When I was 17 and read Jack Kerouac for the first time, it was as if the entire world turned technicolor. One of the more cruel realities of advancing age (besides the harsh realization that you can't make old friends) is the gradual on-set of cynicism and sadness. I struggle to remain relatively pure of heart, but even with the time I spend in deep meditation or cultivating joy, I continue to find reasons to be disappointed in people.
So, anyway.. "The Dharma Bums" was the book that really set everything on fire in my heart as a kid. It has long been a source of radiant beauty and spiritual inspiration, but these days, I can't seem to read more than a few pages without feeling lonesome. The whole thing feels more like a relic than a living monument to kindness and joy. Now, when I glance his gorgeous prose, the ecstatic visions of Kerouac seem less like a beautiful prelude to a life I'm meant to live and more like an elegiac psalm to an evaporating world. It's the same bittersweet feeling I would get if I were to open up a pack of Topps 1983 Baseball Cards: It used to be Magic, but you can't go home again..