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Dr. Wayne Willis

On Labor Day, exactly 90 years ago, 12-year-old Ray Bradbury visited a carnival in his hometown of Waukegan, Ill. Something happened to him there that changed his life forever.

The carnival magician, Mr. Electrico, “charged with 50,000 volts of pure electricity,” walked over to Ray, touched an electrified sword to Ray’s forehead, and shouted, “Live forever!” Ray felt something “strange and wonderful” happen within him. Little could he appreciate then how he would indeed live forever in the hearts and minds of generations to come who would feast on his science fiction. Ray Bradbury achieved literary immortality as one of the most celebrated writers of both the 20th and the 21st centuries.

Here is some personal wisdom drawn from his 91 years of experience.

On writing: “We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.”

“I wish you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime. May you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.”

On legacy: “My grandfather said, ‘Everyone must leave something behind at death — a child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and, when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there.’

“ ‘Change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you. The difference between the man who cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime’.”

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