I’m almost finished rereading Jack Kerouac’s “The Dharma Bums.” That book influenced me so much back in my twenties, and I had one of those Japanese tea sets that had cups without handles so I could sit under a pine tree writing poems and sipping tea. I didn’t have a clue–in those days it was all in the accessories! I can laugh now about my younger, shallow self, though I did hitchhike up and down the West Coast and lived in a little shack in the woods, with a month of isolation at the end; I was the last one to leave. I tried to get a job as a fire lookout like both Kerouac and Gary Snyder, but I failed the civil service test they made me take… it seems you had to know trigonometry.
I just bought the Dharma Bums Deluxe Edition that recently came out, with cartoons on the cover that capture the characters in the book so well—as dogs! It brings back memories of how I wanted to be a dharma bum without comprehending much about the spiritual practice. But what I’m feeling most right now is sadness over how much of the book is spent justifying his drinking, trying to make it Buddha-like, when it was clearly the most important thing in his life and would cause his death from cirrhosis at 47.
It’s raining again in Portland, and Kieran still wanted to be outside. He likes to strut his stuff and swagger around barking at the neighbors and at the other dog next door. He wouldn’t come in until he was good and ready, and I didn’t want to go out and get him because I’m wearing summer Croc shoes with holes in and my socks would get soaked. He can be very hard to catch at such times.