A high school friend of mine had a wedding recently. I wasn’t invited. Which is understandable. You can’t invite everyone you know. He and I are close but not “Close close”. Put it like this: We are close enough for me to “Like” his photos of the wedding on social media without seeming weird, and if I were to call him to congratulate him we would chat. But not close enough for me to buy him a gift or for him to miss the fact that I hadn’t picked up the phone to actually congratulate him. The people that were invited are also high school friends of mine of course. Again, not “Close close”. Being the weirdo that I am I never take anything for face value. I always peel back at least one layer. The list of the invitees peeled back once, in my mind at least, mostly fit a mold. The “American Dream Realized” if you will. They studied hard in high school, then again in college, and then once more in grad school. Now they are happily married or soon to be married, great careers not jobs, houses etc. And then there is me. I bumbled through high school, dropped out of college, went to the military, failed marriage, etc. you know the typical artist. I’m not butt hurt about not being invited at all. But standing back to look at it all makes me realize there is a “line” there between my friends and I. Like an underlying theme in communications and interactions. I connect better with the people around me who have similar stories. Those of us without degrees that kind of worry about our future. “Stability” is not really our bag, but it is something I/we am working on. It just takes me/us a little longer I suppose. There is nothing that I could ask for right now in my life though. I have a wonderful daughter, a great girlfriend, a great job, a car, a space of my own, a significant web presence, and enough money to buy some of the things that I want. So why do I still feel “unfulfilled”.
I have stated several times in conversation that the “American Dream” has changed. But I recently realized that I have never really been able to state what it has changed to. Which lends credence to the idea that maybe it never changed. That all brings me to my real fear. The thing that upsets my sleep. The thing that seems to lurk over me everyday like an apparition following my every movement. This is the fear of “Success” or the lack there of. The fear of never “achieving”. The fear of “not having anything to show” for my years of living.
It is often stated that there is no true measure of success except by your own rod, which is believable but somewhat of a cop out. For sure my mother would not give me the “You’ve Finally Made It” award if such thing existed and she was the granting authority. She and I have had several conversations in this regard where the result was simply a “well…okay” from her. But would I give it to myself?
If I had to stack the things I own, my net worth, my degrees and such upon each other there would be a hole instead of a measurable widget of height. However, if I could stack and measure my experiences…I’d be among the “Bill Gates” and “Warren Buffet’s” of this land. So what really matters? That is the question my friend and the point of these written words. “I don’t know” fits the bill just fine, as it does in so many areas of my life.
The fact that I don’t know is what bothers me. Should I be happy with where I am, and what I have or should I hang my head in shame, beg for forgiveness from those around me for being a “tard” of an adult as I scuffle to make my next achievement? These are the questions that I should be able to answer for myself but I can’t. I just can’t…and that is where I am with (My) American Dream.
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