The Tao of Roark

by Peter Saint-Andre

Chapter 36: The Spirit of Youth

Previous: Chapter 35: The Noble Soul

Just as the boy on the bicycle was captivated by Monadnock Valley, so The Fountainhead appeals deeply to young people who seek joy and reason and meaning in life. Rand's novel is a confirmation of the spirit of youth, capturing the almost-painful sense of expectation with which a young person can enter into the greater world. Think of those in the courtroom as Roark takes the stand at his trial, who for a moment see him as he really is and who feel the same potential in themselves: independent, strong, capable, courageous, benevolent, clean, innocent, fearless, free.

Is that radiant picture an illusion? Do the curiosity and idealism of youth need to cool and harden into a passionless wisdom — energy and enthusiasm into a settled maturity — openness and flexibility into a cautious security — courage and daring into a conservative practicality?

Perhaps not.

Perhaps, instead, true security comes from self-reliance, from the strength of my skills, from the health of my body, from self-control and self-mastery, from limiting my needs and desires to what is natural and becoming of a liberated individual, from fellowship with chosen friends who honor the same values I do.

Perhaps true practicality comes from cultivating the deepest sense of who I am, from immersion in life, from an unwavering focus on what matters, from knowing the name of my soul.

Perhaps true maturity comes from holding onto the right ideals, from self-respect and respect for others, from a strong sense of personal responsibility, from continually improving myself, from becoming who I am and what I can be.

Perhaps true wisdom comes from the passionate search for passionless truth, from endlessly seeking new experiences, from always seeing the world with fresh eyes, from never succumbing to conventional categories or party lines, from being authentic and direct in my dealings with self and others.

Next: Chapter 37: Freedom

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