Columns > Published on June 11th, 2015

Advice From A Literary Character: Dean Moriarty

When it comes to life’s big questions, we rely on many different people for advice: family, friends, mentors, loved ones, and sometimes even strangers. How would our favorite literary characters answer these same questions? How would their words compare to the words of those we trust the most?

Let’s find out!

For LitReactor’s first round of Advice From A Literary Character, Dean Moriarty from Jack Kerouac’s On the Road is here to answer your questions.

1. What is the meaning of life?

The meaning of life is not a thing you can name, but you can sure feel it driving 100 miles per hour, heading east or west, north or south, heading anywhere. You can feel it in every smiling girl you meet, in the footsteps of your friends, in the nights you can't sleep because you don't want to. It’s your heartbeat when you slow down just enough to listen to it, but not for too long. Not for too long!

I believe if we could close our eyes and for once, just once, stop thinking about the meaning of life, the meaning would be there in that moment.

If you think too hard on the meaning of life it will drive you mad — you'll think about it anyway. You'll go mad.

Really, honestly, I believe if we could close our eyes and for once, just once, stop thinking about the meaning of life, the meaning would be there in that moment. It’s been there all along.

2. What happens when we die?

Well, I don't know. I don't know! I hope it's just like life, this crazed, fast life, but that it burns brighter, brighter! I want to die in a flash and ride that flash forever.

Onward! And if it's nothing, if it's blackness, more reason to go, go, go and get where we're going, wherever that is, even if it's nowhere. Nothing matters when we die except how we lived. So live! Death really doesn’t matter.

3. How do I avoid pain?

You just gotta be the one that runs faster! Hah!

If you want me to be serious though, and I think you do (this is a serious, serious question!) don’t go looking to avoid pain. Stare that pain in the eye because it’s the only way you’ll feel absolute euphoria. It’s a balance, my friends! Walk life’s tightrope, and quit being afraid to fall.

4. What's the best way to deal with conflict?

If your pal's got you down, let him know it, then disappear. Time will stretch out between you two like some wild elastic, then band you back together. If he's mad at you, let him go, or do the going for him. Run, run, run! Let time deal with your conflict. You'll snap back, don’t worry about it. If the band breaks, well - ah - em - it wasn't mean to be!

5. How do I know when I've met my soulmate?

Here’s what they never tell you - you may meet three of your soulmates over the course of a night! Now listen, listen! That pretty girl that drives you up the wall and out the door is there by your side, then you see your future wife from across the bar and she's smiling back at you, she knows it, you’ll be together soon…and you're just about to close your eyes when a vision of another soulmate appears, big blue eyes winking at ya. Then you're finally off to your dreams, where even more soulmates are waitin' for ya, man. It's wild, it's wild!

6. How will I know when I’m happy?

When you are happy, truly happy, you’ll be too thrilled to know it. You’ll reflect on it later maybe, sure, but it’ll have already passed you by. Don’t bother waiting around for it to come back! You’ll miss it again and again. You can’t stand back and look at happiness, my friend, you’ll be way too busy living it!

This is a good thing. In fact, it may be the best thing and that’s the surest I have ever been.

7. What's the cure for a broken heart?

Is this a real question? The road! The road. Of course, the road. It’s the cure for many things. You’ll hit the road because of your broken heart and discover all this other hurt you didn’t know you had. Pretty soon, the road will cure that, too!

Don’t wait for your heart to break, just go.

We are honored to have had Dean stop by and give us his take on things.

What questions would you like your favorite literary characters to answer? Who would you like to hear from?

About the author

Christine J. Schmidt is a writer originally from New Jersey. After receiving her BFA in Dramatic Writing from SUNY Purchase, she worked at Seattle Repertory Theatre as their artistic literary intern. She recently left Brooklyn, where she was a bookseller and events host at WORD, to reside in Los Angeles. She has previously written for New York Theatre Review, and her plays have been read and produced at theaters in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Washington. Coffee is her favorite thing.

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