-The Halloween Tree – Ray Bradbury
June 6th was a day of inspirational remembrances for a wonderful writer, Ray Bradbury. While mine may not be as eloquent or riddled with personal anecdotes, I’d still like to say “thanks.” And as the site was having issues on the sixth, I have to be a day late and more than a dollar short.
Somewhere between high school and college (there were 2 explainable years), my brother asked me what I wanted to be. I don’t remember specifics of the conversation, but I do recall at least half of my answer. I wanted to write. I loved it. It filled up spaces in my life that everything else left empty. And for my birthday, he gave me a copy of Ray Bradbury’s book Zen and the Art of Writing. It’s still one of my favorite gifts.
I dog-eared the copy, marked my favorite quoteables, and was amazed at the accessibility of the essays. I had grown up with stuffy textbooks that I had used as sleep aides. It was refreshing to find non-fiction that spoke to me on a level I understood. Reading his words made me feel as though he were speaking to me in a sitting room around a cozy fire. And from the accounts I’ve read, that was exactly as it should have been.
I’ve always loved Halloween. Fall was my first season, and Halloween was my first holiday. When I was working in a library during college, I checked out a copy of The Halloween Tree and devoured it. I felt like one of Pip’s friends. My life may be a year shorter for it, but in so many ways, it was worth it. The story has helped me through times that would have been much harder without. Granted, I should have read it years before, but life didn’t present me with a Bradbury upbringing. I found his fiction a bit later in life, and for my sphere of reality, it appeared at the perfect time.
A few years after college, when I was ensconced in a life ordinary in more ways than I care to mention, I came across a $2 copy of The October Country one fall at a book fair. I spent quite a few days curled in a sweater under a tree chewing the words. Mr. Bradbury had a way of invoking nostalgia for a life that seemed familiar even if it didn’t resemble anything you exactly knew. Once you read the world he’d created, it was your world, and you were part of it. I have to wonder how many of the memories people hold have twinges of the suggested realities he drew for us. In reading that book, it reminded me of what I really wanted to do. I wanted to write. I wanted to tell stories. I wanted people to see the worlds I saw. And even though it took me a bit longer to get back to it than I’d like to admit, that’s what I’ve done. I’ve written. Thanks to my brother and Mr. Bradbury, I have written.
“We are cups, constantly and quietly filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.” – Ray Bradbury