The american dream

About a million years ago, I took a few martial arts classes. It was fun; I wouldn’t mind doing it again. I just have to find the time…

Anyway, one time, the teacher, while dismissing us, brought one new guy forward. Turns out he wasn’t new:

“Jeff…Come up here jeff! I need to take a moment. Everyone, you should congratulate Jeff. You used to be a lot bigger…How much weight have you lost?”

Jeff was a little shy. “About Sixty Pounds.” He was proud, though.

“THis is an accomplishment!” the Teacher praised him. “This is a big deal! I had to take some time and give you kudos.”

At that time, I was in sore need of some weight loss myself. I was amazed at the big deal made over this guy. 60 pounds, that is an accomplishment.

How much time do we spend thinking about losing weight? here in america, I think it is always on our minds. The American Dream. Just to lose that 10..15…50…150 pounds we need to lose.

My older brother Mark has been on a diet. He’s inspiring. I don’t know how much weight he’s lost exactly, but he came down from looking sort of substantial to looking how I always remember him.

He’d always been fairly slim. I think it was because he had been a perpetual student for so long. One of his remarkable achievements was living off a 25 pound bag of dried pinto beans for a year.

He’d been given the bag from my oldest brother. Like a great number of people, Bryan had been attracted to foodstores. For emergencies…the end of the world that was supposed to happen on y2k, or some natural disaster or the tribulation that comes right before the second coming of Christ…You have to be prepared!

Except he also had to move. And all those food stores didn’t fit neatly into the Uhaul. Which is how Mark got the sack, and was able to afford the fulfillment of another american dream: a college education.

My brother Bryan is not alone in his gut need for self-sufficiency. All those bags of beans…where they really belong is in a cabin in the woods, you know?

Chris took me to see Hearst Castle this friday. As I was driving with Chris up the highway one, through all these lovely remote places, I was seized with a desire for a cabin in the woods.

“Chris, wouldn’t you like a little cabin somewhere? A getaway sort of place?”

“Like at Whitney Portal?”

He and I like hiking in mountainey places. So we dreamed a bit.

“Wouldn’t you like to build a log cabin? If we bought a piece of land without any building on it, it would be cheap!”

“What about electricity?”

“Psh! We dont’ need electricity! We can get a generator! Solar power!”

He kept driving. I thought about all the things we can get away without.

“Except we HAVE to have water. That’s important.” I knew someone who built a whole gorgeous house on a patch of land that didn’t have a well. Water is key. “Maybe we should get it on a lake, or a river or something.”

That’s another American Dream. Your own land. Self-suffieciently. The shotgun and the “NO TRESPASSING” sign.

Well, maybe not the sign. I would like a cozy place where people would not be easily able to find it. Needley trees cushioning the space around small walls.

Mark, newly skinny, was telling us more about his self-evaluations. He was working the Color your Parachute book. He was trying to find the right sort of career for his talents.

Another dream-the career dream. Chris is an entrepenuer. Just enough to make me freak out. Work for the man? Get a pension? Not for my man.

I am nervous to be self-sufficient in that way. But Chris makes it happen. God bless him. His American Dream is his own business.

Folks at work here are constantly making pools for Lotto. Buy 100 dollars worth of tickets and split it if any of them win.

I ask them, “What would you do if you won?”

They seldom get past the first month…A big party, a big trip.

But what then? Life is long…How do you fill the hours without a dream? And if you make your dream come true too soon, where are you?

Mostly, they say, “If I won, you wouldn’t see me around HERE anymore.”

I remember there were people who won the dot com lottery. 20 something millionaires. And they showed up to work. What else would they do with their time? They liked their jobs. Some of them, anyway…

Hmm…I wonder. I know for sure what I would do with a lottery windfall. Go back to school. But you know, that might only be the first few years. What would the dream be then?

William Hearst had the windfall. Well, theoretically, he worked very hard for it. He had a lot of businesses. But he had all the money anyone would want.

He spend his free time shopping. And throwing parties.

The American Dream. Is that what we’re about?