Ray Bradbury’s “Dandelion Wine” on Letting Go of the Past

So I am over halfway through with this and feel it is one of my new favorites.

It’s a fictionalized version of Bradbury’s own childhood in the late  20’s in Illinois. A summer novel with just the right amount of metaphor, humor, philosophy.. You follow the 12-year-old protagonist through one summer of his life in his small town. Much of the message of the book seems to be focused on living in the moment and the happiness to be found right where you are, not looking off somewhere else. Also, the joy in little pleasures and hard work.

I could quote much of it, but I won’t cause that would take away the point of reading the book. I will quote one small part which was personally timely (for me), and possibly changed my life:

[An old widow who saves everything is reminiscing about what her husband had once said to her about her persistent habit of holding on to things]

“It won’t work,” Mr. Bentley continued, sipping his tea. “No matter how you try to be what you once were, you can only be what you are here and now. Time hypnotizes. When you’re nine, you think you’ve always been nine and will always be. When you’re thirty, it seems you’ve always been balanced on that bright rim of middle life. And then when you turn seventy, you are always and forever seventy. You’re in the present. You’re trapped in a young now, or an old now, but there is no other now to be seen.”

    It had been one of the few, but gentle disputes of their quiet marriage. He has never approved of her bric-a-brackery. “Be what you are, bury what you are not,” he had said. “Ticket stubs are trickery. Saving things is a magic trick with mirrors.

I’ve never saved much and can’t stand to own too much. Somehow I panic that if for whatever reason I had to leave, let’s say in an emergency or who knows what, I couldn’t quickly pack and be out the door.

I have no idea where this is from. Psychology is a funny thing.

It stresses me out when stuff I own starts to get a history. I mostly save a few treasured books and as far as bric-a-brac, I have a soft spot for decorating with seashells and rocks and natural things- cause I used to collect them when I was little. An ex, after seeing my room for the first time (I was 18, all I had was a makeshift altar- with spiritual items from different cultures, a mattress on the floor and a dark narrow bookshelf with a few favorite books) once said, “You are a minimalist. You only keep what’s necessary and spiritually important.” I think I was strangely touched- cause I still remember that to this day.

I do hold on though- emotionally.

This is all leading up to an insight I had yesterday.. strangely enough on social media. (You probably weren’t expecting that!) I think over the past few years, I’ve had a tougher and tougher time, because social media can be like some weird time machine, a way of preserving and collecting your past digitally in a way that’s unnatural. People who would have long passed out of your life are just kept there, in limbo. Phases you went through and are since over, preserved.

Not to mention that it’s a huge waste of time, a distraction when you could be focusing on what’s actually in front of you or spending time actually being productive. I’ve resolved soon I’m going to do something about it. No more social media for me. I will keep my blog for now, but I am hoping that soon, my friends who want to keep in touch will actually email me, write me a letter, call me on the phone.

I’ve definitely moved over to the realm of experience this past year and that’s what I want: concrete actual experience.

Let the past be the past.

About Beauty and Dreams

I'm just a lady in Portland, OR. Check out my blog! Drawings, collage and more!
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6 Responses to Ray Bradbury’s “Dandelion Wine” on Letting Go of the Past

  1. Anne LeBlanc says:

    Really enjoyed this post. I think I need to read that book! I understand your point of view on social media. I will miss you there, if you give it up for good. I am n

  2. Anne LeBlanc says:

    ….not that strong, but agree with your concerns. It relaxes me.

    • I am not that strong either! Baby steps. I hope that soon, I will be using it a lot less and maybe eventually I can do away with it altogether. If it’s there I find it hard not to keep using it, even if I don’t really have anything to say or if there’s nothing much new!

      For those that don’t know my daughter is nine, and I don’t want to be tempted away from focusing on her. I often forget that even if it feels like to me that I am multitasking, to her I am not seeing her unless I give her my full attention. Her dad works with technology, and is often always plugged in for work. I need to be better about being present.

  3. clinock says:

    Dandelion Wine also affected me deeply – you chose a wonderful passage – “Be what you are, bury what you are not,” is such right on Zen wisdom – I’m printing it all out and pasting it in my sketchbook.

  4. I just finished it. I think I held my breath- What a perfect ending! I think I loved the philosophical junk man the most.

  5. “Limbo” is a great definition of the internet.

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