Day 4 & 5 The American Dream Deferred

How does the American Dream Really Measure Up ?

Work hard, save up, invest, buy a house, send your kids to college, get a boat, buy a nice car, buy a bigger car, get a lake house, donate money to charity and all your dreams will come true. Generations of immigrants, and newly minted Americans were fed this story from first settlers, in the northeast, to the gold rush and reconstruction of the American West, to the migration of freed slaves from the south to the cities of the North, the same idea was repeated over and over; if you invest enough you too will get to taste the sweet nectar of success and prosperity. Here, in the grandest city of all; New York, they add the overused tagline- If you can make it here you can make it anywhere.

Like that old Sinatra song, there is an air of old school musty glory to this idea that if you can survive a city that can rough you up and spit you out, you will then receive the ever coveted shield to forge on toward any dream you could possibly have. With that seedling of a dream, millions, and millions of people with nothing left to lose came to this city’s shores and still do.

For some it works, for others, they work themselves to the bone to achieve something that is quite plainly unseen. I followed this model or parts of this story of glory for the formative years of my life. I went to an American College, took out a loan, finished school, got a degree, went to work at an arts organization, built my credit, kept paying off my loan, moved to London, moved to Athens, kept working, built a business, got in debt, paid my debt, kept paying off my college loan, and now at an age when all this should have been figured out I find myself working from the ground up, again. Something the American dream never took into consideration: Failure.

And it begs the question.

Is the American dream more of an American nightmare?

Is the mere act of trying to squeeze every single morsel of time, energy and effort for a supposed image of success, causing more irreparable harm? Is there something wrong with people who don’t fulfill it.? Over the years I’ve questioned the validity of the construct of this model; not only because it’s parameters seem to exclude more and more groups of people, but also because of the carrot of success it at a great cost to achieving it.

This idea of a self made, successful man, and let’s face it it’s always a man; with everything he could ever want, that will build himself up from scratch and pave the way for future generations, has been a poster image of success for as long as this construct has existed. It has been adopted by other countries ( Including Greece) and cultures with absolutely no background in such a formula, sometimes ( always) with disastrous results; because the formula is fundamentally flawed. The experiment isn’t working if it ever did, and it certainly won’t work any more. The idea no longer holds water, the marketing campaign for the work hard and be rewarded paradigm is sitting on rotting ground, and the boat even though it was meant to withstand choppy water, is ultimately being capsized in the perfect storm. We lost sign of the dream, because it was based on a false narrative.

Where will the “dream” go next? This is not for me to say. What I can say for certain is this: success isn’t in the money we make, or the cars we drive, or the houses we buy. Success isn’t how many followers we have, or how much sex we’ve had or who emulates us. Success is not any of these things. Sure that’s all grand and of course nothing about achieving those goals is bad; but for me success is having a clearer understanding of failure. Success is failure’s companion and one person’s dream could truly be another person’s nightmare. Ultimately I would rather fail at the American dream, and succeed at having a few good people in my life that I can truly be connected with.

For now I leave it to you dear readers to decide.

Till the next episode.

Good night and Good luck.

Random Thoughts- The Value of Money

Value and Cost.

I’ll be honest… If I won the lottery tomorrow I would quit my job, pay my family’s debt, take up art, writing, and yoga studies full-time, go to massage therapy school, learn French and Spanish again, and travel….. a lot. Last month the mega millions lottery in the U.S was one of the biggest ever recorded in lottery history, and it got me thinking about what money buys us. It purchases the opportunity to access, connects us with services not available to people without money. It buys status, and privilege. What it definitely doesn’t get us is happiness, or love or meaningful connection with other people. It’s a cliché for a reason; money can’t buy peace of mind, and we’ve all seen how that ends up time and time again.

What, truly do these pieces of paper that we’ve deemed equivalent to denominations of value actually do for us?

What does money afford us and what does it take away. I’m not talking about exorbitant amounts of money or even the mega millions jackpot, but a large amount of money for any average person.

Money for as much as it provides, allows, or gains access to; it equally separates us in so many ways.

Access to money, especially in a very expensive city like New York, can purchase time, expensive things, convenience; but never any of the things that actually matter to us.

Yet here we are all working three and four jobs, just to pay our bills. We do jobs, instead of following our calling. We work in offices punching keyboards instead of creating wealth of knowledge and understanding for each other. We save up to retire so we can travel or buy that car we always wanted. We break our health and sanity to make copious amounts of money that buys things, monetary comfort when years, decades go by and we still struggle with pain, loneliness, fear, isolation, depression, and sickness.

In the end… What would you do with a 250 million dollars?