I’m going to allow myself a brief digression on the origins of this post and there’s nothing you can do about it (well except click away or skip this section, that is). I am not known to resist the sweet siren song that is Netflix, and on one such evening wherein I succumbed to this temptation I found myself absorbing Big Sur — film adaptation of the eponymous novel by Jack Kerouac.
I must confess that I’m extremely ill-read (and largely ill-informed) when it comes to the Beats, and frankly I never understood what the fuss was about. I flipped through my father’s well-worn copy of On the Road and promptly cast it aside. But Beat literature is not a young person’s game (or rather, not an adolescent’s game — I seem to have always struggled with conceptualizing my own age). I couldn’t understand why anyone wanted to read about a bizarre cast of characters and their strange rovings, nor could I understand why anyone had found it to be so deeply meaningful.
Big Sur relies heavily on readings straight from Kerouac’s novel, overlaying scenes of the California coastline, which is what makes it such an interesting film. And while absorbing these readings, I found that in the midst of my own existential crisis I could finally understand the appeal of Kerouac. So I promptly picked up another well-worn Kerouac novel lifted from my father — The Dharma Bums — and thus this post was born.
Without further ado, for all those wondering and wandering on the meaning of it all, I present these masterful quotes to inspire you to explore:
Hiking – I don’t like either the word or the thing. People ought to saunter in the mountains – not hike! Do you know the origin of that word ‘saunter?’ It’s a beautiful word. Away back in the Middle Ages people used to go on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and when people in the villages through which they passed asked where they were going, they would reply, “A la sainte terre,’ ‘To the Holy Land.’ And so they became known as sainte-terre-ers or saunterers. Now these mountains are our Holy Land, and we ought to saunter through them reverently, not ‘hike’ through them. ― John Muir
For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move. ― Robert Louis Stevenson
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. ― Edward Abbey
One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things. ― Henry Miller
Plunge boldly into the thick of life, and seize it where you will, it is always interesting. ― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
I felt like lying down by the side of the trail and remembering it all. The woods do that to you, they always look familiar, long lost, like the face of a long-dead relative, like an old dream, like a piece of forgotten song drifting across the water, most of all like golden eternities of past childhood or past manhood and all the living and the dying and the heartbreak that went on a million years ago and the clouds as they pass overhead seem to testify (by their own lonesome familiarity) to this feeling. ― Jack Kerouac
Half the fun of the travel is the aesthetic of lostness. ― Ray Bradbury
I long for wildness, a nature which I cannot put my foot through, woods where the wood thrush forever sings, where the hours are early morning ones, and there is dew on the grass, and the day is forever unproved, where I might have a fertile unknown for a soil about me. ― Henry David Thoreau
In wisdom gathered over time I have found that every experience is a form of exploration. ― Ansel Adams
Always do what you are afraid to do. ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
We will not cease from our exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time. ― T.S. Elliot
Travel makes one modest, you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world. — Gustave Flaubert
A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving. – Lao Tzu
It is easy to overlook this thought that life just is. As humans we are inclined to feel that life must have a point. We have plans and aspirations and desires. We want to take constant advantage of the intoxicating existence we’ve been endowed with. But what’s life to a lichen? Yet its impulse to exist, to be , is every bit as strong as ours-arguably even stronger. If I were told that I had to spend decades being a furry growth on a rock in the woods, I believe I would lose the will to go on. Lichens don’t. Like virtually all living things, they will suffer any hardship, endure any insult, for a moment’s additions existence. Life, in short just wants to be. – Bill Bryson
A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions. – Oliver Wendell Holmes
It is not down in any map; true places never are. – Herman Melville
Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home. – Matsuo Basho
For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been and there you will long to return. – Leonardo da Vinci
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. – Mark Twain
The purpose of life is to live it, to taste it, to experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience. – Eleanor Roosevelt