It’s Jack Kerouac’s birthday today. I’ve said before that The Dharma Bums is not only my favorite of his books, it’s responsible for my hippie tendencies. (It’s also his happiest book. His others are hard for me to read because he’s so sad.)

Since it’s the book I know and love best, there’s no surprise that I have Dharma Bums in my head a lot, whether it’s looking at the mountains here and thinking “You know to me a mountain is a Buddha” or remembering this going up a trail in the forest:

We went on, and I was immensely pleased with the way the trail had a kind of immortal look to it, in the early afternoon now, the way the side of the grassy hill seemed to be clouded with ancient gold dust and the bugs flipped over rocks and the wind sighed in shimmering dances over the hot rocks, and the way the trail would suddenly come into a cool shady part with big trees overhead, and here the light deeper.

…it seemed that I had seen the ancient afternoon of that trail, from meadow rocks and lupine posies, to sudden revisits with the roaring stream with its splashed snag bridges and undersea greenness, there was something inexpressibly broken in my heart as though I’d lived before and walked this trail…

The woods do that to you, they always look familiar, long lost, like the face of a long-dead relative, like an old dream, like a piece of forgotten song drifting across the water, most of all like golden eternities of past childhood or past manhood and all the living and the dying and the heartbreak that went on a million years ago and the clouds as they pass overhead seem to testify (by their own lonesome familiarity) to this feeling.