150 Jack Kerouac Quotes on Life, Love, and Travel

Here is a collection of Jack Kerouac quotes that will surely enlighten you in the facets of life, love, and spirituality.

Jean-Louis Lebris de Kerouac will teach you about personal freedom and dreams.

His novels and poetry tackle sexuality, youth, and love that will drive you on the road to self-discovery and self-determination.

He was discussing death and existence while encouraging nihilism in his readers.

Although many mixed reactions in his writings, he imparted a significant contribution to the hippie movement’s rise in the 1960s.

So, if you are an aspiring writer or just curious about the wisdom he carries, be sure to read the entire collection below!

Let’s get started.

And don’t forget to check out these Charles Bukowski quotes.

Best Jack Kerouac Quotes

1. “There was nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep on rolling under the stars.”

2. “Maybe that’s what life is, a wink of the eye and winking stars.”

3. “Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.”

4. “Be in love with your life, every detail of it.”

5. “The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!'”

6. “The only truth is music.”

7. “There was nothing to talk about anymore. The only thing to do was go.”

8. “My fault, my failure, is not in the passions I have, but in my lack of control of them.”

9. “I felt free, and therefore I was free.”

10. “The air was soft, the stars so fine, the promise of every cobbled alley so great that I thought I was in a dream.”

11. “The best teacher is experience and not through someone’s distorted point of view.”

12. “Something great is about to happen to me: I’m about to love somebody very much.”

13. “Live, travel, adventure, bless, and don’t be sorry.”

14. “Happiness consists in realizing it is all a great strange dream.”

15. “Great things are not accomplished by those who yield to trends and fads and popular opinion.”

Jack Kerouac Quotes on Love

16. “Will you love me in December as you do in May?”

17. “We turned at a dozen paces, for love is a duel, and looked at each other for the last time.”

18. “We agreed to love each other madly.”

19. “It’s not that I can’t fall in love. It’s really that I can’t help falling in love with too many things all at once. So, you must understand why I can’t distinguish between what’s platonic and what isn’t because it’s all too much and not enough at the same time.”

20. “A pain stabbed my heart, as it did every time I saw a girl I loved who was going the opposite direction in this too-big world.”

21. “I want her to say I’ll never get rid of her. I want to be chased till eternity, till I catch her.”

22. “Forgive everyone for your own sins and be sure to tell them you love them, which you do.”

23. “As far as I’m concerned, the only thing to do is sit in a room and get drunk.”

24. “Pretty girls make graves.”

25. “Love is all.”

26. “And the story of love is a long sad tale ending in graves.”

Jack Kerouac Quotes From His Best Novels

27. “I woke up as the sun was reddening; and that was the one distinct time in my life, the strangest moment of all, when I didn’t know who I was. I was far away from home, haunted and tired with travel, in a cheap hotel room I’d never seen, hearing the hiss of steam outside, and the creak of the old wood of the hotel, and footsteps upstairs, and all the sad sounds, and I looked at the cracked high ceiling and really didn’t know who I was for about fifteen strange seconds. I wasn’t scared; I was just somebody else, some stranger, and my whole life was a haunted life, the life of a ghost.”

28. “The silence was an intense roar.”

29. “One day, I will find the right words, and they will be simple.”

30. “I like too many things and get all confused and hung-up running from one falling star to another ’till I drop. This is the night, what it does to you. I had nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion.”

31. “They have worries, they’re counting the miles, they’re thinking about where to sleep tonight, how much money for gas, the weather, how they’ll get there, and all the time they’ll get there anyway, you see.”

32. “We lay on our backs, looking at the ceiling and wondering what God had wrought when He made life so sad.”

33. “Things are so hard to figure out when you live from day to day in this feverish and silly world.”

34. “I just won’t sleep, I decided. There were so many other interesting things to do.”

35. “I was halfway across America, at the dividing line between the East of my youth and the West of my future.”

36. “Sure baby, mañana. It was always mañana. For the next few weeks, that was all I heard—mañana, a lovely word and one that probably means heaven.”

37. “I like it because it’s ugly. All his life was in that line.”

Motivational Jack Kerouac Quotes

38. “Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.”

39. “My whole wretched life swam before my weary eyes, and I realized no matter what you do, it’s bound to be a waste of time in the end, so you might as well go mad.”

40. “I saw that my life was a vast glowing empty page, and I could do anything I wanted.”

41. “On soft Spring nights, I’ll stand in the yard under the stars. Something good will come out of all things yet. And it will be golden and eternal, just like that. There’s no need to say another word.”

42. “But why think about that when all the golden lands ahead of you and all kinds of unforeseen events wait lurking to surprise you and make you glad you’re alive to see?”

43. “I didn’t know what to say. I felt like crying. Goddammit everybody in the world wants an explanation for your acts and for your very being.”

44. “I promise I shall never give up, and that I’ll die yelling and laughing, and that until then I’ll rush around this world I insist is holy and pull at everyone’s lapel and make them confess to me and to all.”

45. “Dreams were so irrational, so gray with a nameless terror and yet, too, so haunting and beautiful.”

46. “All human beings are also dream beings. Dreaming ties all mankind together.”

47. “There are worse things than being mad.”

48. “Roaring dreams take place in a perfectly silent mind. Now that we know this, throw the raft away.”

49. “If moderation is a fault, then indifference is a crime.”

50. “We all must admit that everything is fine and there’s no need in the world to worry, and in fact, we should realize what it would mean to us to understand that we’re not really worried about anything.”

51. “But, outside of being a sweet little girl, she was awfully dumb and capable of doing horrible things.”

52. “I was surprised, as always, by how easy the act of leaving was and how good it felt. The world was suddenly rich with possibility.”

53. “I’m right there, swimming in the river of hardships, but I know how to swim.”

54. “Something that you feel will find its own form.”

55. “We were all delighted; we all realized we were leaving confusion and nonsense behind and performing our one and noble function of the time, move.”

Jack Kerouac Quotes About Life

56. “It all ends in tears anyway.”

57. “What’s in store for me in the direction I don’t take?”

58. “It always makes me proud to love the world somehow; hate’s so easy compared.”

59. “Life must be rich and full of loving; it’s no good otherwise, no good at all, for anyone.”

60. “One man practicing kindness in the wilderness is worth all the temples this world pulls.”

61. “Houses are full of things that gather dust.”

62. “Pain, or love, or danger makes you real again.”

63. “I feel guilty for being a member of the human race.”

64. “A sociable smile is nothing but a mouth full of teeth.”

65. “I hope it is true that a man can die and yet not only live in others but give them life, and not only life but that great consciousness of life.”

66. “My aunt once said that the world would never find peace until men fell at their women’s feet and asked for forgiveness.”

67. “I believed in a good home, in sane and sound living, in good food, good times, work, faith, and hope. I have always believed in these things. It was with some amazement that I realized I was one of the few people in the world who really believed in these things without going around making a dull middle-class philosophy out of it. I was suddenly left with nothing in my hands but a handful of crazy stars.”

68. “My eyes were glued on life, and they were full of tears.”

69. “All of life is a foreign country.”

70. “My manners, abominable at times, can be sweet. As I grew older, I became a drunk. Why? Because I like ecstasy of the mind. I’m a wretch. But I love, love.”

71. “You can’t live in this world, but there’s nowhere else to go.”

72. “Offer them what they secretly want, and they, of course, immediately become panic-stricken.”

73. “Hell! I’m gladpanic stricken I did it. It’s going to be a change. I call this life!”

74. “I don’t know, I don’t care, and it doesn’t make any difference.”

75. “What difference does it make after all? Anonymity in the world of men is better than fame in heaven, for what’s heaven? What’s earth? All in the mind.”

76. “I realized these were all the snapshots which our children would look at someday with wonder, thinking their parents had lived smooth, well-ordered lives and got up in the morning to walk proudly on the sidewalks of life, never dreaming the raggedy madness and riot of our actual lives, our actual night, the hell of it, the senseless emptiness.”

77. “He saw that all the struggles of life were incessant, laborious, painful, that nothing was done quickly, without labor, that it had to undergo a thousand fondlings, revisings, moldings, addings, removings, graftings, tearings, correctings, smoothings, rebuildings, reconsiderings, nailings, tackings, chippings, hammerings, hoistings, connectings, all the poor fumbling uncertain incompletions of human endeavor. They went on forever and were forever incomplete, far from perfect, refined, or smooth, full of terrible memories of failure and fears of failure, yet, in the way of things, somehow noble, complete, and shining in the end.”

78. “Isn’t it true that you start your life as a sweet child, believing in everything under your father’s roof? Then comes the day of the Laodiceans, when you know you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, and with the visage of a gruesome grieving ghost, you go shuddering through nightmare life.”

79. “And nobody knows what’s going to happen to anybody besides the forlorn rags of growing old.”

Jack Kerouac Quotes on Nature

80. “I felt like lying down by the side of the trail and remembering it all. The woods do that to you; they always look familiar, long lost, like the face of a long-dead relative, like an old dream, like a piece of forgotten song drifting across the water, most of all like golden eternities of past childhood or past manhood and all the living and the dying and the heartbreak that went on a million years ago and the clouds as they pass overhead seem to testify by their own lonesome familiarity to this feeling.”

81. “Beautiful insane in the rain.”

82. “Soon it got dusk, a grapy dusk, a purple dusk over tangerine groves and long melon fields; the sun the color of pressed grapes, slashed with burgundy red, the fields the color of love and Spanish mysteries.”

83. “My witness is the empty sky.”

84. “For the first time in my life, the weather was not something that touched me, that caressed me, froze or sweated me, but became me.”

85. “Sweet life continues in the breeze, in the golden fields.”

86. “Let nature do the freezing and frightening and isolating in this world. Let men work and love and fight it off.”

87. “And when the fog’s over, and the stars and the moon come out at night, it’ll be a beautiful sight.”

88. “Bee, why are you staring at me? I am not a flower?”

89. “It was a rainy night. It was the myth of a rainy night.”

90. “My shoes are clean from walking in the rain.”

Jack Kerouac Quotes on Buddhism

91. “Down on the lake, rosy reflections of celestial vapor appeared. God, I love you and looked at the sky and really meant it. I have fallen in love with you, God. Take care of us all, one way or the other. To the children and the innocent, it’s all the same.”

92. “Finding Nirvana is like locating silence.”

93. “The closer you get to real matter, rock air, fire and wood, boy, the more spiritual the world is.”

94. “Let the mind beware, that though the flesh be bugged, the circumstances of existence are pretty glorious.”

95. “The Catholic Church is a weird church. Much mysticism is sown broad spread from its ritual mysteries till it extends into the very lives of its constituents and parishioners.”

96. “If you own a rug, you own too much.”

97. “Don’t touch me. I’m full of snakes.”

98. “All this comes back to me, then goes again, and comes back again, then goes again, and I don’t care, it still belongs to me.”

99. “I believe in order, tenderness, and piety.”

100. “The dream is already ended, and we’re already awake in the golden eternity.”

101. “Everything fell apart in me. How are things with you?”

102. “Everything belongs to me because I am poor.”

103. “And don’t you know that God is Pooh Bear?”

104. “They build their own Hells.”

105. “Boys and girls in America have such a sad time together; sophistication demands that they submit to sex immediately without proper preliminary talk. Not courting talk, real straight talk about souls, for life, is holy, and every moment is precious.”

106. “Don’t tell them too much about your soul. They’re waiting for just that.”

107. “It is possible for the human spirit to win after all.”

108. “Every night, I still ask the Lord, why? And haven’t heard a decent answer yet.”

Jack Kerouac Quotes on Travel

109. “Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.”

110. “Paris is a woman, but London is an independent man puffing his pipe in a pub.”

111. “You guys are going somewhere, or just going?”

112. “The road must eventually lead to the whole world.”

113. “All he needed was a wheel in his hand and four on the road.”

Jack Kerouac Quotes on Freedom

114. “Happy. Just in my swim shorts, barefooted, wild-haired, in the red fire dark, singing, swigging wine, spitting, jumping, running, that’s the way to live. All alone and free in the soft sands of the beach by the sigh of the sea out there, with the Ma-Wink fallopian virgin warm stars reflecting on the outer channel fluid belly waters. And if your cans are red hot and you can’t hold them in your hands, just use good old railroad gloves, that’s all.”

115. “As we crossed the Colorado-Utah border I saw God in the sky in the form of huge gold sunburning clouds above the desert that seemed to point a finger at me and say, pass here and go on, you’re on the road to heaven.”

116. “Ah, life is a gate, a way, a path, to Paradise anyway, why not live for fun and joy and love or some sort of girl by a fireside, why not go to your desire and laugh.”

117. “When you’ve understood this scripture, throw it away. If you can’t understand this scripture, throw it away. I insist on your freedom.”

118. “Better to sleep in an uncomfortable bed free than sleep in a comfortable bed unfree.”

119. “What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people, and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? It’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s goodbye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.”

120. “No man should go through life without once experiencing healthy, even bored solitude in the wilderness, finding himself depending solely on himself and thereby learning his true and hidden strength.”

121. “I’d rather hop freights around the country and cook my food out of tin cans over wood fires than be rich and have a home or work.”

122. “Ah, it was a fine night, a warm night, a wine-drinking night, a moony night, and a night to hug your girl and talk and spit and be heaven going.”

123. “The details are the life of it. I insist, say everything on your mind, don’t hold back, don’t analyze or anything as you go along, say it out.”

124. “Avoid the world. It’s just a lot of dust and drag and means nothing in the end.”

125. “Colleges being nothing but grooming schools for the middle-class non-identity which usually finds its perfect expression on the outskirts of the campus in rows of well to do houses with lawns and television sets in each living room with everybody looking at the same thing and thinking the same thing at the same time while the Japhies of the world go prowling in the wilderness to hear the voice crying in the wilderness, to find the ecstasy of the stars, to find the dark, mysterious secret of the origin of faceless wonderless crapulous civilization.”

Jack Kerouac Quotes on Writing

126. “I’m going to marry my novels and have little short stories for children.”

127. “So, therefore, I dedicate myself to my art, my sleep, my dreams, my labors, my sufferances, my loneliness, my unique madness, my endless absorption and hunger because I cannot dedicate myself to any fellow being.”

128. “The page is long, blank, and full of truth. When I am through with it, it shall probably be long, full, and empty with words.”

129. “If critics say your work stinks, it’s because they want it to stink, and they can make it stink by scaring you into conformity with their comfortable little standards. Standards so low that they can no longer be considered ‘dangerous’ but set in place in their compartmental understandings.”

130. “A scene should be selected by the writer for the hauntedness of mind interest. If you’re not haunted by something, as by a dream, a vision, or a memory, which are involuntary, you’re not interested or even involved.”

131. “It is not my fault that certain so-called bohemian elements have found in my writings something to hang their peculiar beatnik theories on.”

132. “It’s hard to write haiku. I write long, silly Indian poems.”

133. “I made myself famous by writing ‘songs’ and lyrics about the beauty of the things I did and ugliness, too.”

134. “Symbolism is alright in ‘fiction,’ but I tell true-life stories simply about what happened to people I knew.”

135. “Notoriety and public confession in the literary form is a frazzler of the heart you were born with, believe me.”

136. “I really hate to write.”

137. “Cliches are truisms, and all truisms are true.”

138. “Write in recollection and amazement for yourself.”

139. “And I go home having lost her love. And write this book.”

Jack Kerouac Quotes on America

140. “Whither goest thou, America, in thy shiny car in the night?”

141. “This is the story of America. Everybody’s doing what they think they’re supposed to do.”

142. “LA is the loneliest and most brutal of American cities; NY gets god-awful cold in the winter, but there’s a feeling of wacky comradeship somewhere in some streets. LA is a jungle.”

Jack Kerouac Quotes on Death

143. “I’m writing this book because we’re all going to die.”

144. “Accept loss forever.”

145. “Are we fallen angels who didn’t want to believe that nothing is nothing and so were born to lose our loved ones and dear friends one by one and finally our own life, to see it proved?”

146. “The beauty of things must be that they end.”

147. “The one thing that we yearn for in our living days, that makes us sigh and groan and undergo sweet nauseas of all kinds, is the remembrance of some lost bliss that was probably experienced in the womb and can only be reproduced though we hate to admit it in death. But who wants to die?”

148. “It no longer makes me cry and die and tear myself to see her go because everything goes away from me like that now, girls, visions, anything, just in the same way and forever, and I accept lostness forever.”

149. “And I will die, and you will die, and we all will die, and even the stars will fade out one after another in time.”

150. “You kill yourself to get to the grave. Especially you kill yourself to get to the grave before you die; and the name of the grave is ‘success,’ the name of that grave is hullaballou boom boom horseshit.”

Which of These Jack Kerouac Quotes Resonated With Your Authentic Self?

Jack Kerouac started writing in his early 20s and became known for inventing his spontaneous writing style in prose. His works heavily included jazz and Buddhist themes and are considered an immense contribution to shaping American culture and politics in the post-war era. This made him an inspiration to many even up to today.

In an age where the culture of youth is affected by the deepening influence of consumerism, Jack Kerouac’s works remain to awaken authenticity in the vision and consciousness of its readers. He is one of the pioneers of the Beat Generation that carried transgressive narratives and portrayals of nonconformity. Despite the lack of support he received with his novels before his death, he remained a significant impact on artistic icons of the 1960s, including the Beatles and Bob Dylan.

Even in the current age, it is undeniable that the cultural weight of his works transcends in the lives of his readers. He reminds us to live a meaningful life and to pursue its truth.

Did these quotes help you in learning more about life? Let us know your personal favorites and opinions in the comment section below.

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Karen Danao

Hi, I’m Karen, a content curator and writer for Quote Ambition; I’m also a marketing and advertising professional. Beyond the keyboard and the screen, I’m someone who’s out to enjoy every bit that life has to offer!

Poetry, philosophy, history, and movies are all topics I love writing about! However, my true passion is in traveling, photography, and finding common ground to which everyone from different cultures can relate.

With the many places I’ve been to, I found that love, inspiration, and happiness are some things that bring people together. No matter how different we are on the outside, I’m a true believer that our emotions don’t lie; if you dig deep into our psyche, we’re all the same inside.

This belief was further amplified when I joined Quote Ambition. Through the quotes I’ve read, collected, organized, and written about, I found that humans are resilient, creative, and compassionate.

We take from each others’ hearts and courage, and it’s through our individual experiences that we learn how to rise above our challenges and pain. In so many ways, Quote Ambition is a platform that allows people from all over the world to gain the inspiration they need anytime, anywhere!

You can find me on MuckRack and LinkedIn.