Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.
- Napoleon

Monday, February 25, 2008

Dipping into the Well

I don't know about the rest of you, but from time to time the well of my spirit needs to be refreshed. I get tired of life - not living exactly, but of everything else. The news all stinks, mankind seems like it's sliding into about two weeks before the fall of Rome, and all I want to do is crawl into a hole. Hermit life begins to look attractive.

It's times like these I have to dip into the well of the achievements of others. Sometimes I go to Quent Cordair Fine Art and check out the romantic realism there. I love Bryan Larsen. He's a hell of a guy (yes, I met him - he has (had?) a gallery he shared with artist Damon Denys, who I also love, in Salt Lake City and they used to host art parties there from time to time) and a spectacular artist. I would love for him to do my cover art, but that's a story for another time. Sometimes I stop at various other online galleries or listen to classical music (Rachmaninov anyone?) or look at pictures of grand architecture. I need to see something inspiring.

Sometimes that doesn't work.

In those cases, the only thing that fills my empty aching spirit is to read. Not just any book, but the one - Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.

I first read AS as a freshman in high school. It showed me a world where people were more focused on achievement than popularity. Intelligence and integrity were more important than clothes and jewelry. I would've given anything to be Dagny Taggart instead of Eddie Willers. (Somedays, I still would.)

Oddly enough, the book was on a list of the top 100 books everyone should read. I don't think the teacher who gave out the list ever bothered reading the books on it. He sure as hell never read AS. He liked to bounce kids' heads off the lockers for sport. But as much as the guy was an ass, he did me a huge favor by giving me that list. I started at the top and read my way down. It was in alphabetical order, and the first few books were almost painful to read. (I still have the list around here somewhere. If I find it, I'll share it.) When I reached AS, it was like someone flipped a light switch and my dim world got brighter.

It still does.

I used to read the book at least once a year. 1168 pages of greatness and beauty defeating ugliness and depravity. Heroic men and women who ultimately win out over the basest evils. *happy sigh* I've read it at least a dozen times since then, and every time I see something I missed. And every time I come away feeling renewed. Oh sure, I cry when Eddie gets left behind. Eddie is the every man. I cry at the beginning when Dagny and Hank are battling to save the world from itself. I was crying last night and I'm only in the first 200 pages. I still love it. Sometimes you have to go through the pain to get to the prize at the end. (Sort of like writing, but I digress.)

Aside from what the book does for me personally, it is a wonderful piece of research material professionally. In her writings, Rand doesn't screw around. Everything in it is there for a reason. If I could achieve half her writing quality, I'd die happy. It also helps to know it took Rand 8 years to get published, and if she had to wait that long, I really shouldn't feel bad if it takes me twice as long.

Anyway, I know AS is not for everyone. I'm not advocating everyone should read it. I'm just saying what it does for me. In fact, I've had firsthand experience with people who hated the book, and weren't afraid to say so. (If you're one of those, please don't leave a comment. Negativity isn't welcome here.) I've also had people try to debate the book and its ideas with me. I'm done debating. I'm just enjoying and letting the words wash me clean again. Sometimes I just have to.

So, how do you dip into the well?

1 comment:

Richard said...

A.S., Fountainhead and Rand's non-fiction (especially) totally changed my life and mind for the better, even as the people around me betrayed me, looting me spiritually and financially. Some of those even studied OPAR with me. Ayn Rand was/is right, and always will be. That was her goal, to be right once and for all. Such genius may not appear again for two millennia.

Imagine living in her time (which is still now), and ridiculing her or just not caring... it would be to laugh at Aristotle, or da Vinci, or Locke, or Michaelangelo, or Newton, or Bouguereau, or Jefferson, or Darwin, to name a few. It is to be on the side of Inquisitors, Witch Doctors, Dictators and the lowest of thieves and sluts.