Saturday, August 27, 2011

Day 33 Kerouaction: On Taking Action

I have long held the position that the things we'll really regret in life are the things we didn't do, versus the things we did. I arrived at this conclusion experientially, and don't remember ever reading about the concept. Synchronistically, just yesterday I ran across this quote:

"Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable."
~Sydney J. Harris

The source of this quote is BrainyQuote, which I can't vouch for, and as best I can tell, Sydney J. Harris was a Chicago-based journalist.

In the below passage from On The Road, Jack Kerouac describes his elation at his success in making it to Longmont, Colorado, close to his goal of Denver.

Jack's elation is infectious. "Damn! damn! damn! I'm making it!" Wouldn't you love to have something to yell that about?

William Blake said, "Better to strangle an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires." Goethe said:
Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back-- Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.

If you desire to do something, do it! (I would caution you here to heed the Wiccan motto, "And it harm no one, do what thou wilt.") You have choices. Always. You can't stand your job? Quit. Your husband cheats on you? Leave him. You're tired of shoveling snow where you live? Move.

Here come the excuses. I can hear them now. "I can't quit my job because I have to support my family." My friends, there is only one thing you have to do: die. Everything else is a choice. It would be much more empowering to say, "I am choosing to stay in this job I can't stand because it meets my need to support my family." At least that way you're not a sniveling, disempowered mess. But the bottom line is this: You don't have to stay in your job because you don't have to support your family. That is just a story you are telling yourself. I'm suggesting that it is an unhealthy story. It makes you a pawn. Take your power back! Recognize that you make choices! If you stay in a job you can't stand, it's a choice! You've decided that it's the best strategy for meeting your needs at this point. But it's not a have to.

Are you about to graduate from high school and your parents are making you go to college? Bullshit. No one can make you go to college. No one can make you do anything. If your dream is to put on a rucksack and head out the door for San Francisco with $70 in your pocket (like Beat Hero #1, Travis Tribble), do it!

Have you been writing poetry and everyone tells you it's a waste of time so you hide it away and never share it with others? Post a poem at dVerse Poets on Open Link Night (each Tuesday). You'll get all kinds of feedback from other poets and you can give other poets feedback as well. No one can make you hide your poetry. If your dream is to be a poet, do it!

It's starting to sound like a Nike commercial up in here. Just do it! Take action. Take a risk. Dare to live your dream. What's the worst that can happen? Failure? So what? You'll learn through failure, and you'll have experiences, and meet people, and go places you've never been.

I self-published my Kerouac-obsessed book, The Beat Handbook: 100 Days of Kerouactions because I got about 20 rejections from publishers. It's been an epic fail where selling it is concerned. Would I do it again? Absolutely. Because of writing my book, I've read with David Amram backing me up on keyboards, I've interviewed Jack Kerouac's lover Helen Weaver, I've sent books all over the world, I receive free books in the mail from City Lights for my review, and I routinely meet interesting "mad to live" characters through this blog. I took an action and I'm damn glad I did it, just like Jack in making it to Colorado on his way to Denver.

Whatever your dreams, take action. Now. Then somewhere along your own road you'll be able to yell, "Damn! damn! damn! I'm making it!"



Anonymous said...

Love, love, love this post! Jack would love it to and agree! I often wonder what it would be like to sit in and listen to Jack on poetry night or hang out in a jazz club for an evening! What a thrill! Most of the things I do are things I have always wanted to do like hiking or surfing. What makes it rich is being married to someone who says yes every time I say let's go here or there! We have already been on so many wonderful trips! Life is too short to be caught up in deadlines and contracts! Where is the open road? When do we go? Thanks for the link on poetry. It has been years since I wrote a poem or even read one out loud to an audience.

Rick Dale, author of The Beat Handbook said...

Thanks for the comment. I sure appreciate it!

Gregor Singleton said...

Fantastic stuff!

Rick Dale, author of The Beat Handbook said...

Thanks, GR3G0R!