“No, we never had to.” John Galt in response.
– Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
Atlas Shrugged was a tough book to get through. Anybody who says differently is lying or just glossed over the 50+ page monologue from Galt. Easy on the tree-killing Ayn. But that line alone is a life lens that I have struggled with since college. I have the proof in the journals I have occasionally kept, on and off…..often for a long time off….since then.
One of my first journal entry that I can track back is from January 12, 2000. In it I express fear and anxiety about the stock market (given the impending disaster, perhaps well informed), but characterized by a fear of financial ruin. Reading it, I was going to go broke and have to turn to bus station romance for a living.
March 28, 2001 and I write “I want to go to sleep at night without financial fear.”
I just randomly jumped forward to April 24, 2005. Here is a quote: “If I look 4 years back in this journal….my worries are the same. Finances and my job.”
What’s amazing is between January 2000, when my wife and I had first started living together, and April 2005 we’d bought a beautiful home and had a child. Never once did I spend the night on the street (unless I was in Vegas and invited it on myself), go hungry (I likely tipped 190 lbs in April 2005) or miss out on travel, dining or entertainment. Never ONCE did I have to take it all so seriously.
And yet reading in that journal, that’s all I have ever done. Take it seriously. Fear for something that might happen. Today is no better. A little, dark, monkey brain fear of ruin. Impending ruin and doom when I can no longer pay the bills. I’m not sure what bills. But clearly the ones that keep you happy, alive, free and secure. I won’t be able to pay those, and then suddenly the collector will come.
As Mark Twain is quoted, “I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.”
Something could have happened, clearly. Lose a job? That’s not fun. Except when the next job you land finally sets you free. Lose a house? My wife and I had friends in Phoenix who lost their house, moved to Guam and now live in what they see as paradise.
Why….why…do we have to take it all so seriously?
Who taught me that everything is so serious? That everything needs to be underpinned by a constant state of threat and fear and impending disaster?
I’ve been building a list of people and things I think might have taught me that. Coming in a new post shortly.
Check back frequently for thoughts on how we can avoid taking it all so seriously, pursue happiness, and generally stop the little monkey brain.