Friday, June 8, 2012

For Ray Bradbury.

“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you're there.

It doesn't matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that's like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.”

When I read that Ray Bradbury passed away earlier this week, I teared up. I know that might sound silly to some of you, but I have a deep connection to some of Bradbury's work. Fahrenheit 451 is definitely one of my favorite books. It inspires me every time I read it, and I cherish my copy from when I was in 7th grade.

The year I was in the 7th grade, my family moved across town, and I went to a new school. It was a bit of a hard time for me, and that year was fraught with difficulties. I had to make new friends, figure out a way to fit in, and learn the ropes of a new school. That year was harder and more emotional when a friend was shot and killed by her brother halfway through the year. We all struggled with it, and as it was my first experience with death, I didn't know how to really handle it.

It was a just a couple weeks later that we were assigned a reading project for English class. I was wandering around the library when my teacher, Mrs. Fitzgerald, stopped me to talk to me about what book I was going to choose. I think she was surprised that I hadn't picked yet, that I was unsure. Truth was that I was still struggling to handle all of the change in my life, and Laura's death was still having a huge impact on me. I remember that we talked for a moment before she told me that she had the perfect book-one that would help me become inspired again. She handed me a copy of Fahrenheit 451.

It might seem like an odd choice, but it was what I needed. Something about Bradbury's book inspired me and helped me come to terms with the idea of life and death, of being born and reborn. I became a girl obsessed-learning more about the power of the phoenix, a symbol Bradbury uses throughout the book. I ended up getting my own copy of the book and reread it often as I grew older, finding more and more to love in it with each read.

Near the end of my college career, we had to develop a unit plan on a book of our choice. I picked Fahrenheit 451. It was a book that I knew I wanted to share with teenagers at some point in my life. It changed me and helped heal me. Seeing it on my shelf reminds me of that.

Bradbury and his work has meant more to me than many of the authors on my shelves. I felt that he spoke to me and helped me understand the importance of leaving behind memories of myself that would make me proud.

I will certainly miss him, but I know that I will be sure to share his stories with students so that they may be as inspired, and saved, as I have been.

“There must be something in books, something we can’t imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there. You don’t stay for nothing."

7 comments:

  1. That was so beautiful. Thank you.

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  2. I'm right there with you. I felt heartbroken when I heard he died. It was hard to explain, but you've put a lot of my feelings into words. Fahrenheit 451 was one of the first books I truly loved. I went on to love his short story collections and his increible ability to write about social issues using science fiction. It makes me sad to know he's gone, but I'm so glad there are new generations out there who have yet to discover his work.

    “We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.”
    ― Ray Bradbury

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  3. Lovely, lovely, lovely. Achingly lovely and so beautifully written.

    I, too, am struggling with his death because he's been such a mentor for me for so many years. The words are still jumbled and rushing forward and clashing, so it may take a few more days to make some sense of it. Meanwhile, I have your writing to read and reread. Thank you.

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  4. You are not the only one who got a bit sentimental over his passing! Great post!

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  5. Bradbury meant so much to so many people. This was fantastic. Thanks a lot.

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  6. What a beautiful quote. I'm almost ashamed to admit that I've never read anything by Ray Bradbury. From the huge outpour of grief that has hit both a lot of book blogs and twitter, I can see that I have to remedy that very soon! His books seem to have influenced a lot of people and the quotes shared after his passing, have all been remarkable and intriguing.

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