Beat writers

On The Road Or Anywhere

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Have you ever dreamed of being on the road, following the horizon wherever it takes you?

For American readers, On The Road by Jack Kerouac is a vignette of the many qualities which seem to embody the American ideals of independence and individuality.

What could be more freeing than traveling on a whim without constraints or the limits of authority?  What could better capture the youthful zeal for self-reliance that raged during the cultural revolution that brought the 50s into the turbulence of the 1960s?

In recent years, there has been a resurgence in the popularity of Jack Kerouac who is now seen as a beacon of the Beat generation.  Beat writers were known for innovative literary style, rejection of social standards and materialism and a counterculture acceptance of various lifestyles.  It is from the Beat Generation that the Beatles got their name. :)

Jack Kerouac is one of the most iconic writers of his day because of how his work has transcended time, capturing the American spirit in the quintessential coming of age novel.  The book is highly autobiographical and follows the lives of Sal Paradise (Kerouac) and Dean Moriarty (Neal Cassady) as they traverse across America, hitchhiking and driving open plains on a meandering adventure.  The plot is nonlinear and the style challenges expected grammatical structure in more ways than one.  But Kerouac proved that art goes beyond established limitations.  Dean and Sal are filled with a frontier spirit that kindles the desire in American readers to experience the bohemian lifestyle, too.

Recently, my Dad and I road tripped from Orlando to Wheaton to bring me back for sophomore year.  We went to Atlanta, Chattanooga, Nashville, St. Louis and finally Chicago.

I can personally say that there is something exhilarating about seeing only the open expanse of road in front of you. As Kerouac writes, “Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.” I saw such a stretch of terrain in such a short amount of time as we went from Lookout Mountain to the rolling hills of Tennessee to the flat stretch of land that led us into St. Louis.  We arrived at sunset, just in time to see the sun glowing through the Gateway Arch, which proved to be the most scenic sight of the trip.  While there, we made it to the top of the Arch and visited Forest Park and the museum of Missouri history.  We also had the great privilege of having dinner with our friend Ridley Pearson, author of the Kingdom Keepers series.
At the top of the Gateway Arch!

After St. Louis, we hit the road and took the historic Route 66 to Chicago, which is where where the road officially ends.  We stopped at historic sites that had been refurbished for travelers to reminisce in the old days of travel.  It was amazing to see the places of history that still remain as reminders of days long past.

Being on the road for a week gave me a glimpse of the joy that came from travel before the age of airplanes.  There is an undeniable sense of liberty in being able to physically get yourself from one place to another, seeing all the many sights along the way.

I encourage you: TAKE A ROADTRIP!  If there is somewhere you have always wanted to go, then what's holding you back?  Most importantly of all, go with someone you love and cherish the memories that will last forever.

Many of the ideals behind Jack Kerouac's On The Road are far from wholesome; however, there is something that we can learn from their flexibility, lack of scheduling, nonchalant mentality.  They lived in the moment, fully immersed in the present with little stress or worry.  What can we learn from that?

Are we so dictated by our calendars that we miss out on the little blessings of everyday life?


Now, it's time for a quick Throwback Thursday!  Kerouac's house is about twenty minutes away from where I live in Florida.  Right after my high school graduation, my Dad took me to visit it.  The house is especially cool because different writers apply to live there for a few months at a time!  The live-in writer when we were there was a young woman who writes short stories and she gave us a personal tour.  It's exhilarating to connect in some way to the history of my craft and to see its influence.




To close, I want to share with you my favorite quote from On The Road.  Maybe it will inspire you to think like an artist, to pursue whatever it is you've always imagined beyond the road. 


“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.” 

May you be desirous of everything, eager to explore, to feel, to be adventurous, to live.

-Ciera



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4 comments

  1. You have experienced what it means to live On The Road. You are on the write track. May your life be a wild uncharted adventure!

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    1. Thank you! I am so excited to see where this winding adventure leads!

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  2. That sounds so awesome! I love travelling and roadtrips!


    Alexa S. Winters
    thessalexa.blogspot.com

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    1. Me, too! I love to explore new places and try new things. It's always good for writing inspiration and for expanding my horizons. ;)

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