Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Trendy American Dream

Or more like American Dream Trends?

In the early 1900’s the American Dream was to have a “good job,” and by that, we meant a steady income that would pay your bills. The kind of job you would start when you were 18 and stick with until retirement.

Eighty years ago the American Dream was to have food on the table and a place to live. The Great Depression was a nightmare – the exact opposite of that earlier dream – yet those I know who lived through it were stronger for having done so.

In the mid-1900’s the American Dream was to be able to afford a single-family home (for your single family of mom, dad, and 2.5 kids), with a “his and hers” car set in the garage. Ah, the return of materialism.

In the 80’s the American Dream was the high-powered career. Think Melanie Griffith in “Working Girl,” minus the shoulder pads. Double incomes were the toast of the town, and except for that bit of recession at the beginning, the decade led rather nicely to the lucrative 90’s.

Today the American Dream is to have a job you enjoy, a career you love, a dream gig, as so described by yesterday's headline on MSN news. (I’d find the link for you, but it was replaced by the more news-worthy “REPORT: N.Y. Gov. Involved in Prostitution Ring.” Bygones.)

The dream of Americans today is not only to have all of the above, but to also enjoy that aforementioned “good job” as well. Not an incomprehensible desire when we are spending 60+ hours at work each week.

No more “nose to the grindstone,” or “back to the salt mines,” no. We Americans want a single-family home with the single family. We want the “his and hers” car set, with maybe a recreational vehicle thrown in for good measure. We want a steady job we can depend on – with health insurance, dental, vision, and retirement planning – but we also want to wake up in the morning and be excited at the prospect of commuting 90 minutes (damn suburbia) so that we can do our soul-satisfying work.

We want to do something we love; something we’re passionate about.

In other words: we want our cake, and we want to eat it too. To hell with that extra hour of cardio we’ll have to do at the gym.

Let’s face it. America is spoiled. We are the spoiled teenager that is a 230-year-old nation.

But who am I to complain? I have a job I love.

Note to anyone who knows me: I may not be loving it right now, as you know, but in general I really do enjoy my job.

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