Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Holy Contour of Life

The boots at left, 43 year-old Fabiano Calzaturificio, have stepped on every continent with the exception of Antarctica. I got them when I was starting out to conquer the world because (no kidding) Jack Kerouac said they were the ones to get.

I don't remember what I paid for them, but they were the second best investment I ever made. They were made in Italy (actually by Scarpa) for a bootmaker from Boston, and unfortunately, the firm went out of business.

The boots in the center are Vasque Skywalkers. I bought them in 2002, at Kaplan's in San Francisco, where I bought the Fabianos in 1966. They were made in China, and are about to give out.

The boots on the right are Alico, handmade in a small factory in the Italian Alps, and I got them yesterday. Not the best, but these are as close as you can come to the Fabianos, made on hand-carved wooden lasts, with the Norwegian welt.(*) They will probably go out of business pretty soon. China wants to control all the shoes and boots in the world (did you know there are "shoe cities" in China?)

What has this got to do with anything?

Well, these boots are the seasons. I got the first ones when I was young, and careful. I got the next ones when I was middle-aged, and careless. I got the remaining ones when I was old, so they are my last pair of boots. The carefulness of youth is still making its result felt in numerous ways, the carelessness of middle-age is like the kapok trees, and I am breaking in the new boots by walking up and down the road before I try to walk up the mountain.

You know... the old first there is, then there isn't, then there is thingamajig.

"The Holy Contour of Life," is taken from Kerouac's Belief and Technique for Modern Prose: number twenty, to be exact, "Believe in the holy contour of life." I do not know what the hell it means, but it sounds like it could mean anything good about anything at all, even a post about boots old and new, which this isn't.

Actually, this is a post about encouraging elephant journal.

Since modern literary education in America has miserably failed at least two entire generations, I should probably point out that Jack Kerouac was a great writer who died of alcohol-related problems on October 21, 1969. He was a friend of mine when I was young, and I tended to relate to him more as a drunk than a writer. While he was still alive, I read everything he ever wrote, but we didn't talk about that. Mostly, we talked about living in Florida, camping down around Longboat Key, camping in general, woman trouble, women in general, religion, and politics. After he died, I never could bring myself to read a single word of his struggle to catch the flow.

His skeleton is rattling around today, because somebody has pointed out to me, and I have been reading that, and some of their magazines. They are in Boulder, where I used to live, and where at Naropa University they have the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, which is the finest honor any writer ever had, although the Nobel Prize for Literature pays more.

The thought occurred to me that if elephant journal paid more attention to literature, and less attention to boots, they might really have something. But, maybe the juxtaposition of Jack and what we read today is like the juxtaposition of Eva Cassidy and what we hear today. Both were brilliant. Both have worn their last pair of boots and walked off the stage.

Still, the future always holds promise even if it doesn't hold hands, and I have a suspicion that a mighty voice is about to break loose somewhere, somehow, someplace, and it is up to mediums like elephant journal to go searching for that voice, and give it a place of nurture, even though it whispers and does not shout.

The shouting comes later, with exuberant confidence, like sure-footed walking on broken trails, with boots old and new, walking the valleys and the ridges along the holy contour of life.

My very best wishes for the continued travels of elephant journal.

(*) The best are probably Peter Limmer customs, but I may not live long enough to actually have them made. If you are twenty something, order now for delivery when you are thirty something.

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5 reader comments:

Cliff said...

Hi. I have loved elephant. I really liked it more when I could hold it in my hands, feel the paper and turn the pages. I guess we are in a world where that experience may become rarer and rarer. You understand.

I love my Digital Tibetan Buddhist Altar too! Thank you very much. Anything tangible, paper and page-wise, coming from you soon?

All the best!

Cliff in Cleveland

TENPA said...

Thank you for your comments. I have been thinking about starting to write again. I just have to find a publisher with courage.

Anonymous said...

Elephant is pretentious bullshit.

Anonymous said...

Rinpoche, why do you waste your time on these artsy-fartsy, totally self-absorbed, spiritual materialists? They are riding eco to get free product samples and everybody knows it. Elephant is dead as Saturday Night Live. They masquerade busting out on a paper edition by saying they went green? What a joke! Good riddance.

TENPA said...

You miss the point. I like what they are trying to do. You have to accept the realities of publishing.