SPOILER ALERT! THE FOLLOWING BLOG POST CONTAINS ATLAS SHRUGGED PLOT SPOILERS.
But, I won't discuss anything beyond Chapter 8, so if you're in the reading group and a first-time Atlas Shrugged reader, you won't hear anything about later chapters, so read on! If you haven't read it but plan to, you might give this post a miss, but I'm not really revealing all that much, and we're only on about page 260 of 1000+ so take that for what you will. Anyway, let's get on with it.
Last night was Atlas Shrugged night. Every Tuesday I have been going to a great little wine bar in Pasadena to discuss Atlas Shrugged, chapter by chapter, with a really great bunch of folks from this MeetUp group. Chapter 8, The John Galt Line, is a really wonderful chapter where you see Dagny Taggart building the John Galt (railroad) Line out in the mountains of Colorado. Hank Rearden figures heavily in the chapter as well, since it's his Rearden Metal that's being used for the rail and a major bridge on the railroad they're building.
In essence, you see time and again how they put their minds to solving the problems that face them, and then apply their skills to execute the solutions. Then they triumphantly open the line, ride the first train to Wyatt Junction amid great fanfare, and have a hot (and I mean HOT), romantic (like only Ayn Rand can write) night together at Ellis Wyatt's place.
One of the other people in our group made an interesting comment towards the end of the evening: how one of the themes of the chapter is mind-body integration. As we discussed that, it suddenly occurred to me precisely why I am so unhappy with the house I live in, here in L.A.
It's a nice enough house, and downright cute by many peoples' standards. It was built in the early 1920s and has lots of original features: lovely fireplace, window seat, glass front bookshelves, even a built-in buffet in the dining room with a beveled mirror and glass doors. It has 2 bedrooms, a sunroom, 1 1/2 baths, and nearly all the woodwork is either in its original finish or stripped and restored.
I used to live next door, but I sold that house in 2006 (timed it perfectly!) and used most of my proceeds to pay down this house and make some improvements here and there. But, I have had seller's remorse pretty much ever since.
That house was built at almost the same time and has the same exact fireplace mine has; it has a big open living/dining room, and a much more efficient floor plan. Even though it is smaller than this house, it feels much more spacious inside. It is also set up higher and has way better daylight inside.
My current house always seems dark inside to me, and the rooms (especially downstairs) are divided up awkwardly. It is hard to furnish, although a piano can make many houses hard to furnish. It has a lot of nice features, but it has poor light, poor connection to the outdoors, and the floor plan is really awkward, I think. Awkward floor plans are a huge pet peeve of this architect, btw.
Here's why the comment about mind-body integration resonated with me so strongly: I've been working very hard, for years now, to integrate my life into a complete whole, a multifaceted single unit, where each part supports the and enhances the other parts, as I work to achieve my goals and dreams.
This house undercuts a major part of that effort. For all its cool features and charm, it is fundamentally at odds with the type of backdrop I need to live my best life. Thus, I am constantly expending energy trying to counter-act it, or working to overcome it, without really identifying the problem (except to bemoan that I sold the wrong house, which is water under the bridge at this point, and a further waste of energy and time to contemplate for even one second.)
What a revelation!