On a long bus ride, I was reading Ray Bradbury’s novel Fahrenheit 451 over again. I can tell how good of a book it is by how much it has impacted me. This is going to be my fourth post inspired by it. Few books do that, where you read it and instead of wanting to just devour more of its glorious ink marks on tree pulp that was inspired by life itself, you want to compile the building thoughts from the novel and write about it.
But this time instead of applying a truth learned, I wish to write how I came upon the truth.
So there I was on the ten hour bus ride with 33 high school students who smelled like peanut butter and too much cologne. Did I mention that it was a ten hour bus ride? I think I did, but I’ll say it again, a ten hour bus ride . . .
With a book in my face and head phones (or should I say “Seashells”?) turned up loud playing Beethoven, I tried to block out the rap music and the girly-girl talk.
Across the country we went, mile after mile, page after page, song after song.
I was looking for wisdom and wonder in between the lines of a 63 year old book. Trying to block out the youthful folly around me.
Coming to one of the quotes from other books, I search for the quote on Google. While it loads, I look up.
So focused I had been on the book and on the teenagers that I tried to block out, that I had blocked out what had been transforming around me. Winter dreariness with bald trees and fallow fields, had been transformed to spring animation with blooming trees and sowed fields.
So focused on the inside, I had not looked outside. I had only seen one option, and by my lack of observation, I had deprived myself of choice.
In trying to find wisdom I originally looked to a book, and forgot the world.
What I was trying to find in a book was already written in the sky, all I had to do was look. Wisdom and wonder and life was written in the sky. No ink or graphite or typewriter or digital “little black box” needed. Only eyes or ears or hands or mouth or nose needed, to understand what was written in the sky.
Oh, how precious are books, yet even more precious are the things that inspire them.
After marveling at what had been out my window all those hours and miles and pages and songs, I looked back at my phone, and of course it was still loading.
I looked back out the window and wanted my phone to keep loading so that I would never have to look away.
“‘It’s not books you need, it’s some the things that once were in books . . . No, no it’s not books at all you’re looking for! Take it where you can find it, in old phonograph records, old motion pictures, and in old friends; look for it in nature and look for it in yourself. Books were only one type of receptacle where we stored a lot of things we were afraid we might forget. There is nothing magical in them, at all. The magic is only in what books say, how they stitched the patches of the universe together into one garment for us.'”
-Page 79 in Fahrenheit 451