Like in On The Road, there are wild parties, poetry sessions and girls, but inbetween the bouts of revelry, Ray and Japhy trek into the mountains of Washington State to meditate and commune with nature.
Japhy is both a best friend and a guru to Ray. As a follower of zen buddhism, things like status, possessions and career advancement are unimportant to him – his goals are spiritual. Ray hopes to learn from him, but often the way is hard, and eventually they go their seperate ways.
When I say Kerouac cured my facebook habit I’m exaggerating. I didn’t avoid the site altogether, but while I was following Ray and Japhy’s quest for spiritual bliss, my reliance on those transitory little hits of happiness went right down. I was on – dare I say it – a higher plane.
Yes, I’d like to get that book back; I want to re-read it. And it’s got me thinking about the other things that left my life – on loan – never to be returned; the Patti Smith autobiography, the Ramones album and several other items that now live on other peoples’ shelves and bedroom floors
Oh, I remember; Denny lent it me a couple of years ago! The book by Thomas Mann? I borrowed it from an old girlfriend that I don’t see anymore…
Yes, I’m as guilty as anyone; and I hope nobody asks for anything back!
When we’ve been affected by something, it’s comforting to have it around. After a while the books and records on our shelves become a physical embodiment of our identity, even if they weren’t originally ours. I like the way cultural goods and clothes migrate between friends in this unplanned way; it’s a kind of unconscious gifting. We rarely miss these lost things unless we are suddenly reminded of them. In any case, there will always be new ones coming our way…
When we form relationships, there can be few stronger expressions of love than pooling what we own with our partner as our lives merge. Conversely, there is nothing to match the sordid experience of seperating your possessions when the split eventually comes. Retaining your dignity can be harder than regaining your stuff.
In the end, physical objects don’t matter. Wisdom matters, and it needs to be passed on. But I still need to read The Dharma Bums one more time – so I can learn to really let go…
Originally published on Tom George Arts.