To give an example, when I wanted to study arts in school and college, according to a lot of people I was being selfish. To explain, in India studying arts basically means you're not going to have a very good career. This was selfish because my parents have two daughters and I'm the eldest and I should think of supporting them in the future. By studying arts, I am selfishly flushing my future down the toilet and also not thinking of what will happen to my parents. BUT, arts is what I wanted to do so thats what I studied and I am lucky my parents don't think like the rest of the pack. I was selfish, but in the way Howard Roark describes - the way that makes you happy within, and what ultimately makes you a better person because you are thinking for yourself, living with a complete consciousness of the self.
I am not very good at reviewing books that inspire me so much (there are two or three of these at the moment) so hence I just had to describe how it influences me. I'll end it by quoting Howard Roark and some of the things he says about the importance of self and of second handers and why it is important for every person to be self-ish and not live their own live second hand.
"In the realm of greatest importance - the realm of values, of judgment, of spirit, of thought - they place others above self, in the exact manner which altruism demands. A truly selfish man cannot be affected by the approval of others. He doesn't need it."
"The only cardinal evil on earth is that of placing your prime concern within other men."
"If any man stopped and asked himself, whether he's ever held a truly personal desire, he'd find the answer. He'd see that all his wishes, his efforts, his dreams, his ambitions are motivated by other men. He's not really struggling even for material wealth, but for the second-hander's delusion - prestige. A stamp of approval, not his own. He can find no joy in the struggle and no joy when he has succeeded.
- Howard Roark
When the going gets tough, Howard Roark's words often inspire me into realising that no matter what anyone else thinks or believes, at the end of the day, I am still doing what makes me happy and so my achievements will give me a joy that no one else will understand. That alone is often enough to keep me going! :)