What is the American Dream? A house in the suburbs with the picket fence and everything else we’ve always believed it to be right? Perhaps. I know I used to think so, however I recently began to question and rethink what the American Dream could actually be. That’s not to say it doesn’t include the house with the picket fence, it’s just that America wasn’t founded due to a demand for houses with picket fences. Tyranny, oppression, birth rights, life or death at the will of a monarch were the status quo of the day. America was founded on risk takers. We wanted to break out of the norm, explore the vast unknown, conquer the wild, and all the while free to live as we pleased. Above all, America was a place of opportunity.
I’m not going to say we’ve had a perfect history, because we certainly haven’t and things have certainly changed a bit since we started. We’ve explored the land, tamed the environment as best we could, and we’re still mostly free. Breaking out of the societal norm however, seems to be something foreign to us these days. Work, school, reality tv, throw in the occasional vacation and it pretty much sums up most of the lives of Americans. Why does almost everyone fit in that description? We’ve settled because it’s easy, safe, comfortable.
When was the last time you took a risk? I mean a real risk, on the scale of leaving your home to move far away, not knowing what you’d encounter along the way or when you got there? When was the last time you did something where you didn’t know how it would turn out? Something that was both frightening and exciting at the same time? American has certainly left it’s stamp on the world and earned a few chapters with of world history due to our accomplishments to boot, but our spirit is waning. I feel like we’ve lost our way. Institutionalized, by a prison we built for ourselves, but with more arts and crafts time in the yard. Killing time while we wait for it to kill us.
In all honesty, the American dream is whatever you would like it to be. Suburban homes, picket fences, a decent job can all be yours if you really want it. For me, I wanted the traditional American dream at one point in time, but not so much now. You only get one spin on this rock and I’d like a bit more than what life just happens to give me.
Life is a gamble, no matter how you play. It’s only a matter of what you’re willing to risk that makes it that much better.