Sometimes small children have epiphanies they remember for the rest of their lives. Virginia Woolf called such experiences "moments of being" and saw them as the foundations of consciousness. In 1942, Jack recalled one that had occurred just before his seventh birthday on a February day that he considered "the day I was born." On his way home through the snow-covered streets, pulling his sled behind him, he'd "stopped to look at the sad windows of the houses. Why, why? I asked myself, aged six. Pourquoi I might have said, because I was French. At any rate, I wanted to know, and I couldn't quite make it out, and I still cannot make it out, which is in a nutshell the story of the inward war raging inside of me ..."
He would always believe that untila that moment he had been walking along "dead," or, in other words, locked inside of himself. But then "with a sweep of bewilderment I began to live -- a man on the earth, his relation to all things, to his fellow man, to his society, and to the universe."
The Voice Is All: The Lonely Victory of Jack Kerouac, by Joyce Johnson. p. 34