A Quote to Live By

‘I’m going to build because I want to build.

Kira Argounova, We the Living

Though her indifference and relatively abstract taste draws criticism from her family, Kira Argounova from Ayn Rand’s We the Living displays a will that is a force to be reckoned with.

This passion seems to contradict Kira’s usual indifference. It seems strange that a someone like Kira, who barely registers what’s going on around her, would want to be so involved with creating the world in which she lives. What’s even more peculiar is that Kira chooses to work in the “…modern favorite profession of theirs [the Soviets]… [an] engineer”, though she does not support Communism and is a White (1). It seems logical that Kira, who claims to enjoy building, would go into a field that would allow her to build: engineering.

However, Kira’s mother, sister, and cousin all disagree in the name of feminity. Kira’s mother, Galina simply can’t believe that a daughter of hers would stoop to do such work and Lydia, Kira’s sister, chimes in, saying that it would be dirty and that there would be no women to confide in. Victor advises his cousin to become a typist, remarking that it is not such a bad starting place for a woman to rise in ranks and that the rations are good. He is similarly appalled that she should make such a choice and suggests that she reconsider, a thought that Kira shuts down almost immediately.

Though Kira is definitely stubborn, I can’t help but admire her resoluteness and focus. True, she only focuses on what she likes and doesn’t have much regard for “normal” activities, but her unwavering decision to do as she likes is something to admire. Many of the characters in the book cannot claim to be living as they want to or doing as they wish. If they are trying, they are doing it timidly, fearful of their own desires. Kira isn’t controlled by the standards of feminity, as her mother and sister are nor by party dictates as her cousin is. Whether she be a socialite in the making in Russia or a citizen of the Soviet Union, Kira is ultimately, just Kira.

  1. White: supporter of the army that fought against the idea of Bolshevik socialism; a variety of political stances were represented
A Quote to Live By

End of This Road

Key moments in life come and go; sometimes you’ll know when you’re in the moment and sometimes reflection deems a memory important. Yesterday, I spent a little over 2 hours playing what I’d been working on the whole summer: a ten-piece piano program that consisted of 64 pages of memorized music and various technique requirements.

I have participated in this same ten-piece program every summer since I started piano (with less intensive requirements though, of course), but it’s a bit of a shock to look back and see how much has been snowballing over the years. Who knew that the me that struggled with memorizing a 6-page sonata movement would be able to memorize a 21-page full sonata or that the me that used to scoff at practice would be able to buckle down for a weekend and memorize a piece?

This last summer performance of my high school years was fittingly a little strange. Sure, there’s still a judge, ten pieces and a grand piano, but the small conversations about the composers made the difference. I wasn’t just playing pieces for a judge to hear; I was sharing my interpretation of a piece of music and receiving critique from a judge. It’s hard to put in words, but the fact that the judge took time and shared little tid-bits about the composer reminded me that the composers were living people. It’s easy to put them on a pedestal, but they were human too. They had their own hardships and joys, which would come to shape their music, which we appreciate today.

With yesterday in the past, I feel as if I have parted with an old friend. I feel a little blue, but life’s like that. There will be things I’ll forget or regret and drive back for and things that gather like dust, slowly until I suddenly notice one day. There will be times that I have to take a rest-stop and pull over at the next exit. However, a rest is only temporary and soon enough, I’ll begin again. The end of one road is the start of another.

End of This Road