Noticing art wherever we go is good for the soul. It’s too easy to overlook the carefully hand-drawn menu board, the geometric crosswalks in Chinatown, the chalk art on sidewalks—and the dinosaur head on the wall by my front door, drawn years ago by my daughter.
The more I notice it, the more I see. And it creates a pause for appreciation in my busy days. Even the dinosaur head. I will never paint over it.
A bit of art in an organic market caught my eye recently, and created a wave of Jack Kerouac gratitude: remembering the positive effect Dharma Bums had on me as a young teenager. It was a long, long time before I went anywhere without that paperback in my bag. At some point I realized that the character of Japhy Ryder was based on the writer Gary Snyder. A couple of years later, visiting my best friend at Reed in Oregon, I saw Synder’s senior thesis in the college library. It was surreal.
If I read Dharma Bums now, I’d probably have to face a heavy dose of sexism (I’m just guessing here, it was written in 1958), especially now that I know more about gender, objectification, and all that jazz.
But back then, my young heart was with those characters in the mountains, and I took those mountains into my heart. I learned a tiny bit about Buddhism. I was glad not to be a nudist. And I fell in love with the West.
I decided that I needed to hike more, live in a cabin, have fires on beaches, not learn too much about Jack Kerouac (lest reality ruin the story), and that someday I’ll name a dog after him.
I’m glad I stopped to notice this art, and remember.