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.