This last week, I finally finished the last CD in the unabridged 42 disc version of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged audio book. It was a tremendous piece of work. It dragged on a little bit in certain parts where Rand basically repeats her philosophy over various different scenarios. But the story line is rock solid. Despite the audio book being 51 hours long, I truly felt that the entire book was constantly building towards a climax. Every time I switched it off, I wanted to switch it back on and find out what happens next.
Atlas Shrugged really hits a chord with me, as I think it touches most people, because it speaks to the best in all of us. It speaks to the part of us that wants to be the best, to do the right thing, to live for ourselves, and to be free and happy. Ayn Rand preaches that the highest virtue of human existence is to be productive. When I hear her say things like that, it's like a huge burden being taken off my shoulders. The burden, of course, is the war that I rage inside of my own head trying to balance my desire to be productive with my feelings of obligation to engage in things in which I am simply not that interested.
I would like to, over the next few weeks, go back over the book and present some passages that really meant a lot to me. It is a most excellent book and I highly recommend it to every one. I suspect that there are people out there who just will not understand what she is saying (and I am not talking about religion, just philosophies on life); I think you either have to feel that the book connects with you at a core level, or you just don't agree with what she is saying. But of those who don't get it, I am sure a lot of it comes down to courage. Living for yourself takes courage. It is not an easy thing to do; this I know from personal experience.