I still remember the first time I heard this quote, in one of the first episodes of One Tree Hill. When the dude I totally crushed out on as an undergraduate university student told Lucas ‘Don’t let them take it” as he handed him a copy of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. When Lucas told Jake he didn’t know what that meant, Jake simply said he would as he nodded to the book.
It’s the quote that Mark Schwahn reads out to the kids in Honey Grove, TX when they won the competition to have an episode of the show filmed in their town. And it’s a quote that was up on my wall in my flat in Aberdeen.
That went up on my wall in my flat in Edinburgh.
And that remains on my wall today in my attic room.
Yet I continually let my fire get snuffed out…
The words of the nay-sayers play like a broken record in my head. The nay-sayers that are the people I trusted. The people who said they didn’t think I should do it. That I should do something else. That I’m rubbish. That they wouldn’t support me if I went down that path.
I’m still embarrassed that the reason that I only led worship once at my church in Edinburgh is because when things didn’t go to plan (none of which was my fault) the voice of one person replayed in my head….words from two years before which contradicted my pastor, the head of our music team and numerous others. That made me mumble to my pastor that I never wanted to lead worship again. And so after that one time, I just went back to being a backing vocalist. Happy to be in the background. And eventually I stopped singing altogether.
I never went back to South Africa because I thought that no one would support me financially to do so in the long-term.
I stopped dancing because my mother told me that she didn’t think there was point in becoming a qualified dance teacher. So I went and did Geography – a subject I liked and was good at so I could become a normal teacher. Actually let’s be honest…I did Geography as a get out clause because I didn’t really want to be a school teacher, and figured I’d have more options that way. The problem was that what I loved was teaching young people through dance.
I’ve wanted to write for as long as I can remember. I have such a detailed imagination that dreamed up entire towns, villages, schools and families playing alone in my Nana & Grandad’s house for hours each day as a child. When I wrote about a very personal experience on my first blog, and people responded in ways I never imagined they kept telling me to write a book. But stuff would stop me. Work, living arrangements, fear of not being able to share the whole story, fear of no one wanting to read it. Then seeing other people writing their stories who are far greater than I am. Realising that no one really reads what I write anymore anyways.
There’s all the work and studying….and then the rejection from the jobs. The wish to travel and not having the funds to do so. The wish to be able to write and not having the head space to do it. The desire to do things and being told no.
Until eventually you just want to curl under a duvet and wish to just die because living in a world where you are struggling to achieve anything grates on you…it’s not living. It feels like simply existing.
I want to believe Ayn Rand. That the world I desire can be won. That the passion can be reignited…that it can be possible to turn into something real and meaningful.
Do you think Ayn Rand is right? Or not?