Opinion by Jim Denney
In March 2007, our family went to a library event in Duarte, east of Pasadena, to hear Ray Bradbury speak. He shared his views on writing, science, and culture. He spoke about working with film director John Huston — and he even performed a dead-on impression of Huston’s deep, sepulchral voice: “Now, Ray, how would you like to write the screenplay for Moby Dick?”
I had spoken with Ray on the phone before, but this was the first time I had met him in person. After Ray’s talk, our family went up to meet him. I mentioned a book on Walt Disney I had co-written with my friend Pat Williams, the founder of the Orlando Magic. Ray recalled his interview with Pat for the Disney book.
“Oh, that’s a wonderful book,” he said. “Let me tell you how I met Walt Disney.” I already knew the story — but what a privilege to hear it from Ray himself!
“It was Christmastime,” he told me, “and I was shopping at Macy’s in Beverly Hills. I saw a man walking toward me carrying an armload of Christmas presents, and I said, ‘That’s him! That’s Walt Disney!’
“I rushed up to him and said, ‘Mr. Disney?’ He said, ‘Yes?’ I said, ‘I’m Ray Bradbury, and I love your movies.’ He said, ‘Oh, Ray Bradbury! I know your books.’ I said, ‘Oh, thank God!’ He said, ‘Why?’ I said, ‘Because I’d love to take you to lunch sometime.’ And Walt said, ‘Tomorrow?’
“Isn’t that beautiful? ‘Tomorrow?’ Not next month, not ‘someday soon’ — tomorrow. That’s the way Walt lived his life. He was spontaneous. He didn’t hesitate, he didn’t procrastinate, he seized the moment.”
Then Ray signed my copy of The Martian Chronicles and I was happy.
There’s great wisdom in the story Ray Bradbury told me that night. This is how you and I should live our lives and write our dreams: Don’t hesitate. Don’t procrastinate. Seize every moment. As Picasso once said, “Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.”
How much of our lives do we fritter away by procrastinating? How many books, stories, essays, and songs will we leave unwritten because we failed to seize every moment of our lives?
Life is short. We haven’t a moment to lose.
“Procrastination is something best put off until tomorrow.” —Gerald Vaughan
Just released: My new book with Orlando Magic founder Pat Williams, Character Carved in Stone. Overlooking the Hudson River on the campus of the United States Military Academy at West Point are 12 granite benches, each inscribed with a word representing a key leadership virtue: Compassion, Courage, Dedication, Determination, Dignity, Discipline, Integrity, Loyalty, Perseverance, Responsibility, Service, and Trust. These benches remind cadets of the qualities that lead to victory and success, not just on the battlefield, but in all of life. In Character Carved in Stone, Pat Williams shows us how to develop these 12 essential virtues in ourselves, our children, our teams, our students, and our churches. Foreword by Coach Mike Krzyzewski.
And if you’d like to learn more about how to write faster, more freely, and more brilliantly than you ever thought possible, read my book Writing In Overdrive, available in paperback and ebook editions at Amazon.com. —J.D.