differently and had long hair, they were asking people who went into the store for spare change. People were avoiding them and some showed disgust to them. I watched fascinated, listening. I learned later they were called “Hippies” from my mother who said they were bad people that did not believe in God.

    But in the moment as I listened to them I heard things, I heard stories of hardship, tales of travel to parts unknown. Conversations that went on forever about “Drugs” which seemed to be a fixation for these folk. As I listened I noticed they laughed, they laughed with a sound so carefree and unattached I had never heard of it before. I had only known misery and death so far in this life, except the gentle light that my Grandmother shed on me, I was afraid of the world. My mothers way of punishment was to threaten to take us to downtown Detroit and leave us there. I believe fears of abandonment grew from this behavior. But in this parking lot, the Hippies had gathered to try to rustle up some food, when one got enough money from panhandling, they would go inside and buy food and then bring it out to the rest where it was divided as far as it could go. I never had witnessed this kind of behavior I wondered why all of this was so special, I wondered why they were there and not in cars driving. I wondered why they had to ask for money and didn’t have it. I wondered why they smiled when everyone seemed so sad and preoccupied. I looked closer and saw some of their eyes. I saw something for the first time in my life. I saw a light that was not unique to them but they carried it with them. I saw a freedom a knowing, a sense of the divine. I also saw the exact opposite in the ones whose souls were enslaved by the world and who had succumb to hard drug use. But most of the explanations came later. I was not equipped to understand them entirely. I only saw something so different from anything else in my environment, I just knew I wanted to be a part of that.

    I did something forbidden, I left the car. I wanted to see this up close, I wanted to find out what the meaning of it was. The same curiosity that drove me to read, pulled me into the energy that I only sensed.

    I walked out of the car, I locked it. You had to lock everything in Detroit, one of the first things my mother taught us. She taught us through fear, she made us fear and fear and fear. Thinking this was Gods way of making people behave. She was from post war Germany and raised in the slums of south Chicago, given up for adoption from her family. I will never be able to describe her Hell in this writing.

    Approaching the crowd the first thing I noticed was the woman, she had a beauty I could not understand having never seen it before, She smiled as warm as the sun and radiated laughter. Coming over she said hello to me, I was speechless. She smiled and ran her fingers through my hair saying I was a beautiful boy. No one had ever done that to me, no one had ever just knelt and said I was beautiful, no one ever made me smile right away. I think it was the first time I fell in love with women. At such a young age, I was exposed to a love light that was so pure and unlike anything I had ever known before, I was just attracted to it immediately. For the rest of my life, I would always seek to bask in this light that this total stranger, a young hippie chick, just shed on me. I had lost much and this woman\girl in 5 minutes, changed everything I understood about love.

    She asked if I wanted to meet her friends, I didn’t know what to say, recalling my mothers warning of these godless people. She said it was OK and took my hand and led me over to where a group of them were sitting and one was playing a guitar, a magical instrument that I would love for the rest of my life. The other people there looked at me and as she lead me over, that same light in their eyes to a more or less of a degree. A man picked me up and looked in my face and remarked that I was as light as a feather, for the first time since my father died I got to ride on this young mans shoulders. He walked around and took me to his friends saying this is “Sam”. They would laugh and smile, someone gave me some chocolate and I just became an eye for a while, taking in the new mystery. Floating above their heads and watching a old but new way of human interaction. All of my circuits were on, my brain started creating a brand new shelf for many, many memories to come.

    Time had dilated and it seemed to be a little bit of heaven, I was accepted as who I was, a young curious, smiling boy. It was so fortunate that these were gentle freaks, it may have been something so different, it could have been my worst mistake. Children disappeared all of the time and were found dead in bad places. I understood my mothers reasons to fear and I bought into them as the only reality there was.
    But these sweet people were harmless, later, reflecting on this as an older person, I came to understand and accept that the universe had saved me, the universe or “God”, wanted me to learn and see something. I was to realize that all of life was not to die, but to shine brilliant for a brief time, defying the state of mind that said we could not.

    This encounter ended badly for me, but the seeds had been planted and grew and eventually took over the garden in my mind. My mother came out of the store, she saw the car empty and started looking around in a panic, she started screaming for me, they girl who had brought me into this circle of people looked at me and took my hand, she said, “It is time to go now, your mamma’s calling you, remember to always be happy, when you grow up you can do anything you want to”. I remember these words to this day, they were symbolic on many levels, they dictated many of my decisions, they taught me to see love in women, my mother would never be able to show me.

    I walked to the car, my mother saw me and I saw many emotions go through her face, I saw relief, panic, anger. She grabbed my hand and in front of everyone in the parking lot, in front of these beautiful strangers and in front of God himself. She beat me until I cried, threw me in the car, we did not live far and when she got home I was beaten more and sent to my room screaming without food. I refused to talk for days, I went to the Christian school I was in and refused to talk. The teachers knew something had happened but did not know and I would not speak of it, not understanding myself.

    For a very long time I thought of this and for the longest of time I could not rectify the difference of these people who had shown me unconditional love from the type of painful love and fear that came from my home life. The seeds were planted, For all of my youth, I could not wait to find this light again. I was exposed in a very short time to something that had a profound effect on me. I became a hippy, I became by nature, counter-culture and a free thinker. I became rebellious and acted out of rage against the prison I was put in by people who thought it was for my own good. On my papers in class, I drew figures of long haired kids with signs protesting. I saw images of these people on the news and again caught glimpses of that special light that changed me in an instant. I dreamed of running away and living in the woods and being with nature. I continued to withdraw into the world of books and surrounded myself in a fortress of words until I was able to finally break free eight years later.

    The moments went on into many directions filled with light and dark. Many other moments were places in time that galvanized me and plotted the course in my life. My only use in this life other than working for someone else’s crimes was to try to bring people to see a light of love that was introduced to me in a few minutes. In all of my relationships I tried to get back to this serene, calm and pure love light. Not many places in this world have it anymore and I feels so sorry for those who never experienced. For this type of love, is all we are here to learn. To have it, to give it and to realize that all of sadness is due to its lack.

    I learned more of the love that Christ brought to us in his teachings in about twenty minutes than I did in twenty years of religious schooling. I think that once you feel this, you are never the same and you can have this, on your own. You can find and share this within or without a church or any type of organized religion for that matter.

    Many people get shown the light in many different situations and circumstances. To this day I wonder what that innocuous group of hippies came to. I actually, sadly know what. I do not believe they knew what they did to me by sharing that one Pivotal Moment with me.



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