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Jack Kerouac: What’s he have to do with injury law?

Why would a personal injury lawyer blog about Jack Kerouac?

I’ve always been interested in Kerouac because he, too, was born and raised in Lowell, Mass.

And, I promised to blog about interesting things, other than just injury law, so I decided to give it a go.

No doubt, Kerouac was an important and influential writer. He’s known as the father of the “Beat Generation.”

You’ve heard the term “beatnik”. The Beat Generation was the foundation for the hippies and flower-children of the 1960’s. It was characterized by a rejection of mainstream American values.

For Kerouac the Beat Generation referred to those who were beaten-down.

He wrote with free-expression without boundaries. Kerouac had no use for the rules of grammar or punctuation. He followed his own and his writing was musical.

His novel “On The Road” is an American classic, and is largely autobiographical. Kerouac writes spontaneously about his adventures and the people he meets on his travels across the United States and Mexico in the 1940’s.

Kerouac was a free-spirit, and in all respects, a genuine character. He died in his late 40’s from cirrhosis after a lifetime of heavy alcohol consumption.

His writing was unique, and was heavily influenced by Jazz:

” The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn…” from On The Road.

Typical Kerouac…

Love him or hate him, his writings inspired a generation, including Hunter S. Thompson and Ken Kesey.

But one of the things I’d like to talk about is something that pours out of Kerouac’s writings– the importance of living in the present.

I’m not talking about Kerouac as a role-model, because surely he was troubled and over-did it. Rather, I’m talking about his passion and thirst for the present.

Too many people get mired, and bogged down, in the guilt-ridden past. They spend their lives wishing things could have been different, and wasting the present regretting the past. This seems to me to be a very unhealthy.

Likewise, too many people waste the present time worrying about the future. In the meantime, life passes them by.

Surely, it is wise to examine the past. Introspection helps us to learn from the past. After all, one of the great Greek philosophers reminds us that the unexamined life is not worth living.

It is also prudent to plan for the future.

But isn’t one of life’s struggles to live in the present while letting go of the past and trusting the future?

The present is, after all, just that— a present.

Being in the present allows us to put all our time & energy into something we can do something about. It is where we can be productive and where life is happening.

It is necessary to forgive the past, live the present and trust the future.

Yesterday is gone forever, and often times, through hurt or anger, it is more alive to us and everyone around us, than the present. Our past can haunt us and keep us down.

Tomorrow isn’t even here, and yet, it is more alive than the present as a result of fear, worry and anxiety.

May we all learn to live life—- present.

In this vein, I am often times inspired by seriously injured clients who manage to play the cards they have been dealt under very difficult circumstances.

In a sense many injury victims have been beaten-down, and are the kind of underdogs Kerouac would be proud of…

I know I am.

Keep your strength.

Charlie Donahue
injury lawyer
Keene, N.H.

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