Jack Kerouac was a merchant marine prior to becoming king of the beat writers in the fifties. He wrote about that time of his life in the novel, The Sea is my Brother.
That title describes the way I feel about the ocean as well. We’re related. My ancient kin crawled from there.
One of my favorite books of his is Dharma Bums, from which I borrowed two-thirds of my alias. Dharma also means universal truth, and I’m always seeking one truth or another while meditating and splashing through the surf.
Kerouac wasn’t a hippy. He was a beatnik. His use of the term beat could be more loosely translated: go, go, go…take a road trip..hitchhike across the country..ride some trains with hobos..catch some jazz in San Francisco..hang out by the sea at Big Sur..hitchhike to the northwest and spend time in desolation as a fire lookout..go, go, go until you can’t go any more. Pass out. Get up and do it again. Go, go, go until you are beat. Beat as in exhausted.
I borrow from that philosophy as well when I’m out combing the beach for sharks teeth. I’m usually extremely tired before I head home. After resting, I often go back to the great salt mine again.
Jack lived life to the fullest, writing about all his crazy exploits. The man didn’t breathe life into words. He panted them. A writer like me can only hope to harness a little bit of the magic he had.
A quote from Kerouac’s, On the Road, brings to mind the July 4 holiday.
“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow Roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars, and in the middle, you see the blue center-light pop, and everybody goes ahh…”
Happy birthday, America!