The American Dream..what is it?
Inspired by Brandons thread about being rich....
The American Dream oes it still exist? and if it does, is it necessarily a good thing? Is there more than one American Dream? Heres is one of the prevalent ones today:
You get through your 12 years of school with good grades so that you can enter a good college and then work our butts off for 4 plus years so that we can get a good job with the hopes of being promoted, all the time finding a spouse and having kids and giving them nice things, and getting nice cars and a house with the big green yard and a lawnmower to mow the lawn because we cant have a dirty yard and we buy nice things for each other then we send our kids off to college with the hopes that we taught them how to be successful then we pack up our things and move to Florida once we have scrounged up enough money to survive after the age of 65 (or earlier if we were lucky) so that we can sit around and play shuffleboard or collect stamps until we die.
Granted, I had a negative slant on it but that has been the gist of what I would call the American dream, or at least how society wants us to see it. Well, I just want to say,
what a crock.
Why do we as a society conform to this? Why am I expected to work for so long so that I can "enjoy" my golden years because apparently once I reach a certain age I am no longer considered a productive member of society?
I am a big believer in the idea that we all have a purpose here on earth, and I don't believe that my purpose was to live the last 20 years of my life wearing socks and sandals with my Bermuda shorts. I don't want to buy into the dream society has set up for me.
Ever since I left Georgia Tech awhile ago I have struggled as to whether or not I should go to another school or go ahead and get a career ad worry about how I am going to support a family and where I am going to liveand blah blah blah...and I feel myself getting sucked into the "dream." Some days I just wonder how much more fulfilling and easy my life would be to sell everything I have and move to a third world country to help people who don't have a fraction of what I have already experienced. If only it was as easy as I say it. Maybe its because I am 21 now and Idealistic...or maybe its because I know that there is more in store for me than monday night football and a recliner.
Does anyone else feel this way sometimes? Does anyone else feel like our lives are missing something?
Wow, chipbgt, of course you don't have to follow anyone else's dream but your own.
There WILL be people who look at you as if you were loony, just because you choose to be different.
And if you fail at what you do, or get derailed by misfortunes and have to start over, there will be plenty of people to tell you where you went wrong...
The dream you cited is the sort of lowest-common-denominator dream that was actually the mark of success in the early post-war era. If you weren't successful, you DIDN'T get the spouse, kids, cars, house, lawn, or the lawnmower, or the dog... hey, you left out the dog....
An unmarried guy living in an apartment or flat, working a starter job for life, no responsibilities, no committments... hey, that used to have a name: loser. My parents still think the same way. Um, I'm glad they still call me their son, anyway.
But the Sixties were largely a rebellion against that, and Idealism gave us the opinion that destiny called us for better things.
The Peace Corps still exists. People ARE free to define their own destinies in ways that would have been unimaginable when my parents were born. You CAN be more than a cog in the machine.
And just maybe, not following other's formulae for success, you will achieve success, however you choose to define it.
I had a buddy when I was a teen who worked at the Exxon station repairing cars. He had a really flash 1968 Camaro, hot yellow, a really gorgeous car. It ATE Cobras as a breakfast snack.
He was in his mid-thirties and unmarried, paid well for what he did, drank way too much, played pool like a physics genius. He was my definition of "cool". I hung around a lot, trying to learn how to be him in a teenager sort of way.
I knew him for two years before I knew he had gone to college. When I found him out, I never realy looked at him the same way. He had a degree in Chemistry, and had worked as a polymer chemist at a company that made aluminum cans (he developed coating technologies). One day he had enough of corporate culture, told them to kiss off, and started working on cars.
My idol was a "failure". Well, not to him. And he had every right to "do his own thing". Whatever makes you happy is okay, isn't it?
And before I knew all that stuff about him, I was fascinated with him. My change of attitude was because I had thought of him as a man who had reached his potential and that plateau was a good match for the man.
I later thought of him as a man who had MUCH more going for him, and chose instead to drink a lot and have no responsibilities other than to himself, a man simply underachieving because it was easy, taking the easy way out.
My assessment of him over time has mellowed. I sometimes (okay, many times) have had the urge to wipe an employer off my bootheel and keep walking.
But I still believe that, whether one is a part of the machinery of the world, or caught up in its maw, or chooses to be free of it and build one's own world, you should be the "best that you can be".
And, I have to admit, my buddy was the best mechanic I have ever seen. I just wonder if he ever regretted choosing the path he chose. I wonder if every time he looked down the little teardrop hole on the top of a Bud can, he was reminded of it.
You can only BE your truly best if your heart is in it. But your heart and head both have to live with you for the rest of your life. If you feel you should aim higher, do it... and be proud of all you do. But don't shoot your arrow to no target in particular; wasting arrows like that is a Capital Offense.
chip, go watch fear and loathing in las vegas, interesting movie on the american dream.
I believe that are lives are pretty empty. We are here to reproduce, thats what our original goal was. But we HAD to evolve into a higher thinking creature, which just caused so many problems.
Our thoughts are mostly materialistic nowadays. Who has the best car, nicest house, biggest yacht, it makes me sick. I'm pretty happy just being here, not trying to compete with anyone else.
The last person i dated was so materialistic and bent on how people think of her, and it was annoying. How can you let someone else lead your life? It was her version of the american dream, to have others see her just that tiny bit more important.
The american dream has been jaded by greed...
The true "American Dream" is to be free to do what makes you happy. The country was founded on the priciple of liberty for all at a time when that idea was just a dream. Sure, I'd like to be rich, but I try to remember to be happy I have even the chance to.
My Dream has always been to design, operate, and own the best **** miniature golf course on the planet. Seriously.
But, here I am stuck in an OK programming job making OK money having an OK amount of fun and a basically OK life.
But do you want to settle for just an OK life? I guess that was the point of writing this......whats stopping you from doing it?
Well, no, of course I want something better than an "OK" life. I mean, don't get me wrong, I have a pretty good life, but it's those dreams - like the golf course or writing a novel or being an actor - that seem to dullen the everyday type stuff.
Why haven't I followed my dreams? I don't know. It's hard to know where to begin! How do you even begin thinking about building a custom miniature golf course? Who do I talk to about commercial zoning? I suppose I should just hit the road and find out. There's always some risk involved, though, and I think it's that risk that keeps me anchored in my average life....
This is definitly a good thought-provoking thread!
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