The Dharma Bum – ridin’ the rails
As I was driving around in rural Texas a few days ago, I saw a gorgeous brown field with newly made round bales of hay scattered in it. I quickly pulled the car off the road, grabbed the camera and made my way across traffic, through the scrub and up onto some railroad tracks to snap what I thought was going to be a few great pictures. These shots were, to say the least, a disappointment. As I stood there, lamenting the heat, the poor shots and the trek through the brush to get them, I glanced up and down the railroad tracks and was immediately reminded of the beginning of ‘The Dharma Bums” where Ray Smith rides the rails, hobo style, all along the west coast, from Mexico to San Francisco.
I love Jack Kerouac book ‘The Dharma Bums‘! The Dharma Bums stands as one of Kerouac’s most powerful, influential, and bestselling novels. The story focuses on two untrammeled young Americans—mountaineer, poet, and Zen Buddhist Japhy Ryder and Ray Smith, a zestful, innocent writer—whose quest for Truth leads them on a heroic odyssey, from hobo train rides up and down the West coast, marathon parties and poetry jam sessions in San Francisco’s Bohemia to solitude and mountain climbing in the High Sierras to Ray’s sixty-day vigil by himself atop Desolation Peak in Washington State. I’ve read this book several times throughout my life and, while I question Kerouac’s understanding of Buddhism, at least as he portrayed it in the book, I have come to love the story.
So I became fascinated with trying to capture that feeling in some pictures of the tracks.