Cribb Comment: I honestly believe that the point Rand so eloquently describes below is one of the major, if not the primary, reason(s) that creates disruption and confusion in the relationships that I have personally attempted to foster. I respectfully remind and emphasize to the reader that this author is a woman, an Alpha, and a person possessing a very high level of awareness. She is also describing her vision of the ideal man in this passage. In other words her description is not a critique of the heroic (male) character, but an illustration of how his idealness is interpreted by others (the herd or masses of humanity). The female in the passage (the questioner) is explaining the general “programmed” feeling and visceral anxiety/fear that the masses perceive when they find themselves simply in the presence of an honest entity that lives life with its due true respect and to its fullest potential. The passage is not suggesting that the heroic character (male) is actually “un-normal” or “so damn serious” or “old” or “uncomfortable”. It is not. It is saying that his presence is so full of life…true life and respect and awareness, and that the rest of the world has chosen to be so unaware, so oblivious, so insignificant, and so empty in their lives, that his presence makes this painful truth too obvious to them when he is in their company. He is not forcing her to make a choice, but his aura or gravity refuses to allow her to remain deluded from the madness and insanity of the rest of the world. She suffers anxiety and fear feeling trapped between one entity (our heroic male) that is actually truly alive and the opposing communal comfort of “rest of the world” that she has always been taught is normal, when in reality they are dead, empty, and numb.
“Do you always have to have a purpose? Do you always have to be so damn serious? Can’t you ever do things without a reason, just like everybody else? You’re so serious, so old. Everything’s important with you; everything’s great, significant in some way, every minute, even when you keep still. Can’t you ever be comfortable―and unimportant?”
“Don’t you get tired of the heroic?”
“What’s heroic about me?”
“Nothing. Everything. I don’t even know. It’s not what you do. It’s what you make people feel around you.”
“The un-normal. The strain. When I’m with you―it’s always like a choice. Between you―and the rest of the world. I don’t want that kind of a choice. I don’t want to be an outsider. I want to belong. There’s so much in the world that’s simple and pleasant. It’s not all fighting and renunciation. It is―with you.”
Ayn Rand 1943