How To Live A Better Life, According To Ray Bradbury
I first met Ray Bradbury around two years ago, before Madeliene Rose, when I was lost and not in a good way. I learned very quickly that once you meet Bradbury, in his stories or through interviews, it is very hard to forget anything he says.
This is the man who told us to jump off the cliff and build our wings on the way down.
I am still building my wings. I don’t know if I will ever finish doing so, but even though I often find myself on unstable ground, jumping off the cliff for me was far better, than leading a life as others expected of me.
That’s the thing about Bradbury, his words have the power to make you change in ways no other writer can, as do some of the words in his novel, Fahrenheit 451. I avoided reading this book for quite some time. I knew it was a sci-fi piece and I always associate this genre with 11-year-old boys.
I was wrong, of course, because this book can teach us all a lesson in how to live a better life, and the following quotes, taken from the book, are worthy of being taken to heart.
“When people ask your age, he said, always say seventeen and insane.”
Don’t be afraid to be different. To be weird and wonderful. To let your inner darkness shine through with the light, to use it and create something that is hauntingly beautiful. Blending in a crowd is too easy.
“People don’t talk about anything.”
“Oh, they must!”
“No, not anything. They name a lot of cars or clothes or swimming pools mostly, and say how swell! But they all say the same things and nobody says anything different from anyone else.”
Switch off the noise of the world. Learn to do nothing. Look at the stars at night and have breakfast al fresco. Count the freckles on the back of the one you fell in love with, pay attention to what your daydreams are showing you and listen to that tiny inner voice that lies somewhere inside of you. There are “highways full of crowds going somewhere, somewhere, somewhere, nowhere,” Bradbury writes. Just because you are busy, it doesn’t always mean you are going somewhere.
“Let you alone! That’s all very well, but how can I leave myself alone? We need not to be let alone. We need to be really bothered once in a while. How long is it since you were really bothered? About something important, about something real?”
Embrace the feeling of discomfort. The sadness and darkness that we tend to avoid through easy distractions — they will bring light. Being happy all the time is overrated. Only in the darkest of nights, when there are no street lights to distract us, can we really see the alluring shine of the stars.
We are constantly pursuing happiness, are we not? “People want to be happy,” Bradbury writes. “Haven’t you heard it all your life? I want to be happy, people say. Well, aren’t they? Don’t we keep them moving, don’t we give them fun? That’s all we live for, isn’t it? For pleasure, for titillation.”
But we often aren’t happy because we look for happiness in things or people who only give us immediate pleasure. So what is left for us to do but to move away, as Bradbury tells us, from the people who eat “shadows for breakfast and steam for lunch and vapours for supper.”
Story credits: Ray Bradbury’s ‘Fahrenheit 451’ for the quotes and the inspiration.