I Shrugged

Beltane                                                              Waning Last Frost Moon

“Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swaps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It exists … it is real … it is possible … it’s yours.” – Ayn Rand

Sounds pretty good at the start, doesn’t it?  Don’t let your fire go out?  Even the hero in the soul could be an archetypal reference, one that is pro-Self.  Then, Rand goes completely off the rails.  Lonely isolation because the life you deserved has been beyond reach.  The world you desire can be won.  It exists and so on.  This is the most specious sort of pseudo-logic.

First of all.  Life you deserve?  Oh, who said?  There is no metaphysical realm filled with wonderful fulfilling lives created especially for you and your desires.  That’s simply a happy talk version of heaven, the old pie in the sky idea, just not when you die, but delivered now, right now.  Fast food, fast destiny.  Delivered to your home.

A world you’ve never been able to reach?  So.  If you haven’t reached it yet, why not?  Because you haven’t believed in it enough?  Because you don’t have the right gender, color, sexual preference?  Could it be that the life you want and don’t have is one fed into the culture by vapid self-help gurus like Ayn Rand?  Who says you can have whatever you want?  What’s good about that?  That’s the adolescent girl screaming at a rock concert or an adolescent boy watching hockey or football, pumping his fist and imagining.  Is it possible that the dream you have is not your dream, but the dream of a culture with achievement as its number one value?

I’m no stranger to this thought.  I dreamed of becoming a published author, admired for my prose and my inventive fiction.  I wanted it.  I haven’t got it.  Is my life over because I don’t have what I dreamed?  Far from it.  My dream, and others I’ve had like it, came into my Self via a male focused culture, one that said, Be all you can be.  You can do anything.  B.S.

I can’t, for example, run a 4:00 minute mile.  I can’t, for example solve Fourier Transformations.  I can’t paint the next great American painting nor am I able to put on a white coat and figure out what’s the matter with you.  Would I like to be able to do these things?  Sure.  Is not desiring them what puts them beyond my reach?  No. It’s my limitedness, the peculiar package of skills and abilities I had from birth and have accrued over years of life experience.

We each have limitations; they make us unique.  The trick is not desiring a life you “deserve”, it is finding the life that only you can live, the peculiar, one-off life you have to offer to the world and to the rest of us.  The big difference here is the inward look goes toward self-knowledge, toward humility, toward knowing what only you can do.  This boot-strap, Horatio Alger, American mobility notion only pulls you further and further away from self-knowledge.  Instead, your life becomes an attempt to shoe-horn yourself into a cultural vessel, one not designed for you, not at all, but one designed to keep the culture moving in the direction it knows.

You are different.  You deserve nothing.  The hero in your soul will not perish in lonely isolation because you don’t get what you deserve.  The hero in your soul perishes when it uses its power and energy to cram you into somebody elses version of what you deserve.

In summary:  I don’t like Ayn Rand.

This entry was posted in Aging, Commentary on Religion, Faith and Spirituality, Humanities, Letters, Writing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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