I read Fahrenheit 451 too late in life.
It was one of those books I had a vague notion that I should read. But I never read it as a kid or even in my teen years.
I was already in my 20s when I read Fahrenheit 451 for the first time. Fahrenheit 451 is set in a near-future dystopia where books are burned, ideas are oppressed, and dissent is not tolerated. It’s a cautionary tale of Herd mentality run amok, of censorship, and the status quo.
I was stunned.
Not so much by the revolutionary ideas contained in the book, but by the sense that if I had encountered this book earlier in life, it might have set me on a different path.
Like Guy Montag, the book’s hero, I had sleepwalked through life, uncritical of the nonsensical things I was told to do and beliefs I had about living the good life.
Until I/he was forced to wake up.
Ray Bradbury passed away June 6, 2012. He is a literary hero of mine who will be missed.
I don’t imagine that Ray Bradbury would describe himself as an agile person, but I am struck by how many Ray Bradbury quotes resonate with what we’re doing here on Agile Lifestyle.
Here are 14 Ray Bradbury quotes on living the agile life:
On taking action:
Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things.
On fear of failure and rejection:
I have several walls in several rooms of my house covered with the snowstorm of rejections, but they didn’t realize what a strong person I was; I persevered and wrote a thousand more dreadful short stories, which were rejected in turn. Then, during the late forties, I actually began to sell short stories and accomplished some sort of deliverance from snowstorms in my fourth decade … The blizzard doesn’t last forever; it just seems so.
On getting out of your comfort zone:
“We need not to be let alone. We need to be really bothered once in a while.”
— Guy Montag in Fahrenheit 451.
On pursuing an unconventional education:
I spent three days a week for 10 years educating myself in the public library, and it’s better than college. People should educate themselves – you can get a complete education for no money. At the end of 10 years, I had read every book in the library and I’d written a thousand stories.
On finding the work you were meant to do:
I want your loves to be multiple. I don’t want you to be a snob about anything. Anything you love, you do it. It’s got to be with a great sense of fun. Writing is not a serious business. It’s a joy and a celebration. You should be having fun with it. Ignore the authors who say ‘Oh, my God, what word? Oh, Jesus Christ…,’ you know. Now, to hell with that. It’s not work. If it’s work, stop and do something else.
On work-life balance:
I’ve never worked a day in my life. I’ve never worked a day in my life. The joy of writing has propelled me from day to day and year to year.
On reinventing yourself:
Every morning I jump out of bed and step on a landmine. The landmine is me. After the explosion, I spent the rest of the day putting the pieces together.
The best scientist is open to experience and begins with romance— the idea that anything is possible.
Sometimes you just have to jump out the window and grow wings on the way down.
On getting to done:
You feed yourself. Make sure you have all the information, whether it’s aesthetic, scientific, mathematical, I don’t care what it is. Then you walk away from it and let it ferment. You ignore it and pretend you don’t care. Next thing you know, the answer comes.
On reflection and gratitude:
Anything that puts a sense of the miraculous in you, that we’re living in a very strange element in this time, and we should appreciate the fact that we’re alive. Anything that makes you feel alive is good.
Love what you do and do what you love. Don’t listen to anyone else who tells you not to do it. You do what you want, what you love. Imagination should be the center of your life.
On leaving your legacy:
“Everyone must leave something in the room or left 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.”
— Granger in Fahrenheit 451.
On valuing the time you have on Earth:
Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.
Please share this.
I bet if you’ve never read Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, or The Illustrated Man, you’ve probably encountered his fantastic short stories like “The Veldt” or “All Summer in a Day”. They are common reading assignments in school here in the United States.
If you haven’t, then I’d make my way over to Amazon or BN.com and start.
You’re in for a treat.
Image by Will Hart.