I haven’t really blogged in a while. There are some good reasons, but so many excuses. Rather than talk about that, I want to talk to you about what I want to talk about.
Shane Koyczan is a God among men. It has been ages since I’ve questioned my view of Atlas, yet like lightning, Shane has struck and changed my deepest set foundation. It comes so easy to me to say that the most influential words of my life had been written years before I was born, and certainly, it could be true. Yet, I forget that I am writing the words that influence me now. I have become the author of my own philosophy, the editor of my own life. In high school I became so angry because an editor had “accidentally” omitted a word in a short story I wrote. She omitted the pain. And as beautifully poetic as it sounds, it was in the confession of a confused boy who had killed a girl because “could bear her [pain] no longer.”
Oh the prophecies our lives reveal when we reflect… I have killed no one. Not literally, and I suppose he hadn’t either… But I digress.
When I was young, I too was a lover of mythology. I remember that as a young boy, my mom had so much faith in God(s?) and hope in the world. She taught me about God in the story of The Fox and the Crane, The Lion and the Mouse, and The Judgement of Solomon. Sure, we went to Hindu temples and I soon learned that my mother was taught by nuns. Yet, she bows her head to Buddha and respects the pope. My mother was the first and still is the greatest truly spiritual person I have ever known. She is an angel. It is no surprise that I fell into all the mythologies of the world. The most important belief she passed on to me was that literary truth is more important than literal truth.
The second most important was that your truth doesn’t have to be anyone else’s truth, but you should let others’ truths help shape yours. Hitler’s truths shape my truths as do the Dalai Lama’s. Plants turn manure and sunshine into flowers. My mother taught me that.
Ayn Rand tells the story of Atlas and literally asks, “If you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders, if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling but still trying to hold the world aloft with the last of his strength, and the greater his effort the heavier the world bore down upon his shoulders – What would you tell him?”
I will not use this space to define or defend Rand’s philosophies, but instead to tell you why I love her characters. I love Frisco because he says that he would ask Atlas to shrug. This is not an easy thing for him to say. This is a man who was born a millionaire and who doubled his inherited fortune and then abandoned it. As a true romantic who does not believe in divorce, filing for divorce was not cheap. I will forever question if shrugging was the right move. Was it the last of my strength? Was it weakness? The answer, every time so far, has been yes, it was certainly the right move. I won’t lie and say I’m done thinking about it and questioning it. I won’t lie and say I regret it. It was hard. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
But Shane reminds me of the other side of Atlas. Although I’ve never heard the stories where Atlas was not being punished, he reminds me that the Titans were all punished appropriately. Atlas holds the earth without letting it crash. He doesn’t shrug. Shane brings it back to me that I am Atlas. Rand makes me know why I want to be Atlas, but Shane’s poetry reminds me how simple it is to be Atlas. All you need is the NEED to hold the earth on your shoulders. Atlas’s greatest strength is that he cannot shrug. It is also his greatest weakness. It is the chain that holds him in bondage. It is the chain that holds me in bondage. It is why I look around my house and feel like I sit in the ruins of the Earth. My life is easy to walk away from. I miss holding the stars in the sky for someone else. My home, my life was cleaner and much more beautiful.
So now, I look for another Atlas. I look for a woman who needs to hold the stars in the sky for me. Her head in the clouds, stars in her eyes and her feet firmly planted in the ground. I want a woman who will put up with my weakness and recognize my strength. I want a woman who will hold my share of the earth when I cannot and will be the reason that I cannot let it crash down around me. I will hold the earth for you. Forever. Blood running down my chest, knees buckling, with the last of my strength. I will do this because it is all I know. It is my weakness and my greatest strength. It is me.
I have shrugged. I have walked away. I am putting it all back together. I have friends who I love and for whom I will do just about anything. I want a partner because then I know I can never give up on me. I don’t need someone to live for. I need someone to live with. To share each day and a million thoughts and a few quiet looks. To share a couch and a blanket and conversation. To share a sly smile and thinly veiled adult humor around children. Sure, this is not what his poem was about and his message is great, but I needed a reminder of my Achilles heel.
So today, I have the answer. If I saw Atlas, I would say, “Here let me help. My mother always taught me that many hands make light work.”
That is his message, by the way.