by María L. Trigos-Gilbert

Before I explain what the American Dream is, it’s imperative to discuss the meaning of one’s dream. So let’s ask some fundamental questions at hand. What’s a dream? Where do we conceive our dreams? Where does a dream end? How does a dream get materialized? What happens after it is materialized? A dream is hope’s image. You hope what you don’t have until you get it. Then your hope is fulfilled. A dream is conceived in one’s mind. We start imagining. In your mind everything is just right, all what you want, when you want it, and with whom you want it. If those aspects of your dream come true, then you may shout BINGO. That’s when your dream ends. By then, you are supposed to be satisfied.

A dream has different forms of getting materialized. For instance, you may work pretty hard to get that beautiful house, the one that takes your breath away. Option number two, your parents’ money is the one making it real for you. There are many other options, but I have considered two of them just to give you some illustrations. So far you have been dreaming about something, and it has become real. So after this takes place, you should be able to relax and enjoy your touchable picture. Otherwise, you aren’t still completely happy about your dream. It’s as if you’re a Dream Hunter. Therefore, your dream may have an end, but your dreaming never ends. To constantly dream is okay unless it causes you ulcers.

The American Dream: A Universal Need
When I first heard of the American Dream, I debated within myself a lot about this idea, the American dream. Finally, I concluded the matter of dreaming about life’s basics wasn’t exclusive to North America. The American Dream is the following: Go to college, get a good job, and finally get your own family. If we think about it, the American Dream is indeed a UNIVERSAL DREAM. In most parts of the world, people want to get well educated, to get a good job, and certainly to create a marvelous family. Whoever doesn’t want those things, I must say that this individual is loony. We need to gain some independence, and the only way of doing it is by getting educated.

The American Dream: College, Work, and Family
The more illiterate you are; the easier it gets for other people to take advantage of you. That’s to say education has a great relevance in one’s life. To be well educated opens doors. They remain open whenever we need to use them, more likely on a daily basis. A good job is one’s reward for being suitably in something, whatever that something may be. Of course, a fine companion is the final answer to the whole equation. With the increasing years, we discover that even our education and our job aren’t still enough to satisfy our true meaning in life. In the end, we need someone to share our dreams. I wasn’t born in North America, but I do have the same dream that many North Americans have.

The American Dream: Dead or Alive?
You may find it to be true in the entire world because the North American Dream is indeed a universal necessity. Yet what’s happening with the North American dream? At times it seems as if it’s dying. It is dying because we have changed our goals, our dreams. We aren’t satisfied with a suitable house, a good job, and an understanding spouse. We have lost track of what ENOUGH means. Let me give you a vivid example. When I was studying Industrial Design, they taught me two important rules:

. Don’t think about what people need, but about what you are able to design in order to create a need (which more likely is a want, exchanged for a need).

. Don’t use materials that will last forever. Use breakable materials, so people will have to buy them over and over without noticing your intention.

Those rules are a bit cold if not a lot. Yet that’s reality. We live in a world where needs are really wants, though at times little we understand the difference between the two. We realize which is which when our cash and bank account point out to us our financial limitations. Then and only then we truly comprehend what we need from what we want. This is why the American Dream is dying. We aren’t content with an education, a house, and a spouse. Nowadays we need the right car, the right computer, and the right everything. This doesn’t include all the hardware that those tools demand to perform their high quality tech-projects. No wonder, people seem so unhappy. For example, I read a book called “Who Stole the American Dream?” written by Burke Hedges. The author touches some points that are giant truths. Yet he lacks a bit of integrity because the book is another fraud about multilateral marketing.

He diminishes the true American Dream. For him, it isn’t important to get an education, though he’s well prepared, a huge paradox. The matter of having one’s own business is another joke according to his opinion. Well, if a good education, a satisfying job, and a nice spouse aren’t enough, then what’s it? In his book, he’s doing what I just used to do in Industrial Design, creating nonexistent needs. Of course, this isn’t to say that he isn’t right about some facts. “The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer.” He also says something that is very true. Some people buy luxury houses and cars, but they don’t have the time to enjoy them because of their work. This isn’t to mention the most important deal from all the deals, quality time with our families.

Losers Vs. Achievers
The above paragraph give us another side of the picture of why the American Dream is dying. It’s dying because what we used to consider relevant, has become secondary. For some people, this dream is still very alive. If someone isn’t involved in this I WANT IT NOW, then this individual is looked upon like a loser. The truth of the matter is that he’s the alive and happy person, in comparison to the unsatisfied achievers. Those types of achievers have their schedules full at all times, big mistake if you offer to drink coffee or tea with them for mere enjoyment. They are too busy. They are the ones that you have to call months ahead if you want anything scheduled with them.

On the Way to Work
There is one thing that I enjoy a lot in my work place, the ride to get there. It’s about an hour from my house. So I have to wake up pretty early in order to make it on time. I have seen the sun coming out many times, one word to describe this daily birth of the sun is: SPECTACULAR. I wouldn’t trade this scenery for a shorter ride. I drive from a timid busy city to the sleepy villages. I see horses, cows, and elderly people who wake up very early just to wave when workers go to do their daily jobs. I have learned to wave at them with a smile; I don’t envy them for staying at home a bit longer than I do. I guess that in their youth they too had to do the same drill. There’s a man who is at the entrance of his house in a wheelchair, he’s there everyday after work. I think that he knows me, or at least my car.

If one day he isn’t there, I get a bit worried, though I don’t know his name. Nor does he know mine. I may be known by him as Mrs. Ford. I know him by Mr. Wheelchair. He follows me with his eyes, and I give him a big wave since I have to keep my eyes on the road. Forgetting the fact that he’s in a wheelchair, I bet you that he’s a satisfied fellow right there in the confort of his village and house. At times I have seen people stopping by and chatting with him. I have wondered about those conversations. They could easily be talking about our fast way of living, our I WANT IT NOW FORGET LATER. One of my life’s philosophy is that there isn’t future, but today. We don’t know about the very next minute, though we pretend to know it all. Even the most organized person, from time to time gets a lot of surprises.

Insurance to Live Insurance to Die
We get insurance of all kinds. We insure the house, the car, the spouse, and if it isn’t enough we insure the house pet. I get to do a lot of fun stuff like paintings, drawings, and sculptures. So one day I decided that I needed a cheaper watch to work my sculptures. I bought a cheap watch, no more than $30.00. The clerk insisted that I need a $5.00 insurance policy for my watch in case something happen with my watch. I analyzed her offer for less than two minutes. Finally, I gave her my determined answer, thanks but not thanks. If my cheap watch would have broken before a year’s use, I preferred to buy another. I have so many passwords, insurance deals, and contracts that one more wouldn’t have made it easier on me. On the contrary, it would had been another unnecessary headache.

Forgot the List? Or Did I Ever Make a List?
Have you observed your shopping habits? You stop at the supermarket for a few things, but you end up buying what isn’t on your list. You have a craving that isn’t on your list. You find something pretty useful, though you truly don’t know if you would ever use it, or at least for how long. You think that this time you won’t spend more than you did before. Alas, you spend the same amount, or a bit more. If you spend less than you did before, it’s a miracle or a coincidence. How do we solve this problem? Let’s start by making a list, and giving needs their real name: WANTS. Ouch, that hurts. Please don’t take me wrong; I’m not inferring that we shouldn’t gratify ourselves from time to time. Life will be super tedious if we don’t enjoy some of what’s out there. Remember the following Venezuelan saying, “Let me eat first what at last the worms will eat.”

Before and After Dead
Many things we won’t enjoy or know just because we’ll be dead, sooner or later! That’s a fact. We don’t even have to debate about it; it’s the truth, and nothing but the truth. So there are three possible perspectives:

. We may take an expending attitude.

. We may become Mrs. or Mr. Stingy.

#3. We could enjoy life in spite of our circumstances.

I like option #3. To get to that point takes a lot of practice, self discipline, and a great deal of enthusiasm toward life. I remember that in an English course, the professor asked us, “What links us?” Many students answered the university, the English course, the matter of wearing jeans and T-shirts. Finally, he answered with an absolute, “NO.” So we asked him, “Well, if all those things don’t link us, then what’s it?” That’s when he said, “DEATH.”

If we think about it, death is the only thing that humbles our existence! Death extinguishes our dreams’ flames. After we are dead, there aren’t any more deals to take or to leave. All of our likes and dislikes seem to fade, seem irrelevant. Death shows us how limited or powerless in front of it we are. Some people live believing that each day may be their last. Some other people live thinking that they are immortal until death knocks their doors. It doesn’t have to be their own door, but the door of a loved one. So where does all that hurrying to get all our wants and needs go? Do we think that our super houses, excellent jobs, and loving spouses will come with us as we depart from this world? As far as I know, I haven’t seen anyone taking his or her possessions to the unknown world. If you have seen something similar, that’s astonishing.

Fight Back If You Must
This is why nobody should take away what you have accumulated, big dreams or small dreams. If you think that the government has taken away your North American Dream, you are still alive and with the possibility or fighting back. If your boss is the one taking advantage of your dreaming individuality, you simply don’t have to take it. You are living in a nation where the currency bills and coins say, “In God we trust.” Even if you don’t believe in God, you should at least claim that it’s under God’s command that this country was founded. That’s to say: happiness, justice, and liberty. Yes, it’s within your rights to claim and pursue happiness, justice, and liberty!

A long time ago in a Christian seminar, a woman’s lecture included a story that she read somewhere. The story said we may be deprived of many things. Yet in our minds we act just as we want. In her car, the mother tells her little daughter to sit down, but the little girl didn’t want to sit down. She finally agreed to obey her mother’s command, but ended with these words: “Mom, I am sitting just as you asked me to, but inside I remain standing.” The American Dream is like this story. Many people may tell us that our priorities have changed. Yet inside we know that a good education, a decent job, and a nice house are still important, including someone to share those things. It doesn’t matter the year or the century. We are still human and need to breath, to eat, and to defecate in order to keep our body’s functions as they should, in good shape.