The Desert and The Dharma Bums

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Photo courtesy of Max Robertson

While meandering through the southwest United States last spring, I drove off from a lookout in awe of (once again) middle-of-nowhere-Utah’s raw and utter beauty. Distracted by the landscape, my bag of beloved belongings remained, abandoned at the side of the road.

The item itself was $11.00 from Mountain Equipment Coop – I wasn’t overly concerned. But in it was my vagabond survival kit: my toothbrush, my journal, my passport.

Problem-solving mode kicked in. There was an outpost close by (they would surely have dental products for purchase). The journal was still relatively new (I wouldn’t lose too many memories). I still had my wallet, car ownership and awkward charm (surely I could barter my way back across the border).

But… The Dharma Bums.

My half-read and already-dog-eared copy of Kerouac’s unbroken ramblings.

The book had become a large part of my vagabond survival, and the thought of it lost in the wild brought a palpable sense of anguish (albeit, yes, admittedly somewhat fitting).

I was loosely interested in the plot. I vaguely wanted to see how it would end. But those quotes

Those beautiful quotes that had become my equivalent of Willy Wonka’s five Golden Tickets: nearly impossible to find, but invaluable in the weight they carried if you did.

Would I lose the ones I had already found? When would I be able to search for more?

Two weeks later and to the credit of a very kindhearted Colorado citizen, I got the bag, my book and yes, my passport back. After learning the hard way, however, I made sure to document my Golden Tickets at the very first opportunity.

Just in case that journal goes missing, I thought I would also place a few of my favourites here (you can never be too careful).

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#7. “Days tumbled upon days, I was in my overalls, didn’t comb my hair, didn’t shave much, consorted only with dogs and cats, I was living the happy life of childhood again.

#6. “What did I care about all the irking hurts and tedious wronks of the world, the human bones are but vain lines dawdling…”

#5. “…things come but to go, all things made have to be unmade, and they’ll have to be unmade simply because they were made!”

#4. “Better to sleep in an uncomfortable bed free, than a comfortable bed unfree.”

#3. “A gnashing teeth of earth, where would it all lead to but some sweet golden eternity, to prove that we’ve all been wrong, to prove that the proving itself was nil…”

#2. “The chipmunk ran into the rocks and a butterfly came out. It was as simple as that.”

#1. “To the children and the innocent, it’s all the same.”

What’s yours?

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