Ray Bradbury: On Following Your Heart, Doing What You Love, and Tuning Out The Naysayers

Ray Bradbury, the beloved writer who gave science fiction its soul, died last week. In 1990, John Ezard of the UK’s Guardian interviewed Bradbury and asked him how he discovered his vocation as a writer. Bradbury told this story, explaining how he learned to follow his bliss and to tune out those voices that urged him to follow other paths.

“Sixty one years ago, when he was nine years old, Ray Bradbury stopped clipping out the daily Buck Rogers space strip from the Waukegan News-Sun. The decision was to be the turning-point of his life. 

“He was mad about the strip. But his friends in fourth grade made fun of him. Buck Rogers wasn’t important, the future wasn’t going to happen. So he tore up his entire collection.

One morning about two weeks later he woke up crying. ‘I asked myself: ‘Why am I crying, who died?’ The answer was me. I asked: ‘Why am I dying, what am I dying of?’ The answer that came was that I was dying because I had destroyed the future because I had listened to those fools.

‘Then I said: ‘Well, what’s the solution, how can I not die?’ And the answer was, go back and collect comic strips and Buck Rogers and make your life whole. So I went back and started collecting again. All of a sudden all of my life came back, all of my love.

‘And then I made up my mind that I would never listen to another damn fool ever in my life. That was the day I learned that I was right and everybody else was wrong. If God treats you well by teaching you a disastrous lesson, you never forget it.’ ”

There is only one person in the world who can live the life you’ve been created to live, and that person is you. Stop listening to the naysayers, the envious, and those who insist on confining you to their boxes. Never give up on the thing that gives you life and love, for that is your calling. You will be restless and distraught until you’ve given yourself the freedom to become the best self your Creator made you to be. That will begin when there is congruence between all of you, and the ways that you give back to the world around you. In the words of Frederick Buechner, that congruence happens when your “deep gladness meets the world’s great need.”

What do you need to return to doing today that would liberate you to be and do everything that delights and gives you passion?

Whose voices do you need to tune out?

What is the great Voice inside saying to you?

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