Memorizing. It’s not exactly a common past time any more, with the possible exception of stage actors. In our parent’s and grandparent’s generations it was valued as a way to share beautiful and important things. Now we just google and forget.
As for me, before I could read or write I had all the books of the bible memorized as well as a couple dozen scriptures. As a side note, this shows how deeply ingrained in my core faith is. However, as I grew, I got lazy. I did memorize scriptures now and then, but my mind was filled with all sorts of things: movies, television shows, school work… movies. In all that I lost the practiced habit of learning something by heart.
The other day I was working on yet another list diligently (yet somehow wondering if spending so much of my time on lists wasn’t wasteful) when I started to think about how I’d like to improve my spiritual life. I had chunked the sections of my life up to what I’d like to work on in larger sections, hoping that having a larger focus instead of the minutia of details would make it easier, and in truth more fun, to achieve. Regarding my self, there were the three areas of mind, body, and spirit for which I was considering how to improve. When it came to my spirit, memorizing came to mind.
As I processed this idea, I processed what was important to me spiritually. Though I cherish the Bible, I value more than it now, because my understanding of God is bigger than what it was in my youth. And, my spirit revels in words. So I started to think of the quotes from books I’ve read that have changed me, moved me so deeply that they changed how I lived. Those words, those wonderful thoughts, that’s what I’d like to have inside me to dwell on when I can’t sleep or when I’m struggling emotionally.
So I decided to start with one of my very favorite quotes, an excerpt from Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. In point of fact, the first two I want to keep trapped in my brain in order to seep into my spirit are both from that outstanding book. Here’s the first:
“I hate a Roman named Status Quo,” he said to me, “Stuff your eyes with wonder,” he said, “Live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories. Ask no guarantees, ask for no security, there never was such an animal. And if there were, it would be related to the great sloth that hangs upside down in a tree all day every day, sleeping its life away. To hell with that,” he said, “shake the tree and knock the great sloth on his ass.”
I know that what inspires is very personal, and most of my friends I’ve shared this with liked the idea of it, but didn’t have the bonded sort of reaction that I did. I know my perspective is rather uncommon, and likely considered uncouth at times, but for me embracing this philosophy is to embrace my nature. My desire to purge and be free of stuff is tied into it. That’s me making sure I’m not so bound by things that I don’t have the energy to shake the tree.
The second quote is quite as vital to my being; to that for which my brain and heart longs.
We’ll just start walking today and see the world and the way the world walks around and talks, the way it really looks. I want to see everything now. And while none of it will be me when it goes in, after a while it’ll all gather together inside and it’ll be me. Look at the world out there, my God, my God, look at it out there, outside me, out there beyond my face and the only way to really touch it is to put it where it’s finally me, where it’s in the blood, where it pumps around a thousand times ten thousand a day. I'll get hold of it so it’ll never run off. I’ll hold onto the world tight some day. I’ve got one finger on it now; that’s a beginning.
It goes to my character and how I want to live my life. There are other quotes, many by the great authors of past generations, that speak to me. And I do hope that I find my way to memorizing them as well. It was likely unorthodox to memorize these two first… but then, that rather sums me up. I have great faith, but it is anything by orthodox. It’s vast and ever-expanding and with it comes a drive to understand and embrace the people and cultures of the world, and in doing that also growing from how they experience and honor God. This is my passion. To know not just these words, but the world - by heart.