Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Masterpiece of Epic Proportions

My bag has been so much lighter since I finished this book.

I finished reading it almost two months ago, after lugging the damn thing around for a good five weeks. I took it with me everywhere and read it every chance I got. Still it took me over a month to fully absorb its brilliance, and twice as long to compose my tribute to it.

And so here it is. My paltry attempt to pay homage to a work of art that changed my life.

I will not go into details about the storyline or the characters. I believe that everyone needs to read this book for themselves, and what fun is there in reading a story when you know what happens next? I will say that Atlas Shrugged is a mystery, it is an adventure, and it is a championing of capitalism. It is full of crime and greed and those basest of human conditions. It is a record of what happens when people are overcome by aforementioned conditions. But ultimately and above all, it is a story of love, and the discovering of oneself.

Rand's position on love is a unique one. In loving someone, she believes, you are offering up your own mind, body, and spirit. In effect, your lover acts as a mirror, reflecting what you offer and showing it back to you. In this way she sets forth the idea that love is not necessarily about the worshipping or even the adoration of a partner. Love is not "to choose a person as the constant center of one's concern," but rather " is a celebration of one's self and existence." Also, she writes that love is not "some static gift which, once granted, need no longer be deserved." Love must be constantly earned, over and over again. This notion is lost on so very many people, and I believe it is the downfall of so very many real-life love stories.

More than anything else, though, the book helped me to understand that

my life is my own.

If I'm happy, it's because of something I've done, the people I've chosen to associate with or the goals I've decided to pursue. If I'm unhappy, it's my own fault and no one else's, because I am the only person who has the power to change it. Rand says, "Man exists for the achievement of his desires." So, then, what better way to live your life than to strive towards achieving your desires, whatever they may be? Strive, strive for yourself and for no one else. Your true love will join you on that path rather than block it.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


This advice, from Milton Glaser's "Ten Things I have Learned," is something we all intuitively know. He just puts it into explicit words. It's gold... Read on:

There was in the sixties a man named Fritz Perls who was a gestalt therapist... Perls proposed that in all relationships people could be either toxic or nourishing towards one another. It is not necessarily true that the same person will be toxic or nourishing in every relationship, but the combination of any two people in a relationship produces toxic or nourishing consequences. And the important thing that I can tell you is that there is a test to determine whether someone is toxic or nourishing in your relationship with them. Here is the test: You have spent some time with this person, either you have a drink or go for dinner or you go to a ball game. It doesn’t matter very much but at the end of that time you observe whether you are more energised or less energised. Whether you are tired or whether you are exhilarated. If you are more tired then you have been poisoned. If you have more energy you have been nourished. The test is almost infallible and I suggest that you use it for the rest of your life.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Cold Spring

I was an Indian princess for Halloween. I wore a feathered headdress and sat at a table collapsing under the weight of a feast. I ate Stacy's truffle mashed potatoes and apple butter salmon and magic bars that were meant to take me to a place called Fairy Land, and even though Astrid was the only one who was supposed to get there, I think I got there too. I laughed, and drank, and tried to fall backwards into the Hudson River, except that Daniel and the wind were so strong they held me up.

When I fell asleep on the couch, Kalen and Dee covered me up with sweaters and scarves and animal pelts, but only after failing to coerce me into the community sleeping pile. In the morning, Justin brought me coffee with soy milk in it because that's what I wanted even though soy isn't good for you. I don't care, I like the way it tastes like caramel candy. Chris' pancakes were so fluffy, they were like eating flat, golden-brown clouds. I figured I don't eat clouds very often, so I had three.

We got to the woods and Jeff and Tim took over. Their determination to conquer the forest almost made me cry, but only once, because I was wearing shoes meant for subways and not for rocks and leaves. I pretended we were a tribe and the boys were leading us on a hunt. At first I didn't know what we were hunting for, but it seemed pressing, so I continued on. Then they led us to the top of a mountain, and I looked around, and I understood.

I was an Indian princess for Halloween.

This little video from Justin Kay may not cause the same welling of emotion for someone who wasn't there, but it almost made my chest burst. The weekend was almost perfect.