All too often, I hear people saying “When I have the house, I’ll be OK. When I find someone to love me. When I have a baby.”
No, you won’t be OK.
Those things are nice – but you don’t have to have those things to be fixed, and having those things won’t fix you.
What you’re supposed to do is to do every bit of work it takes to be OK. Once you’ve done that, then strive for the house, the garden, for love to work itself out properly.
You can definitely get all those things before you’re OK – but if you do it without seeing to the health of your own spirit first, all that just becomes part of the damage. Then you’ve just brought up another generation of people that are damaged, and need to learn how to be OK all over again.
Now that I’m approaching 40 I see less of it, but in my 20s and 30s I saw so many people overextending themselves financially or turning relationships into living nightmares because they invested so heavily in the belief that “having it all” was the only way to get right with life. Success might be measured by the kind of house or car you own, or by the children you have – but not by anyone you’d want actually making that judgment.
The house and car is right for some people. That might not be you.
The bicycle and backpack life is right for some people. That might not be you.
The babies and housewife-land might be right for some people. That might not be you.
The American dream of the 1950s – the white picket fence to a house in the suburbs, the two cars, the Valium-addled woman at home and the pipe smoking man smugly mowing his lawn on Saturday is just one dream. It’s NOT an assignment.
The only American dream that matters – and I suspect this does apply to both continents and the isthmus – is the dream of independence. We’ve given over that independence for cars and TVs, for companies that produce the paint on that picket fence and even forked over our names to somebody else’s idea of marriage.
The advertised American dream is marketing-riddled bullshit. The only real American dream is your own – the one where you have independence, however that need is filled.