Reading about the death of Ray Bradbury a few weeks ago led me again to wonder about the purpose of life. Having been alive for 47 years, one thinks this question would have been answered by now, but here I am still wondering. Maybe it is this wondering that keeps me searching for something innovative, or is just a waste of precious time that will not be renewed. In advising others often regarding this same difficult question, I attempt to steer them in the direction of what is most true for them given their current circumstances and knowledge.
I have found that for many who struggle defining their life’s purpose they have done so for longer then they can remember. Ray Bradbury discovered quite early life his calling, maybe be sheer chance, and pursued that calling with such enthusiasm throughout his life.
‘It was one frenzy after one elation after one enthusiasm after one hysteria after another. I was always yelling and running some where because I was afraid life was going to be over that very afternoon.’ After meeting a magician called, Mr. Electrico, who ‘tapped him with his sword and said, “Live forever!” I decided that was the greatest idea I had ever heard,’ Bradbury said later. ‘I started writing every day. I never stopped.’
–John Rogers, Associated Press
Many of us are not as fortunate as Mr. Bradbury who discovered so early his passion, then deployed it with such vigor. After meeting Mr. Electrico at the age of 12, Ray would go on to write 500 stories, through daily, 1000 word doses until a week before his death at 91–often shocking himself by the sheer volume of his writing. We all have the same passion deep within us, as well, that is either validated daily, or waiting, sometimes patiently or not, to announce its arrival at the surface of our consciousness. It is the awaking to our true purpose–an eternal flame that never blows out–that will allow us to overcome our deepest fears, allowing us in the process to benefit boundless beings and thus, in a sense, live forever. I end this post urging you to read the obituary in this weeks Economist: a story within a story of this masterful story teller who discovered his true purpose in living early in life and then demonstrated to all that would bare witness. Thanks, Ray. You will be missed, but like Electrico the Magician said so many years ago to that little 12 year old boy in the carnival tent at the county fair in Waukegan, IL, you will live forever in the hearts and minds of those that find their passion for living and project it onto the world in which they inhabit.
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