Inspired by Kerouac

Ironically enough, I bought my first novel by Jack Kerouac while visiting Shakespeare and Company in Paris. The literary and artistic sector of Paris, also known as the Left Bank, has a certain flavor to it. Just like any districts in an urban area, I suppose. It was my preferred flavor of Paris. Art taking all forms. Typewriters, cats, rugs, and old hardwood floors. It felt like… home. Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, Jack Kerouac, Jim Morrison among a few. So many minds, so little time to dive into every single one of their thought processes like I wanted to all at once. A voyage into another galaxy of thought. But Jack Kerouac stuck with me.

I slid On the Road across the counter to the lady behind the counter at Shakespeare and Company. She asked where I was visiting from. I said San Francisco. She said Shakespeare and Company was the sister bookstore of City Lights Bookstore. Lawrence Ferlinghetti, friend of George Whitman (proprietor of Shakespeare and Company) fell in love with the feel of Shakespeare and Company. Then came the City Lights Bookstore. Our own slice of heaven in the Bay Area. I had been to City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco before but did not know until that visit on that very day.

I came back home to the Bay Area and met Neal Cassady’s family at a book fair in Berkeley. They told me stories about Neal and Jack. Jack also spent some time in Denver and ended up in the Bay Area, like I had done. On a recent visit to St. Petersburg, Florida, a friend showed me the bar that Kerouac worked at. I did not know that he lived in St. Pete… but visiting there myself; I believe this may be one of the best-kept secrets for creative endeavors. Colorful mid-century modern homes and soft sandy beaches are maybe what inspired him the same way it inspired me. The people were also incredibly friendly. It seems like a simple place to live as a writer and/or artist of many mediums.

These synchronicities of Jack Kerouac just kept popping up. Like Jiminy Cricket knocking on Pinocchio’s wooden ear, telling him to listen up. I did not know that today, the twelfth of March, would have been his 101’st birthday until looking on the internet.

First sight… he is a Pisces. Inspired, I looked further into Jack Kerouac’s astrological chart. I am no astrologer, but I have been experimenting with astrology for over 20 years. Upon further review, Jack, and I both share a Mercury in Aquarius in our natal charts. His at 24 degrees and mine at 27 degrees in the 11th house. Mercury is the planet of communication and favors travel. I know Aquarius as the revolutionary. The sign that marches to the beat of its own drum. As a writer, I see his philosophical yet poetic and sometimes abstract point of view with ease. Leaving no stone unturned, Kerouac tells stories about everyone who lives in this world, omitting no one because of a socioeconomic background. Everyone counts in his storytelling. Nobody is of any lesser value. We also share Libra in Saturn and Jupiter by a couple of degrees of separation in our natal charts. Saturn is about life lessons and our destiny. While Jupiter is about luck, enjoyment, and expansion. Libra is a friendly sign that likes relationships and our bonds with others. Put this all together, and it equates to liking totravel, meeting people, and telling stories. Bada bing, badaboom!

The above is very sunshine and roses… but with the yin there is always the yang of matters. Life is never perfect, and with the light side, there is always a dark side of matters. The poignant part about life is that we can admire accomplishments while learning from mistakes. Like many artists, Jack Kerouac struggled with balancing the creative process with his mental health, along with indulging in alcohol. Jack died at forty-seven of an esophageal hemorrhage and alcohol related liver disease, which royally screwed up his ability to make the clotting factor to stop the esophageal bleeding, unfortunately.

My thoughts on this are that the creative process waxes and wains for all of us. It is also incredibly easy to escape through the vices. Balance can be a challenge. It can even appear nearly impossible. When we are down and out… and feeling like absolute crap, just trying to get something… hell, anything out every day is a wonderful goal. I think the key is not to put the creative process on hold while drowning your ambitions in something else that seems easier, AKA a vice such as booze, drugs, unhealthy relationships, etc., and the list goes on. Because, in the end… the likelihood of being even more depressed than when you started is high. These vices end up being excuses. Washing away what the initial aim was that made us feel good in the first place, which is creating. It can also leave us with health concerns, ending our lives earlier than expected.

With that… I will get back to my third round of revisions of my fiction/thriller novel based in Marfa, TX. I think Jack Kerouac would have liked Marfa, TX as the artist town that it is today. The road I have taken to where I am now is absolutely, without a doubt, exactly where I am supposed to be while writing this book. The astrological ingredients are there for me, just as they were for there for Jack Kerouac. Balancing mental health, physical health, and creating may just be the message here, along with spending time with friends, traveling, and meeting new people along the way. 

Even though Jack’s time here on Earth was limited, we can still learn a lot from him to this very day.

Happy Birthday to Jack Kerouac today.

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