Thursday, May 29, 2014

Ray Bradbury: We're All Poets When We Get In Tune With Really Living

poetry in the mundane, ray brandburyDo you think of yourself as a poet, that kind of wordsmith who can transmit beauty the way a 5th year frat boy transmits STDs? I don't. At least not while speaking. Speaking's never been my strong suit, but occasionally words seem to dangle off of my fingertips and find their way through the keys and onto the computer screen like meandering ants to an open jar of jam, impossibly making it to that sweet slice of heaven without getting squashed by a hidden and malevolent force in the universe.

Too often our society makes us feel like we're nothing more than worker drones (to continue with the ant metaphor, this time flipping it on its head). Poetry and art are not worth pursuing unless we are exemplary individuals, folks with unordinary lives, aliens of the "regular" world. To this, thankfully, Ray Bradbury would respectfully disagree. It is precisely the "regular" world where our beauty comes from. In Zen in the Art of Writing, he writes:

Oh, it's limping crude hard work for many, with language in their way. But I have heard farmers tell about their very first wheat crop on their first farm after moving from another state, and if it wasn't Robert Frost talking, it was his cousin, five times removed. I have heard locomotive engineers talk about America in the tones of Thomas Wolfe who rode our country with his style as they ride it in their steel. I have heard mothers tell of the long night with their firstborn when they were afraid that they and the baby might die. And I have heard my grandmother speak of her first ball when she was seventeen. And they were all, when their souls grew warm, poets.

It's refreshing to hear, rather spiritual, adding credence to the title of the book that this is excerpted from. Zen. If we cannot find beauty in our daily lives, if we cannot find art and poetry in each moment, then what lives are we choosing for ourselves? If we can only have fun during our week-long August vacation, then let us put in our two weeks notice, turn the page and find a new life waiting patiently for us there with a welcoming smile on its face, with open arms, eyes glittering fantastically, and hands full of party favors and discoveries.

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