The documentary Peter and the Wolf is about a farmer who went “back to the land” as a hippie in the 1960’s.The story is inspiring of course, because its amazing what Peter, the main character, has accomplished.But the tragedy is also what he loses.Some mixture of estrangement and alcoholism (I can’t tell what came first) leaves him a man with a farm but no family.I watched the documentary as a wannabe agrarian, but at one point he says something striking that resonated because it transcended the topic of the farm.My paraphrase:

“I loved what we were doing with the hippies, but I never grew my hair out because I didn’t want to lose the respect of the farmers.Their approval was what I really wanted.”

Peter had an intuitive sense that the men in the trenches of work and family, who tussled daily with real things, had a leg up on faddish hippies trying to construct a utopia (which, excepting Peter, failed like so many such projects do).By their virtue and lives the neighboring farmers were more worthy of honor and could, therefore, bestow the honor Peter longed for. ….