Author Ray Bradbury Shares Importance Of Using ‘The Gifts God Has Given Us’
By Movieguide® Contributor
Ray Bradbury is known for his best-selling science fiction stories, but the author shared that he almost turned away from his writing gifts — if not for one chance encounter.
In a personal essay for Guideposts, Bradbury told the story of a visit to the fair when he was 12 years old.
“I arrived at the sideshow where I stared openmouthed at Mr. Electrico,” Bradbury wrote of a sideshow performer in an article published to Guideposts. “He spoke in tones I felt proclaimed God’s truth. With a flourish of his black cape, he ensconced himself in a wondrous electric chair, and an assistant threw a switch and proclaimed, ‘Here go ten million volts of pure fire, ten million volts of electricity into the flesh of Mr. Electrico!’
He continued, “As the current surged through his body, his white hair billowed into a bright halo, his body seemed to glow and incandescent fire danced at his fingertips. I watched mesmerized as he picked up a silver sword, leaned down and with it touched me on both shoulders, then the tip of my nose. The electricity surged through me, making my hair stand on end. He shouted, ‘Live forever!’”
Bradbury was struck by that statement, saying it felt like “a divine command.”
“I had to find out just how to ‘Live forever!,’” the author wrote. “How did it fit with what I’d learned Sundays at my Baptist church? I sensed that we could live on with God after we died, but Mr. Electrico’s proclamation indicated something different.”
Bradbury returned to the circus a few days later, where he found Mr. Electrico and asked him more about his life philosophies. He soon discovered that the performer was a former Presbyterian minister.
“He spoke of how important it was for us to be true to what we had been given to do in life. And on that log I began to realize just what he meant by ‘Live forever!’” Bradbury explained. “He wasn’t referring to salvation. His emphasis was on the word live. He was saying that this life too was sacred and must be lived to the fullest. Each day, each hour was precious. Each of us must make the most of every moment to use the gifts God had given us.”
This talk with Mr. Electrico made Bradbury think about a gift from God that he had almost given away: his love of stories. After kids at school made fun of him for cutting out comic strips, Bradbury stopped reading the comics, but didn’t feel as much like himself.
“Something happened to me as Mr. Electrico and I talked through that warm autumn afternoon. His blazing sword had truly fired my imagination, to make me fully realize what my calling in life was,” the writer went on.
After his conversation with the circus performer, Bradbury started writing “faithfully every day,” even receiving a toy typewriter for Christmas.
“It took hours to compose a single paragraph on the machine, dialing letters on a rubber disc and pressing them one by one against the paper. But I wrote all of my first stories with the wondrous gift,” he said.
“Since that one bright afternoon with Mr. Electrico I have never stopped writing,” Bradbury concluded. “Thus I celebrate the gift God has given me. I believe each of us has such a talent to put to work to find ourselves, and in the finding, help others.”
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