Regrets - (Woodstock: Part 1)
Updated: Jan 31
No...this is not the kind of blog where an old guy talks about what he wished he had done: spent less time working, spent more time working, taking more risks, etc. Pick your regret. No...this blog is more about using the concept of "regrets" as a device to make decisions. Will I regret doing "this" more than I will regret not doing "this"? What about making choices when time is limited? Is doing the sensible thing always the best choice?
I probably should back up a bit. In the last 30 days, I have driven to Dallas, Birmingham, middle Tennessee and this past weekend to Beacon, NY, to help our youngest son move. Peter brought one of his friends with us to help out since this was going to be an exercise in speed and efficiency.
During our eleven hour drive to New York, (and the following day of packing), we had some pretty interesting conversations. It did not take long for the conversations to go from the usual "guy things" to much deeper subjects. Marcus (Peter's friend) asked me how old I was, and after hearing the answer, asked me if I thought much about dying. This was not a dark or morbid conversation. Not in the least. It just had comfortable, conversational feel. He asked about regrets, decision making, turning points in life, etc. The conversation was not unlike discussing the previous week's football games, but it did raise issues that I don't dwell on as a rule. As I said, I loved the depth of the conversation.
Okay, so we drove to New York in eleven hours, ate pizza and slept. The next day, we packed the entire house, loaded the truck, and by 7:00pm, Peter and Marcus pointed the truck south, and headed to Peter's new home.
I, on the other hand, decided to stay over, and take a side trip, before heading home. As it turns out, the location of the Woodstock Music and Art Fair in 1969, is only an hour or so from Beacon...but I was tired...I had been driving a lot and I was ready to get home.
I called Peter to let him know I may just head home in the morning and forget the side trip. The call when something like this:
Peter (and Marcus): How long have you wanted to go to Woodstock and see the museum?
Me: Since 1969.
P & M: When do you plan on being up here again?
P&M: So, how long will you regret not going if you choose not to?
Decision made. I would spend the night in the now empty house, wake up early in the morning, travel north, mark an item off my bucket list, and get home a few hours later than planned. Unfortunately, I started stressing out about the wisdom of that decision and whether or not I should just go home. However, I had just spent the last two days discussing risk taking, regrets, etc.
I woke up the next morning to a beautiful day, grabbed some left over snacks from the trip up, and pointed the car towards Bethel, NY.
Quick History Lesson: Woodstock was not held in Woodstock, NY. The town refused to grant a permit to the promoters (as well as did Wallkill, NY), but Bethel saw it as an opportunity to generate some much needed revenue for the small town. They used an existing permit for a very small music and art show already planned to allow the concert to be held there. The promoters kept the name Woodstock because of it's reputation as the home of Bob Dylan and several other musicians).
About sixty miles south of Woodstock, Bethel opened its doors with the help of Max Yasgur and his farm. With a relatively small number of tickets sold, over four hundred thousand music lovers showed up...and the rest, of course, is history.
Full of excitement and the rest of the bag of Cheetos that I found in the back seat of the car, I made my way up-state. I watched as the temperature dropped and the sky turn gray. A light snow started to fall. I was committed and thirty minutes away from seeing the site of one the most famous music festivals of all times. I had watched the documentary countless times. I had listened to the double album soundtrack dissecting each song over and over again. I even remembered giving hitchhikers rides in Tennessee in '69 as they made their way to New York.
I was committed to the trip.
Ahead in the distance I could see a large building on top of a small rise. Pulling into the Bethel Center for the Arts I was confronted with the sign that said "Museum Closed". Fearlessly, I drove around the orange cones that blocked the entrance and parking lot. Parking in front of the museum, I tried the doors. Locked. I called the emergency number posted on the door, and was asked to leave a message (I am glad that I did not have a real emergency). I even went to the Park Ranger's house and knocked on the door. No answer. (I think he was there but just did not want to deal with another dumb tourist. )
As the snow continued to fall, I drove around all the roads that surrounded the park, but did not see anything that looked like a place that 400 thousand concert goers would have gathered. Feeling defeated, I now regretted the decision that I made, not wanting to regret not making the right decision. You know what I mean. I put our home address in the old Garmin and headed south.
I pulled into a small gas station to load up with gas, diet cokes, and maybe another bag of Cheetos for the road. The old guy behind the counter (possibly my age or younger) asked, "Going to the museum? It's closed ya' know."
After thanking him for his timely insight, I told him my story. I really only wanted to see the monument that overlooked the field. "You know–the one close to where they took the picture for the album cover."
"Oh well, you can see that anytime. It is just about a mile from here. If I were you, I would take a joint, smoke it on the monument, and tell people you were at Woodstock. That is what most people do."
"Okay...good to know!"
"Go down Hurd Road, turn right, and immediately make a U-turn," he said.
I had no idea what those directions meant, but there was renewed hope and I was on a mission.
To continue, go to Blog: Woodstock - Part II