In the midst of three other books, I am reading Big Sur.
There are two reasons I have not devoted all of my attention to this book: 1. I am flaky like that and 2. It’s a really intense book, detailing Jack Kerouac’s descent into alcoholic madness. Not for the faint of heart. I wasn’t sure what I was getting into when I first decided to read it. I saw it at Powell’s and I thought, “Well, I have been reading a lot of Kerouac lately, so why not?” From page 1, I could feel a sense of building dread. Maybe Kerouac is making it very obvious, or perhaps I’m just well versed in self-destruction.
A few days ago I read a chapter wherein Evelyn, wife of Cody (thinly veiled Neal Cassady), says that she knows her true destiny is to be with Jack. However, she knows that it is her karmic duty to accompany Cody through this life, somehow saving him. She believes that she and Jack will be together in the next life. According to Jack:
“I shudder sometimes to think of all that stellar mystery of how she IS going to get me in a future lifetime, wow–And I seriously do believe that will be my salvation, too. A long way to go.”
Cody is a pretty awful husband. Crazy, in and out of jail, disappearing for weeks and months, cheating on her all over the place. Being cosmically appointed to care for him must be no great joy. But I guess that is the beauty of faith…believing in something can make anything more bearable. Add a dash of karmic purpose, and suddenly even the worst trials and tribulations gain a nearly glamorous sense of power.
So that made me think? What do I believe in? I mean, it can’t just be ghosts or the Loch Ness Monster (though I must admit that I believe in the former and I am ambivalent regarding the latter)…it has to be something to assuage the greatest impatience and frustration. Something to transform even the most bitter to the sweetest…
I started making a list….
Astrology–okay, I more than 50 percent believe in this (hence my tendency to say annoying things like, “Oh, yeah…that’s because you are a Virgo” and “Oh, a Scorpio…watch out!”). It’s fun and eerily coincidental. Furthermore, it provides hours of conversation between me and Janelle. But…I’m not going to make any important life decisions based on it. However, I will avoid future romantic relationships with any Pisces. And I will always assume that Scorpios are perverts, unless I am presented with undeniable proof to the contrary.
Buddhism–I have a hard time getting behind all of the reincarnation blahblahblah, even though it appeals to me a lot more than the extreme offerings of heaven and hell. But…I do believe in living a life filled with compassion and treating all sentient beings with respect. So I probably 75 percent believe in this.
Karma–Even though I don’t think a higher power is assigning values (negative and positive) to all of my actions, I do believe that an individual receives what they give. Put a lot of shitty energy into the world through dishonesty and disrespect, and only bad stuff can surround you. If you treat the living things around you (even trees and strangers) with respect and compassion, only good things can happen. It’s all about making your own luck. I 99% believe in karma.
Destiny–Hmmm…I’m not so sure about this. Some people have a calling. Some people belong together. The world is filled with eerie coincidences and ironic outcomes, but I don’t think that any of that is part of a larger map/design. I’ve read to many existentialist novels to believe in destiny in the slightest.
Love–I 100% believe in this. Not just the romantic kind, but also the love I feel for my friends, family, animals, individuals I barely know. My love for books, music, the #1 planet…all of this affects every one of my actions. Sure it’s all in degrees, but love will make me be the best person I can be. And that in turn, makes me happier…even the most painful situation becomes bearable.
Other things/ideas I believe in:
talking to one’s plants will make them grow,
the feline understanding of English is amazingly high,
I am the worst Boggle shaker ever (imagine too many vowels and a dearth of consonants) ,
the magical power of dreams for helping one see the bigger picture,
time is the best avenger,
and singing in the car makes me a better driver.
P.S. Madonna’s “Burning Up” is one of the best songs ever. I played this record in an attempt to cheer up Marlyn tonight, and I think it worked!