I opened my backpack and pulled out something to read. On this fateful day, I got 30 minutes of Fahrenheit 451  in. I got off the bus and asked myself one question that I forgot I asked last time, ‘how do they see?’ How do they see into the future? It’s not just Ray Bradbury, but Dostoevsky too. Neil Postman. Aldous Huxley (I haven’t finished Brave New World yet).

Not everything is accurate, but they predict the future accurately enough for me to think, “Hey. He’s talking about the people around me. No, he’s talking about me. No, he’s talking to me.”

I sat down in the Math Learning Center at 9:30AM. I finished the chapter, and the same thought came to mind, “How do they see?” I got ready to head to a lab at 10. I called my friend, Marcus, as he’s in the same lab. I leaned on a glass pane overlooking the second floor, the stairs and the people below. Marcus walked towards me. I smiled as I saw him approach.

“Y’know, I always wonder. How do they see? I’m reading Fahrenheit 451 and I already read The Brothers Karamazov. And I always wonder how they can predict the future so well.” I said.

“The one about the fireman burning the books?” Marcus said.


“I mean, this is their whole lifetime condensed to writing.”

“Yeah, but I always find it shocking… I mean, Ray Bradbury allegedly wrote an essay and short story every day of his life. 451 is one of his accomplishments. In the book, there’s a quote about how these authors put down their whole life and experience in writing, just for the main character to burn a book in two minutes.”

“It is their whole life,” Marcus says. I forgot the next 20 minutes of the conversation. Maybe some remarks about how people talk about ‘nothing’ nowadays and what that means. Remarks about how 451’s world is all about entertainment and happiness, not truth. Remarks about faiths in others, religion, objectivity, Platonic concepts, the universe and whether it can be distilled into a long string of numbers, whether reality is real, what axioms we should believe and perceive the world with, how we’re people who question the world, and how life might be easier if we were only simple believing women.

There’s one more part of this conversation I remember that I want to convey to you.

Marcus said, “there were two big ideology shifts I’ve felt in my life. The first at 13, when I realized how massive the universe is. How what we do doesn’t matter. The ‘uncaring

universe’ point of view. Going from being a child who thinks they’re the center of everything, to understanding that we’re a speck on a rock in a massive sea of nothing.”

“And this second ideology?” I asked.

“This year. I realized that the whole world around me, from the buildings, everyone’s lineage, everything, every small detail, was made for everyone. All this sacrifice. We ought to be amazed at every small thing. This little part of the universe is built with care. This building we’re standing in. Someone built it for us.” There was a decent sized pause before I said something.

“When I try to have a conversation with someone, I always try to remember at least something in the conversation. To grow in some way. To find an answer or something.”

“You don’t even need to find an answer. Or remember anything. It’s fine to just talk. It reminds me, there’s this one composer, Morton Feldman, who had a conversation with someone for 2 hours. And they recalled later in life that it was one of the best and most memorable conversations he’s had in his life. He didn’t remember what they talked about, or anything except his attitude. It was the attitude that made it a remarkable conversation he remembered for his whole life.”

“I never heard that one before.” I looked down at the people below and those climbing the stairs. I looked up and saw the stairs leading to the fourth floor. I looked back towards him.

“When did you come to this new realization?”

“I was having a conversation with someone. And it was their attitude, not necessarily what they said, that made me realize that this place is really caring.”

“But surely people have been nice to you from 13 to now, right?”

“It’s precisely because of the uncaring universe point of view that I can’t take kindness for granted. It’s a choice that humans get to make, to be nice. Of course, I recognized it and didn’t take it for granted, but that conversation made me realize how deeply I had overlooked the care and goodness around me…”

The conversation lasted for an hour. We both missed our lab.

Marcus knew the person the composer had the conversation with and all the context. I forgot. I can’t remember everything perfectly. The order of events was mixed around purposely for a better story, even if I only conveyed the beginning and end. I don’t mean to be dishonest when I write. Maybe one could argue it’s not dishonest if your intentions are pure.

Later that day, as I returned home, I read 451.