I would while away the hours
Conversing with the flowers and talking to the trees
Oh the thoughts I’d be thinking I would be another Lincoln
If I only had a brain
Oh I would wonder why the ocean touched the shore
I would think of things I’ve never thought before
And then I’d sit….and think some more.
Strawman – Wizard of Oz
Well folks I’ve been using my newly regained powers of reason to think. It turned out to be rather time-consuming. I decided to read Atlas Shrugged. It’s been on my reading list for about 50 years or the first time I heard Mom proclaiming that it was the worst collection of evil, selfish, thoughtless drivel ever committed to print.
So I read it and now I’m even more confused than ever. Ok confused is the wrong word. White hot furiously outraged may be a better description. It seems that Rand’s main point is that we are responsible not only for our own actions but the lack thereof. Furthermore, penalizing the people who do work and achieve is not a benefit for those who chose not to. And I agree with that! Being I child of the 50’s I believed in the “American Dream” that you can do whatever you want and reach whatever height you wanted if you put your mind, and your back to it.
What’s been bothering me in the back of my mind is that when I do achieve what I want I am supposed to feel guilty about my achievement. Because, after all, I only got there on the backs of others…right? None of my fruits of my achievement belongs to me and are for my own enjoyment, unless I’m selfish and greedy.
Now wait just a cotton picking minute! I never asked anyone for a free lunch, a free ride or anything else I didn’t earn and now I’m supposed to feel guilty and selfish and give it all away. I just don’t see it that way.
Parts of the book made my hair stand on end. It’s way scarier than any Steven King or H.P. Lovecraft story. Some of the characters in the novel said lines that word for word matched encounters in my life with my own family. I’ve heard “you’re just cold-hearted, you never think of anyone but yourself” in response to requests to borrow my car. Never mind that the last few times they did, they either wrecked it or parked it in a no parking zone so it got towed away and impounded, leaving me to pay for the fines, repairs, etc.
Incidents like this I’ve confronted my entire life. I used to refer to myself as the white sheep of my family. I was called a “stick in the mud” for doing boring things like having a job for more than a month at a time or having insurance, an unexpired driver’s license, an apartment and so on. I have a few siblings and descendants who think that the coincidence that we were born of the same mother or that I gave birth to them means that I am supposed to fund their entire life including drug and alcohol abuse related expenses.
Now I’m retired and it brings a whole new set of weirdness. My “friends” from work say “it must be nice” when I talk about my life now. The trouble is they say it in a sarcastic manner. People automatically assume that I should now fill my days running around volunteering and slaving away for some cause or other, even if I don’t believe in and it doesn’t matter what cause it is. The point is I should not be wasting my time doing “nothing.” Reading and writing has become nothing, evidently.
Well if it is nothing, I’m going to revel in my nothingness. Pass the bon bons, please.