Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Ray Bradbury and the Art of Parenting

Since I’m participating in this year’s Write 1 Sub 1 challenge – a writing commitment inspired by Ray Bradbury’s early career goal to write and submit a story every week, and where Write 1 Sub 1 writers write one piece and submit it either every week or every month for a year – I think it’s only fitting to re-visit something I wrote a few years ago, the second time I read Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing.

I think it was 2007, which means Dane and Aubrey were probably 6 and 5.

Here’s what I wrote:

I’m re-reading and re-loving Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing. I love the full sense Bradbury has of himself as a human being (and how he’s had it since birth – he says he remembers being circumcised at four days old!), and I love how this sense of himself as a human being has given him a full sense of himself as a writer.

He learned early on to embrace his passions, which he says he did at age 9 after a month of misery in the aftermath of destroying all of his Buck Rogers collection because his friends had ridiculed him. When he recognized he’d cut off and betrayed a huge part of himself in doing that, he decided those people weren’t his friends – they were actually his enemies – and went back to passionately collecting, daydreaming, and embracing his loves.

That all made me appreciate Ray Bradbury. I appreciate his insights for myself as a writer with lofty goals and an inexplicable desire to write. His words remind me to commit to whatever I want, regardless of the opposition, and to just do it over and over and over again because I love it and want to get better.

That’s obvious, though. I definitely should’ve gotten that from a book on writing.

However, it surprised me to realize that I also appreciate his perspective because I’m a parent.

Acknowledging that we should embrace our passions, regardless of outside opinion, makes me appreciate my children’s loves. Dane loves dinosaurs, Star Wars and Pokemon. He loves drawing them, dreaming about them, talking about them. Aubrey loves princesses, flowers, fairies, and anything pretty.

In the same ways I’m moved to write, my children are moved by their passions.

I think of Dane and his Pokemon fixation – how he’s only seen a movie of them once, but he collects books and sits and draws image after image after image and has a shoe box full of his miniature drawings – and I want him to keep going with those goofy little creatures that half his classmates think are stupid. (The other half loves them. I think Dane’s already decided: live and let live.)

And I think of Aubrey with her back porch fairy notes, weighted with tiny daisies and pebbles, and how she lives for the notes they (I) leave her on a misty night. How she curls her letters and numbers like they do, spending hours on her elbows, writing and clipping and designing, and telling them she likes to think of them feasting under foxgloves.

It’s easy to get annoyed by obsessions, or not respect the time and energy they take from the obsessor. It’s also not bad to introduce kids to new things so they diversity their learning, but there is time to acknowledge a groove, to feed a passion, to relish an obsession. That’s how you gain the role of expert – even if it’s self-appointed.

It's also how you learn to live your life with the confidence to pursue whatever you want.

Ray Bradbury’s book is called Zen in the Art of Writing, but it seems to me he could’ve just as easily called it Zen in the Art of Parenting.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I like this piece, Anj.
When you're doing something you enjoy (and get better at it), is a real feeling of satisfaction.
I like that the kids get it, too!
Love, Mom