Friends of Leonard Peikoff have been concerned about his health. Over the last few years, he has not been well, and recently he was hospitalized with COVID. Believing that he was still unwell, I was surprised when he asked to have dinner with me. We got together last night, and I was even more surprised. We had dinner at my home (filet mignon, black and blue—his favorite). He looked wonderful—the best I’ve seen him in many years. Physically, he looks fresh and healthy; he’s walking better, and he can get up from a low chair without using his hands, just using his thigh muscles. He demonstrated it for me. Try it. It’s not easy, particularly once you get older. Even younger people still mostly use their hands to help them get out of a chair. He is now working out 75 minutes a day, and he is on a healthy diet.
He is spiritually buoyant, sharp, energetic, and loving his life, particularly his passion and engagement with operetta, a love he shared with Ayn Rand—they listened to and watched operettas frequently, particularly Kalman and Lehar. His love of operetta has been revitalized. He went on at length and discussed the appeal, emotional range, stories, and the generally happy endings of this amazing art form.
He’s working on a full-length lecture about the value of operetta, supplemented with video and audio, which he expects to deliver in April with the assistance of Lisa VanDamme. Lisa has limited room for in-person attendance at her home, but will open it up through Zoom. Lisa and Leonard share a love of the arts and have enjoyed literature and poetry together for many years.
He explained his planned presentation vividly, and I thought: “Count me in. I want to attend.” I’ve not been a student or even a fan of operetta particularly, but I will attend Leonard’s presentation—in person, if possible. If you would like an invitation to the Zoom event, please send me your contact information and I’ll forward it to Lisa.
We talked about a range of things for over three hours, including his daughter, Kira, who has gone back to New Jersey with her family. I talked with him about the book I’m writing about prequests and the gratitude which prompted it. We discussed the ways in which the book will encourage readers to work with a coach to develop a “happiness plan.” Leonard gave me suggestions and advice on these topics and others. He suggested some titles for the book, such as: Prequests: Before the Will or Before the Will: Prequests. We’ll see.
He also surprised me by raising the Dennis Prager discussion with Craig Biddle, “A Dialogue About God and Ayn Rand,” and his desire to watch it. He said that he has listened to and likes some of Prager’s works and respects him as intelligent, thoughtful, and benevolent (notwithstanding Prager’s religiosity).
Leonard still receives loads of questions, suggestions, and proposals on Objectivism and general philosophy. He said that he spent a lifetime with Objectivism and answering questions. If he were to continue doing so now, he would have no time in his life for anything else. So, his firm policy is to not engage, answer questions, provide suggestions, or review proposals. He doesn’t want to discuss ARI or any other organization, and he absolutely does not want to hear about any conflicts or disputes. He wants to explore different values now. That is what he’s doing, and he’s loving it.
I know there are many people who are grateful and who admire and love Leonard, and I thought you would like to hear this good news about his good health.