Jack Kerouac Fitness

When you’re focused on a thought, an idea, a notion, it seems to pop up everywhere. I’ve read Dharma Bums more times than I remembered to count, and only the last time did a certain passage about health & well-being jump out at me.

Jack Kerouac is writing about an encounter with an idealistic hobo, former-Marine from Patterson, NJ:

“I used to have arthritis, you know, I was in the hospital for years. I found  way to cure it and then I hit the road and I have been on it ever since.” 

“How’d you cure your arthritis? I got thrombophlebitis* myself.” 

“You do? Well, this’ll work for you, too. Just stand on your head three minutes a day, or maybe five minutes. Every morning when I get up, whether it’s in a river bottom or right on a train that’s rolling along, I put a little mat on the floor and I stand on my head and I count to five hundred . . . Just do that every day and your phlebitis will go away like my arthritis did. I’m forty, you know. And, before you go to bed at night, have hot milk and honey. 

“Okay.” I vowed to take his advice because he was Buddha. The result was that in about three months my phlebitis disappeared completely, and didn’t show up ever again, which is amazing.” 

Dharma Bums
pg. 118 

(* Thrombophelitis is a circulation disorder, usually caused by a blood clot)

Headstands. Inversion Therapy.

Beat Generation fitness guru, Jack Kerouac?

Not hardly, but the passage is a good reminder that when we tune in to focus on some aspect of our lives, more information than we could possibly process makes itself available to us. The trick is to learn how to take what is useful, discard what is useless, and rock & roll with the rest.

Besides, handstands are a pretty useful exercise for any number of reasons. Maybe the best reason to practice headstands or handstands is to remember what it’s like to be younger, and have fun with whatever you’re doing. The world is pretty hard to take seriously when it is intentionally upside down.



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