Maybe it was a New York Times Op-Ed piece at the time that pointed out six or more levels of maturity or psychological development in the adult population, and then saw hippies as falling into three of them. One may have been second from the bottom, that is, just going along for the ride, while the other two were closer to the top, probably reflecting the appeal the movement had for many college students and graduates and/or social activists (think antiwar/anti-draft, for starters). I found it interesting there was a gap in the middle.
I suspect this is one of the reasons it’s difficult to define “hippie” clearly – we covered a wide spectrum of individuals and motivations. Just listen to the argument today over “hip,” “hipster,” and “hippie” for something similar. These days, I’m leaning more toward something along the lines of the “boho” term that would embrace beatnik and hippie as continuations of a stream of counterculture, but that’s still in embryo as far as my thinking.
What I am curious about today is how we’ve grown and matured along the way. On one hand, Robert Bly’s Iron John took aim at the “soft male,” the sensitive hippie guy, who now needed to gain some inner strength and responsibility.
On another, I recall reading the singles ads back when I was searching and coming across more than one self-proclaimed mid-40s “flower child” who was still clueless and passive, and my reacting, “It’s time to grow up,” even as I intuitively backed away. And that was two decades ago.
But it does seem to me there’s a wide stream of individuals continuing in that Bohemian mode. In my case, I’m still a poet and writer who’s moved into the radical Christian tradition called Quaker. And I have a beard, not that it’s necessary.
As for the rest of you, ‘fess up. The comments section is open!