Remember the great writers of the most recently retired generation. The Kerouac and Thompson era. Those journalist trippers taking to the road, ( and not always the high one) making a story as they went along. The intricate weavers of an American subculture. Remnants of their lives describe eternal youth and the adventure of virility few in this day and age can experience without some hindrance. Even those books were riddled with hurdles and nay-sayers, but these writers weren’t necessarily writing with the mindset of being the voice of their generation. Instead, these creative minds were merely taking time to observe the human condition from a new perspective; brilliantly commenting on the social climate. They are the record keepers, the traveling linage of pioneers ready for change and personal breakthrough.
The karmic struggle of a writer, is to conveying a worthwhile message. Anyone can write, but few can write well enough to captivate audiences for years to come. Those literary artists stepped beyond the front stoop and took a bounding leap into the unknown. These are the characters found to be the most inspirational.
Who will be the next great writer of my generation? Who will take the open road exposing eyes to things unseen, and yet there all along. Which one will stand up with vigor and enthusiasm for the new paradigm, a master of words and action? Why will masses follow along the journey, what will make it profound and worth recommending to a friend? What is it, as a growing society, that we still need to learn and assimilate? Who is worthy of such a task? Could it be a woman?
Few know author, Joyce Johnson. She wrote the memoir “Minor Characters,” a journey of her evolution as a writer and her love affair with Jack Kerouac. Joyce, was indeed, a minor character in the underground life of some of the most recognized writers of that time. She was amongst one of the few women allowed into the inner sanctum of those well known beatniks, Burroughs and Ginsburg. Her accounts of the time she spent learning, loving, and living in the shadows is poignant and captivating. “Minor Characters,” brings to mind the question as to how; with her writing skills, keen observation, and warrior spirit, she remained overlooked as a complimentary commentary on the day and age. Perhaps we have been so caught up in the taboo stories of fierce and flagrant men; as is common in American culture, that those softer voices have been drowned out. Just as the admired men of her time were openly defiant to the social norm, tagging along the ranks was Joyce. In a time when women were expected to get married, stay home and have babies, Joyce was expanding her mind and sexuality. Her involvement with Kerouac never turned into marriage, and though he was 12 years her senior, he highly respected her as a writer and confidant. Still, few recognize her impact on Kerouacs’ musings… truly a minor character.
I took the leap into the unknown some 10 years ago now. I have traveled the open road, and talked with strangers. I have stayed in the homes of people met merely hours ago, only because it seemed like a good idea at the time. I have observed the bizarre and beautiful array of life bleeding behind closed doors. Empathy is more prevalent in my life due to scenes so heart-wrenching and real, no script could do them justice. Trickles of poetry and sketch have formed from the surreal nature of observational participation. What is it I am destined to convey?
I have been treated with love and disgust, invaded and ignored. The path has been dirty but rewarding. Perhaps the only rewards are stories. Maybe it is the ability to slip into the personal lives of others. To walk, invited into all the swells of struggle that humans desire to share, and yet feel too ashamed or isolated by, to know how to. I have been there in one way or another. Crying with strangers, sleeping with soul mates, laughing at nature, embracing the sunset. The fabric of our lives is a quilt work of words and experience, a colorful co-creation in a constant state of evolution. Each of us, without knowing, are active in our participation. The blessings of momentary meetings, the rush of brilliance shown through Truth. You may not know it, and you may never realize the silent impact you can have on a writer. I could write poems about a certain strangers’ smile. Those things may never be published, the muse may never know they were influential… and yet, words however private spill forth like a fountain of expression. A writer’s “full release.” Just as life force spills forth from every man until his death, words worth writing fill the page of eager hands. Some times in life are less inspirational than others, and still it is only a sign that the wellspring is in the process of change and revitalization.
I am on the adventure, you are each adding to the journey, the goal is unseen. The struggle is to learn how to really LIVE a life of expression and integrity. Each interaction bring to light a new concept or facet of totality and unity within our humanity. May the words of sages and wise women be a spark into the flame of greater creativity in each mortal soul. Eagerly we await a greater acceptance of our bond as humans, our Universal Minds and Hearts. Each time you read words of inspiration, contemplation, revelation and resonance, heed the message, though mass produced, it was written specifically for you at that time. There is no time in Truth, and Truth is timeless. May your soul recognize your journey no matter what time it is.