I was out of orbit my friends. Think tiny, shiny, silver ball. Think big hungry machine. Think bounce zoom bounce.
That ball was me and the machine was the BIG HAND IN THE SKY. Or whatever. Some call it Karma. Some call it Chance. Some call it GOD. I call it by its first name: CHAOS.
But I’m back. I feel like I jumped into a moving car and am now sitting half-assed on the cracked leather seat, steering with one white-knuckled hand while shifting gears with the other. I am not completely in control of this ride, but I am getting there.
I had a dog for three days. His name was Meatball. A Chihuahua puppy with the blackest eyes you’d ever seen and a sweet temperament. I don’t know why I got so attached, so quickly, but I do that. I prefer the company of animals to humans on most days. I apologize humans; don’t take it personally. Meatball was diagnosed with a fatal illness and we didn’t have the money to give him a fair shot. So he was given a death sentence. Those are the rules. There are two Joker cards in the deck of life: How much and How long.
I promised you I would blog about Ayn Rand’s book, Atlas Shrugged.
It is so broad in scope, so profound in dept, and so richly filled with mind-boggling minutia that it would take a scholar to adequately review it. Yet, I think I can give you a sense of the machine without describing the nuts and bolts.
Who is John Galt?
He is the man who said he’d stop the motor of the world, and then did. How does he do it? By recruiting all of the thinkers, movers, and shakers of the world. Why does he do it? To expose the sick moral code by which we live. To reveal the horror of it. By removing men of mind from the world and building a second Atlantis with them, he brings the world to a stop. The mystics, the beggars, the emotional vampires, the lobbyist, the corrupt, the looters, the takers, the planners, the talkers, the destroyers of the mind, of greatness, are left to fend for themselves, and soon, the world learns a lesson.
And what is that lesson? The answer is the foundation of Ayn Rand’s philosophy. Man must serve his mind first and foremost. Man must live using reason always. Man must establish his own moral code and set it above all else, refusing to be swayed, corrupted, or lessened by false ambitions. The truth and beauty of this line sums it all very well: “I swear on my life and on the love I have for it, that I will not give my life for the sake of another man, as I will never ask another man to give his life for my sake.” What does that mean?
It means, I am willing to trade, but trade freely and fairly. I am willing to give, but only if I get something in return.
Already, I feel you wincing. How selfish, you may think. How brutal and self-serving. Consider this then, have you ever been in a relationship (and here I include siblings, friends, coworkers) in which there was no fair trade? C’est-à-dire, you have conversations with this person, spend time with this person and find yourself constantly reassuring, offering advice, consoling, taking the blame, belittling yourself to accommodate this person’s fragile ego, uttering sentences that don’t at all represent your thoughts just so you can camouflage the fact that you are smarter than this person and fear bruising this person’s inflated ego? Have you? Of course, this person never notices all of the battles you wage on your tongue. Never notices who you are. In fact, this person seems to need you for only one reason: your moral sanction. This person needs you to allow the transfusion to happen. This person knows–on many subconscious levels– that the only way your relationship can continue is if you permit him or her to drain you. Without your sanction, the theft cannot happen. And meanwhile, what do you get from this robbery disguised as an exchange?
I can give you an idea.
You get confusion. Anger. Guilt. The more you give to this person–the destroyer of anything positive–the guiltiest you feel. You begin to doubt your self. To doubt your greatness. To doubt your strength.
“Why do I understand these notions and she does not?” you ask yourself. “Why am I happy if she is not?” “What can I do to stop her from envying me and instead follow my lead?” “Why does she perpetually stay in this state of agony?” “Why can’t I ever truly speak my mind when we talk?” “Why does her misery feel like my responsiblity?”
And we are supposed to elevate ourselves? How can we feed an abysmal need when we are expected to be its food?
If every man and woman woke tomorrow morning and decided to commit themselves to the biggest, noblest quest of their lives: themselves, what world would we live in?
Half of you will answer: Heaven.
The other will sneer: Hell.
And I won’t try to convince anyone. After all, the truth is never an argument.