[Read or travel, either the body or the soul must be on the road.]
If travelling can be seen as an exercise, then reading and travelling fills up the most part of my life when I’m not working. There is a Chinese saying: “our appearance is the mirror of our heart”, regardless of how others disregard their looks, I am someone who will never allow myself to look less than proper, I can be considered somewhat of a dandy in fact. Furthermore, I go by the saying “wisdom in hold; elegance in mould” naturally, readings presents itself as a form of habit and motivation for me.
I used to agree with others that “reading is a personal matter”, I would buy my own books, read it quietly, and feel the different emotions welling within myself. This only changed when I read Lawyer Lin’s (from Zhong Lun Guang Zhou Law Firm) reading reflections that he posting in our chat. I savoured each and every word; I felt enlightened and understood his point of view as if I were in his shoes. It was only then that I realised, writing personal reflections and sharing them will be of good benefit to others; and myself even if it adds nothing to third parties beyond the author and myself. These reflections will be a precious memory for your soul to remember, when your fatigued body is no longer able to explore the world, at least your soul could.
Although, this is a legal “professional platform”, I have decided to share some “light-hearted” reflections on reading. I strongly encourage interested readers to share your own reading reflections with others here.
Without further ado, this piece [On the Road] will be a prologue for many more reading reflections to come.
I have a habit when buying books, which that is to write the location and time when I bought the book, but not for this book (author referring to On the Road). Looking at its publication history, this book is probably from around 2010, the year that I was in a continuous state of confusion. Then, I told myself to read this book several times on the road (no pun intended) while travelling, and I did bought it along with me, however I had never turned its pages, it simply lies at the bottom of my luggage from the start to the end of the trip. However I’ve always kept it in my bag reminding myself “yeah, its there”.
Now (and I believe many others feel the same) life had changed from the passionate and delirious quest for self embodied in Author Rimbaud (and this genius could be young Sal and Dean’s spiritual pillar as well as mine) a life filled with extremities of sensory experience such as love, torment and turmoil, a life whereby one could swallow all sorts of poison with an aloof yet sincere and ardent manner. However life now is just long and boring, filled with minute but mindless details of life, an idle life slow enough to observe a speck of dust slowly floating in the sunray; a life embodied in Marcel Proust’s <? la Recherche du Temps Perdu> (translated as In Search of Lost Time). Much like in the end of the book, whereby Dean read that extraordinary Proust’s book, because at the very end, you and I, all of us, will eventually step into the normal but comforting pace of daily life.
I do not want to talk about this book in terms of “this book describes Americans and their sense of lost after the War, it is a world acclaimed classic in the 60s hippie movement…” this is simply a typical reading reflection moulded by the Gaokao (the notorious Chinese university entrance examination) education, this is also an archetypical Chinese reflection, that has got nothing to do with me, I only focus on myself.
For example the numerous times when Sal and Dean travelled across America (including United States and Mexico), it allowed me to be acquainted with the foreign landmarks and cities of each American city (truth to be told, there were numerous landmarks that I had to 谷歌 Map as I read the book), to the extent that when I watch NBA again, I am completely clear about the different directions the ball flies towards. Also, as I read, I would also think about my own trips that are a mixture of blandness, peculiarity, and even absurdity.
Indeed, on the road, there is alcohol, drugs, and women, stimulating the senses in every way possible, however I side more with Jack London’s “Call of the Wild”. I believe, that everyone needs a call from the wild, and only in the wild would they expose their true self and desires, regardless towards themselves, others, or to God. I also believe, humans are always looking for a spiritual “religion”, and those in the wild have a perfect opportunity to do so. That is another reason why I always travel, of course my travels could not be strictly the same as being on the road, but I try my best to portray myself as a disciple to Mecca, and hopefully I could be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the shore on the other side.
However there is a terrible reality, regardless Sal or Dean, they are on the road without a choice. In the very end of the book, Sal Paradise said, “I really miss Dean Moriarty”, but where is Dean?
Finishing this book, I feel a strong sense of emptiness, just like the feeling of leaving something on the road after a trip but there is simply no energy to go back to search for it. Therefore we can continue with <The Dharm Bums> the sequel to <On the Road>, although knowing that this road will eventually come to an end too, at least I could delay the feeling of loss for a little while more.
May we not stray on the road.