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Michael Stuart Kelly

Today is Barbara's Birthday--An Homage

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Today is Barbara's Birthday--An Homage

Today a most exceptional woman is celebrating her birthday.

She was an intimate of Ayn Rand--to the point of sharing Rand's lover, she was a disciple, she became an outcast from the very Randian circle she helped create, she became Rand's best-selling biographer and blew the cover off many of the false parts of Rand's legend while coming into her own as a highly skilled, unique-voiced author, she is and always has been a beautiful woman, and finally, she is a sage.

I believe this last is her best gift to the world--for any who will listen.

There are no words that can properly express the sense of gratitude I feel for knowing Barbara. At one of the worst moments in my life, looking out at the world through drug-filtered eyes from a small dingy apartment in São Paulo, Brazil, where hope had become a stranger, I saw a ray of light. I read Barbara's biography, The Passion of Ayn Rand, and for the first time in ages, I felt that the world actually could make sense. I hadn't felt that way since the time I had discovered Ayn Rand's works. Barbara's writing filled in the holes, both in the myths surrounding Rand and in my own understanding of myself, since I had failed miserably at forging my soul in Rand's image.

I got a glimpse of what life could be like where it was OK to be me, not a carbon copy of another, where I could take and personally own Rand's best ideas--by my own choice and discernment--and add them to my life instead of adding my life to them. That I could leave the rest behind and that's OK. Barbara showed me that the parts that didn't make any sense actually did make sense, but the reasons had been hidden under Rand's carefully guarded public image--the one that she had wanted to project, not the one that was real. By extension, this showed me that my vision was not the problem, that worked just fine, but instead that parts of the information I was being fed were misleading.

It's almost childish to say the following, but this is what happened. I got a blinding flash in that dim environment as I read Barbara's bio. The notion flooded my mind that if Ayn Rand had inner conflicts and had to fight them, then who was I to complain about mine? And who was I to feel flawed at the core for having them? That was powerful medicine for a very sick soul back then. This is the gift Barbara gave me from a continent away and without knowing me.

I could go on all day about this stuff, but it's Barbara's day, not mine.

And what about this woman who gave up so much to present truth to the world? She was Ayn Rand's designated heiress and walked away from it because to remain would mean to pretend to be something she was not. She betrayed a promise she made to Ayn Rand to keep certain information hidden from the public because a lot of nastiness and outright weirdness was growing from the falsehoods. So she gave the world the truth. Anyone who values their word knows what the inner cost of this is.

Well, she got a best-selling book that has become a classic in Rand scholarship, and she got a successful movie from it. But the splash from that time has passed. What does she have now from the world? What has the world given her in return for her commitment to truth and wisdom? What does the world think about the sage Barbara Branden?

There are two main things I can think of, one not so good and one very good.

Hatred is never a good thing on a fundamental level and Barbara has become well hated by people of a certain mind. I hold that this is an honor. It is better not to be hated, but if you must, it is good to know that you are hated by people with bad intentions because your truth is a big honking obstacle to their manipulations. But this is a temporary honor. Such hatred will eventually pass over time as it burns up in the flame of truth.

The world also gives Barbara the love and respect of many, many individuals of good will and independent thought. I know I love her. Kat does, too. So many good souls. So many gentle kind people. So many producers. So many people of good character. Being loved by these folks is an honor, too, but one that does not die. This love grows over time and is passed on to the next generations.

I suspect Barbara has touched the lives of many people as intensely as she has touched mine, in ways suited to their experience, and, even though they are not as vocal about it as I am, they feel the deep love and honor I do. If it were possible to gather all these people into one place and count them, I believe everyone would be surprised at the size of Barbara's fan club.

These thoughts run through my mind as I contemplate Barbara's birthday. So this is where I am coming from when I say the following.

To Barbara--from the very best within me--and Kat--we wish you the happiest birthday of your life. We wish you many, many more. You have graced our lives with your presence and this light will only pass in our hearts when we do. Know that you are well loved, well honored and well appreciated.

Michael

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Today is Barbara's Birthday--An Homage

Today a most exceptional woman is celebrating her birthday.

She was an intimate of Ayn Rand--to the point of sharing Rand's lover, she was a disciple, she became an outcast from the very Randian circle she helped create, she became Rand's best-selling biographer and blew the cover off many of the false parts of Rand's legend while coming into her own as a highly skilled, unique-voiced author, she is and always has been a beautiful woman, and finally, she is a sage.

I believe this last is her best gift to the world--for any who will listen.

There are no words that can properly express the sense of gratitude I feel for knowing Barbara. At one of the worst moments in my life, looking out at the world through drug-filtered eyes from a small dingy apartment in São Paulo, Brazil, where hope had become a stranger, I saw a ray of light. I read Barbara's biography, The Passion of Ayn Rand, and for the first time in ages, I felt that the world actually could make sense. I hadn't felt that way since the time I had discovered Ayn Rand's works. Barbara's writing filled in the holes, both in the myths surrounding Rand and in my own understanding of myself, since I had failed miserably at forging my soul in Rand's image.

I got a glimpse of what life could be like where it was OK to be me, not a carbon copy of another, where I could take and personally own Rand's best ideas--by my own choice and discernment--and add them to my life instead of adding my life to them.

Adding ideas to one's life instead of adding one's life to ideas. What a difference this approach makes! It protects against blindly following any doctrine.

And what about this woman who gave up so much to present truth to the world? She was Ayn Rand's designated heiress and walked away from it because to remain would mean to pretend to be something she was not. She betrayed a promise she made to Ayn Rand to keep certain information hidden from the public because a lot of nastiness and outright weirdness was growing from the falsehoods. So she gave the world the truth. Anyone who values their word knows what the inner cost of this is.

So very true.

The world also gives Barbara the love and respect of many, many individuals of good will and independent thought. I know I love her. Kat does, too. So many good souls. So many gentle kind people. So many producers. So many people of good character. Being loved by these folks is an honor, too, but one that does not die. This love grows over time and is passed on to the next generations.

And isn't it love which which, for most humans, surpasses mere 'life' as the highest value? Even in Rand's own work, there can be found evidence of this, like in John Galt's being prepared to give his own life for Dagny.

I suspect Barbara has touched the lives of many people as intensely as she has touched mine, in ways suited to their experience, and, even though they are not as vocal about it as I am, they feel the deep love and honor I do.

I'm no Objectivist, but I can feel it too.

Barbara's biography of Rand has had a profound impact on me.

She brought Rand to life as a human being. I have cried tears for Ayn Rand when reading the biography. She had been denied so much, especially in her early years. Rejected by an unloving mother, and rejected by a political system denying her and her family so much of what we have come to take for granted.

Edited by Xray

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Michael,

I am more touched by and grateful for your words that I know how to say. Thank you, my dear friend. If I helped you at a bad time in your life, that is a great reward for me.

And my thanks to Jerry and Xray and Adam and to all those whose good wishes helped to make this a very happy birthday for me.

Barbara

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