Friday, April 2, 2010

turn on tune in drop out

I want to work in revelations, not just spin silly tales for money. I want to fish as deep down as possible into my own subconscious in the belief that once that far down, everyone will understand because they are the same that far down.

Jack Kerouac

I've really been trying to figure out what I want to do with my life. Putting in some serious thought. I had to facilitate a symposium for the program that I'm in, and it was intimidatingly professional. In the middle of the dry cleaned button-downs and suits I found someone who basically did with his life what I aspire to do with mine. That was reassuring. He is now retired, but was a journalist who traveled all over the world doing foreign correspondence.

He told me that he had constantly felt restless in one place, and wanted to experience things for himself. Him and his friends wondered if getting drunk in Moscow would be more satisfying than in the United States. It sounded like they caused quite a ruckus behind the Iron Curtain. He wanted to experience every nuance of life and existence in a different context. I could basically feel the wonderlust just talking to him. I loved hearing crazy stories of getting detained by the KGB. He reminded me of Jack Kerouac. A lot of people and events remind me of Jack Kerouac, though, because I imagine I am a little obsessed. He said that he had confidence I would figure everything out, and he felt like he was talking to himself 30 years ago.

Is not this the true romantic feeling - not to desire to escape life, but to prevent life from escaping you?
Tom Wolfe

The event was interesting and important-seeming (chock full of distinguished alum and 'keynote speakers'), but afterward I needed to get away from structured bureaucracy. And my feet really hurt from my shoes. Really bad. I had gotten an email from my adviser about a writer visiting campus for a lecture he was giving. Typically those emails are about little speeches that academics make in lecture halls that you can attend. In this email the writer, Greg Lindsay, proposed meeting for drinks at a bar on Green Street. This sounded promising immediately, and in the enterprising spirit of the day I decided to go. My instincts turned out to be correct!

At one point in our discussion Lindsay compared himself to Tom Wolfe. I knew then that the rest of the night would be pretty interesting. It was nice to drink off the feeling of inadequacy that had burgeoned while listening to the lectures at the symposium gallivanting around campus with an esteemed writer. I loved listening to stories about the Manhattan power elite and ending up in cabs with David Bowie as much as hearing about KGB detainment. At one point I asked him if he ever found the NYC party circuit to be vapid and draining. He said he did, but he'd had a lot of fun getting to that point. I can imagine! While he told stories I was thinking of the smoke-filled bars they probably unfolded in. My imagination got a bit carried away and I think what I was imagining was more in tone with a speakeasy in the 1920s than a swanky Manhattan event full of socialites and entrepreneurs and artists.

I am fascinated by people who run with an idea or a passion and make it their livelihood. I love hearing stories of how you can make your own path through life. How the world is riddled through and criss-crossed with people making new trails all the time. People who defy the status quo. What a day!

They're just beginning to open the doors in their minds.
Tom Wolfe

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