When I was in high school I read a book that I absolutely loved. So, as any good friend would do, I lent it to my BFF. She read it and we spent a great deal of time discussing it. Then she lost the book. I have spent years wondering what the book was. Once in a while I would receive a suggestion. It was never the book I remembered. All I remembered was that it started out with the main character speaking in the plural "we." It ended with the character learning how to be an "I." My nephew Kaleb cracked the code and told me that the book is "Anthem" by Ayn Rand.
I took the book on my trip to Texas. Barely over 100 pages, it took a matter of hours to read. As with so many things in life, it was not as earth-shattering as I remembered it. However, the parable like structure of the story was intriguing. It was a good reminder of how we need to learn, grow and stand on our own. It is important to be individuals.
I have hesitated to speak in groups for fear of being different. I love how the writer expresses it. "...in the dim light of the candles, our brothers are silent, for they dare not speak the thoughts of their minds. For all must agree with all, and they cannot know if their thoughts are the thoughts of all, and so they fear to speak."
And I love how the main character expresses his newly found individualism at the end.
"I AM. I THINK. I WILL.
My hands...My spirit...My sky...My forest...This earth of mine...
I stand here on the summit of the mountain. I lift my head and I spread my arms. This, my body and spirit, this is the end of the quest. I wished to know the meaning of things. I am the meaning. I wished to find a warrant for being. I need no warrant for being, and no word of sanction upon my being. I am the warrant and the sanction.
It is my eyes which see, and the sight of my eyes grants beauty to the earth. It is my ears which hear, and the hearing of my ears gives its song to the world. It is my mind which thinks, and the judgment of my mind is the only searchlight that can find the truth. It is my will which chooses, and the choice of my will is the only edict I must respect."
Ayn Rand is a little too "live only for yourself" than I am. But, I love the reminder that our experiences, our happiness, our choices and our being are truly our own. There is nobody else in the world exactly like me and there never will be. My thoughts, feeling and ideas are important. And so are yours.