Novel by Christina Carson
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Quote from Suffer the Little Children:
"Perhaps what we call misfortune is actually a place where the universe interrupts our habits that keep life so limited and small, forcing us to respond differently. The opportunity it offers depends on how hard we work to close the gap or hold it open, allowing ourselves to glimpse realities we've never glimpsed before."
Novel by Christina Carson
Quote from Dying to Know:
"I knew in that moment, we were never meant to surrender our childlike innocence, to trade a world in which we fit like a glove for one that hung on us like ill-fitting hand-me-downs. However, all about us insisted on our membership. And instead of a handshake or a mystical password as entrance into this spurious society, we agreed instead to share a lie, the one that says we’re safe, secure, and fulfilled living this way."
“Sometimes I am stunned at my capacity as a nine-year-old, to understand my entrapment and escape it. How is it that the boy I was in October, 1929, could, because of criticism of his fourth-grade schoolmates, tear up his Buck Rogers comic strips and a month later judge all of his friends idiots and rush back to collecting? Where did the judgment and strength come from? What sort of process did I experience to enable me to say: I am as good as dead. Who is killing me? What do I suffer from? What’s the cure?”
And so began the life of Ray Bradbury, as a writer, one of the best of the lot. I don’t mean he then picked up his pen and started writing. I mean he pledged his heart only to what he loved, and when he later realized writing belonged in that category for him, then he married it too, for better or for worse, in sickness or health, until death do us part.
It seems only fitting that Ray Bradbury would write my favorite book on writing, Zen in the Art of Writing, and not realize until later in life that he was indeed a practitioner of Zen. Not that choosing up sides for some one or the other spiritual philosophy is necessary for a writer. It isn’t. What is necessary is a passing awareness of what is at those philosophical roots—faithfulness to what you sense within you as guidance for everything you encounter, which, of course, includes your writing. Ray Bradbury knew this, and thus knew writing for the gift it is. He submitted:
“So while our art cannot, as we wish it could, save us from wars, privation, envy, greed, old age, or death, it can revitalize us amidst it all.”
More interestingly, he clearly knew what would happen and why if writing wasn’t our daily practice, and with Zen-like explanations, he instructed us:
“But what would happen is that the world would catch up with you and try to sicken you. If you did not write every day, the poisons would accumulate and you would begin to die, or act crazy, or both. You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you. For writing allows just the proper recipes of truth, life, reality as you are able to eat, drink, and digest without hyperventilating and flopping like a dead fish on your bed.”
Because Ray Bradbury knew such profound truths, his life reflected that awareness. He was no paper warrior, but rather lived truly with zest and gusto, as he notes, words that have all but disappeared from our lexicon of life. It was this very verve that filled me the first time I read Zen in the Art of Writing, and I knew, as is often referred to in high spiritual circles, Bradbury was a True Man. His life was a much his work as his writing, for in truth, they were one and the same. I came to Ray Bradbury at a time in my life that was filled with endings, and I read his words as I fashioned a new world for myself, one that included writing; and I was eventually saved.
As writers, we are lovers, healers and recorders of life, no matter our field or frame. And as Ray Bradbury so generously offered:
“Be pragmatic, then. If you’re not happy with the way your writing has gone, you might give my method a try. If you do, I think you might easily find a new definition for Work. And that word is LOVE.”
Ray Bradbury may have physically left us on June 5, 2012, but he is neither dead nor gone. He left his zest, gusto and love imbued in his words, and his words will live forever.