Oh, Betty Mo’,
I like your idea you got going on. I totally support you! i have a thought for you: in your opinion, what would you describe the difference between beatnik and being bohemian? cause i’ve always considered myself to be kind of bohemian. And since I’m in the military, where you are forced to conform to one standard, how do you think I could get back to that bohemian mentality? any insights are greatly appeciated!
Dear Bohemian Soldier,
Alert! Alert! A hippie has been mis-appropriated into the military! Execute the rescue mission!
Just kidding. All kinds of creative and progressive people work for the military these days for a variety of reasons. (No particular reasons are actually coming to mind, though… hhmmmm.) I thank you for entrusting me with your cultural conundrum, as I can certainly see how a distinct set of limitations are placed in front of you for feeling as though you are connected to your True Beatnik Self, from hair-length limitations to battle-gear fashion standards. (At least the Air Force gets to wear berets!)
My research on the terms ‘beatnik’ versus ‘bohemian’ reveal there is a great deal of overlap with some slight differences. In either case, despite your enlistment in the uniform-clad militia, know that it is the 21st century, man! And lucky for us all, our new President is one cool cat!
Bohemians are known for being unconventional, romantic, and avante-garde artistical and philosophical-types. Being in the military, perhaps you can think of your deployments as a form of life-wandering, or drifting at the whim of Fate like a gypsy. You’re probably rather busy protecting and defending our Nation on a daily basis, but what little time to yourself you may have could be spent reading some Kerouac and Bukowski, writing some raw prose in a journal, listening to some good jazz and learning Bob Dylan lyrics. And thank goodness for the Internet because you can rent a host of films from the era that will put your state of mind right in the thick of the time’s culture.
And I don’t want to leave you hanging there, so to get you started, I encourage you to watch this clip on YouTube for a dose of beatnik goodness:
Who you are as a human and spiritual being is not defined by what your wear or who you report to.
The District of Columbia has a vibrant spoken-word and poetry scene, with poets from all walks of life sharing their experiences and viewpoints. I remember one poet in particular had experience in the military and had several poems that described his experiences or made reference to his memories of being a soldier. There is no shortage of inspiration from both the devastation that we suffer and the blessings we relish in life.
Also, to get in touch with your inner activist, there are plenty of aid & charity organizations that are associated with the military that might interest you. There may even be political clubs that are of a more liberal and progressive agenda that exist on your base. Ask your commander where you can find more information about local organizations to join so you can achieve that self-actualizing feeling of applying your skills and talents exactly where you want them.
There’s a PBS Frontline film that might interest you called ‘Bad Voodoo’s War’, directed by Deborah Scranton, which gives a look into war from a National Guard soldier’s perspective. From the link there, you can explore blogs written by other soldiers, and maybe even start composing your own Milblog, if you are so compelled!
Bottom Line: Being a Beatnik is a state of mind, man. It is not a hairstyle, nor a pair of bell-bottoms, nor a book. Be yourself and be inspired, and you’ll find your Beatnik Balance.
Email your question now: firstname.lastname@example.org.