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Kerouac’s Last Stand

Kerouac’s Last Stand — I thought of Kerouac’s last stand today as I picked beet greens on the farm. I thought of Kerouac’s last stand last night when I realized that I was too tired from a long day of work to type any more words. I think of Kerouac’s last stand as I look [...]

Kerouac’s Last Stand —

I thought of Kerouac’s last stand today as I picked beet greens on the farm.

I thought of Kerouac’s last stand last night when I realized that I was too tired from a long day of work to type any more words.

I think of Kerouac’s last stand as I look forward at a Path that has gotten far more challenging than my usual traveler’s fare:

“Spiderwebs inside of spiderwebs inside of spiderwebs.”

I now know the process by which kids give up what they love to become adults. Growing up, perhaps, is a process of gradually disposing of “want tos” and replacing them with “have tos.”

I have never been very savvy at letting my “want tos” go unrequited. But I am just about to step out onto what may become my most challenging road yet.

I think now of Kerouac’s last stand:

After the journey’s were done, and the books written, Jack Kerouac — perhaps in a final attempt to ward off ending his days as a couch sitting drunk — packed up his rucksack for one last hitchhiking journey across the USA. He went out for one last stand.

He ended up standing out in the rain on the side of the highway for 5 hours without getting a ride.

It was over.

I try to stave off these thoughts as I look at the complicated road that I am just beginning to trod. A wife, family, kid, travel, website, writing, journalism.

Can I keep this all together? Can I keep this package in a bunch without allowing any of it to fall back and be left behind?

Perhaps I can. Just as long as I stand in the rain for as long as it takes to hitch a ride.

A car will stop.

Filed under: Travel Philosophy

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 88 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3411 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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7 comments… add one

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  • Anonymous July 17, 2009, 4:59 pm

    If not, gimme’ a call and I’d come pick you up.

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    • admin July 17, 2009, 6:05 pm

      Sure thing, man.

      Thanks.

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  • Bob L July 18, 2009, 2:39 pm

    Growing up does not have to suck. Too many people forget about the growing part of growing up and just stop growing.

    BUT, part of growing up is the have to’s. The trick is to try to turn the have to’s into want to’s without forgetting the previous want to’s.

    As you have said, people in their teens are not the same as their 20’s or 30’s or…. Desires change or are reformed. Things that were boring become fulfilling. Things that were exciting lose their luster. Things change. You just have to make sure you are the one that is making the changes, and that they are not chosen for you. Sometimes we are given a path that we must follow, but that does not mean you must walk that path with your head down because it was not the path that you wanted. You could dance instead. Or sing. Certainly you must smile. Life sometimes throws us curve balls. A great job that you find yourself stuck in because it is too comfortable is a great example. You can let it consume you such that you go to work each day as an automaton, or you can make the best of it, enjoy the benefits and enjoy life. Maybe a different life than if you went off to live on the road, but not a bad life.

    Some people start a family, and let it consume them. They get the big house and two cars and work in a job they hate just to afford them. Eventually, they start to hate the things they are truly working for, their family. They start to miss the life they had before the family, or the life they imagined they would live. Never mind that they would probably have hated that life too. They need to find the good in the life they have, or change it for the better.

    Your life WILL change, as did Kerouac’s. The problem is, Kerouac seemed to want everything to stay the same, and when it did not, he was unhappy. He could have, instead, realized that things were changed, and make the best of them.

    My father may be a good example. Like most men, he was a fun loving young guy without direction. He did not plan on a house and family, although I am sure he realized it was expected of him. He did marry, and built a house, and raised a family. In the end, what kept him going was his pride in his family and children (and grandchildren, and great-grand-daughter) and the house he built, not to mention his life as a sheet metal worker. Often what a young man does not desire becomes an old mans greatest pride.

    There is a line from some goofy sci-fi comedy with Tim Allen. “Never give up, Never surrender”. These are two different actions, neither of which we should do, but many people do in their lives.

    Walk slow, but keep walking.

    Bob L

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    • admin July 20, 2009, 12:09 pm

      Bob,

      I think you tied this entry up when you said, “The problem is, Kerouac seemed to want everything to stay the same, and when it did not, he was unhappy. He could have, instead, realized that things were changed, and make the best of them.”

      Very right on. To dwell about the past is to miss the present.

      We live in a funny society in America. We are all gung ho about growing up to perhaps 35 years old . . . when you are suppose to have already collected an education, a steady job, a house, a partner, kids . . . and everything in our upbringing is set up for the time when you “make your own life” . . . but after this our ideas and models for development sort of plateaus . . . there does not seem to be another model for continuous development throughout old age.

      I think a lot of people become depressed when they think that they have already “done” their life and cannot find much to build for the future.

      You are right on . . . growing up does not mean that you have to stop growing.

      You CAN go all the way with life.

      Thanks for the wise words.

      Walk Slow,

      Wade

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  • Scalea Girls August 12, 2009, 8:50 am

    I saw a documentary yesterday about psichological growing…it claims in modern times we are too scared to grow, and biological creatures (humans, plants, animals) can’t grow and defend themself in the same moment…

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  • Bob L August 12, 2009, 7:40 pm

    Scalea Girls, interesting viewpoint. Depends, I suppose, on what is called growing. If you look at growing from a Darwin point of view (evolution) then the scarier the times the more *growing* or changing that happens. In a benign environment, little changes, everything is status quo. When the environment becomes difficult enough that *change or die* becomes a realistic statement, then real evolution can happen. Defending ones self IS how we grow, or change. It is when things are easy that things (and people) begin to grow mold.

    Now, change, and growth and evolution does not mean that it is necessarily in a good direction.

    Now, you said we are biological creatures. That we are. But we are also psychological creatures. Although I would agree with my above statements about growth fitting in with psychological growth, I am thinking that the tougher things are, the more negative the growth will be, although that depends on what you consider to be negative. During some of the hardest times in history, some people have shown some of the best attributes humans can have, while in parallel, there are those that have shown the worst. Maybe it is, after all, like evolution. Changing, or adverse environments will cause the most changes in the subject, and some will survive and some will not. Or maybe it is more that the certain characteristics will become more visible during these situations and those that are most suitable for the environment will be the ones that survive. Again, being suitable may not be a good thing.

    Or maybe I just had another day with TOO much coffee.

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