That Kerouac Quote

I love reading. I love books and brilliant articles that reveal lives and circumstances I’ve never considered. I love learning and discovering the reaches of the infinite world and other writers’ imaginations.

I had a little (and brief) fling with the beatnik generation in college. Of course I’ve since forgotten everything I read (as I tend to do). Yet the works I read still sit in a dear place in my heart.

So when a friend recently posted an inspiring Jack Kerouac quote, I wanted to seize it and use it as my life motto.

“Be in love with your life. Every detail of it.”

If you’re in love with your life, you don’t care what anyone else thinks. You’re not worried about judgement of your choices. You’re not worried that it’s less than perfect. When you’re in love with it, your life – flaws and all – is the bee’s knees. It’s aces, tops, the apple of your eye. Nothing could be better and nowhere is the grass greener. It’s your one and only life. YES!

I went to Pinterest to hunt down a pretty print to hang on a wall somewhere. My first piece of inspirational art! But… Pinterest showed me a second version of the quote, too:

“Be in love with your life. Every minute of it.”

I mean… I can’t model my life on a phony quote.

A brief search for the quote’s original source was fruitless. Yet I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Quite frankly, I prefer the “every detail” version. I can’t love the minute when both of my kids are screaming and the baby has dipped his heel in his poopy diaper while trying to escape the change. I CAN love the retrospective hilarity of that moment, the fact that I get to be home with my kids, that the big one is a obsessed with trains and space and Transformers, that the baby has blue eyes and a sweet smile, that our home is lovely and in England and filled with the life that is ours. The details.

I needed to find the source of that quote.

Well. The closest I found is in Kerouac’s Belief & Technique for Modern Prose:

“4. Be in love with yr life”

That was it.

While I was disappointed the “detail” element isn’t there, I think I prefer this direct simplicity. Discovering this list, though. Wow! There’s so much more to take away to encourage any of us who are blogging (or writing or creating). What a surprise! A few points that resonated:

13. Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition

17. Write in recollection and amazement for yourself

25. Write for the world to read and see yr exact pictures of it

And so I’ll keep at it. (I will also continue to start sentences with conjunctions.)

What do you think? Do you have a motto you live by? I’d love to hear it!

4 thoughts on “That Kerouac Quote

  1. I stumbled across your blog tonight as part of my own effort to make sure I wasn’t modeling my life on that same potentially phony quote. (Except that I saw the Pinterest version first so that’s the one that feels right to me.) It does seem to be rather unverifiable though, doesn’t it? I suppose I’ll just have to love the mystery of it as well.

  2. I am grateful to folks like you who take the time and energy to research these quotes for the rest of us. There are so many that either were never said, or are ascribed to the wrong person. Nice to know Jack Kerouac actually said something very similar! I agree, I like the simplicity of what you’ve found here.

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