Ayn Rand is one of my all time favorite authors and artists of her time. This one passage will barely do her justice, but I promise if you read some of her thought-provoking works, you will not be disappointed. Some of my favorites by Rand include; "Atlas Shrugged", "Fountainhead", "We the Living", " The Romantic Manifesto", and "Anthem".
Age old Teachings from "The Romantic Manifesto":
In March of 1965, Rand wrote about Mr. X, describing a man whose face was described as "tragic", "sorrow", "desolate hopelessness", "weariness", "chronic pain", and "resignation". She then went on to say that he was only 26 years old! He was successful and scholastic but he had no capacity to feel, no capacity to make decisions for himself, and no capacity to love. Rand describes how one day he had a sudden shift. He saw a Romantic film in which he connected emotionally and passionately with the main character, an industrialist who loved his work and was dedicated to his passion. Rand writes, "Mr. X was speaking incoherently, but conveying clearly that what he had experienced was more than admiration for a single character; it was the sense of seeing a different kind of universe - and his emotion had been exaltation. "It was what I wanted to be" he said. His eyes were sparkling, his voice was eager, his face was alive and young - he was a man in love, for the span of that moment. Then, the gray lifelessness came back and he concluded in a dull tone of voice, with a trace of tortured wistfulness: "When I came out of the theater, I felt guilty about it - about having felt this." "Guilty? Why?" I asked. He answered, "Because I thought that what made me react this way to the industrialist, is the part of me that's wrong...It's the impractical element in me...Life is not like that.." (The Romantic Manifesto, Rand, p.143-144). Rand goes on to describe that he was committing moral treason by apologizing for what was the best within him. He needed to redefine his life, to release the part of his soul that he was negating and forcing under the carpet. He needed to give into his passion instead of doing what he thought was socially acceptable and deemed 'successful' by the masses of society. Rand described when Mr. X changed his life, and followed his passion, "Due to his determined perseverance, he won his battle. Today - after quitting his job and taking many calculated risks - he is a brilliant success, in a career he loves, and on his way up to an ever-increasing range of achievement....I saw a recent snapshot of him which caught him smiling." (Rand, 144).
The point that Rand is making here is that this tragedy is repeated all around us and man's "Sense of Life" and 'Sense of existence" is pushed aside. This sense of life is created by his morality and his self-made soul and man needs to stay strong to his values and passions in life.
I read a book the other day, written some 60+ years later by Larry Smith called, "No Fears, No Excuses", where he is describing the exact same thing in numerous cases of students he has counseled. The message is the essentially the same in both examples of following your passions to success but yet we do not execute this in our lives. We continue to repeat tragic history and continue to wallow in societal 'norms'. But Why? The excuses we create in our minds need to be shifted and squashed. It seems only the mad ones survive. Will you?