The American Dream is obtainable…. But it is not the one you are thinking of…. It is the real one. The American dream is only obtainable if you are willing to go after it. It requires the sacrifice of your comfort and your sense of safety. You have to be willing to take risks with your body, your way of life and your well being. You have to fight against the currents of society and push yourself to be better than you were before. You have to constantly test your self both physically and mentally. You have to swim against the current, whatever the cost.
When you think of the American Dream you think of 2.5 kids, a house in the suburbs and a white picket fence and most importantly the ability to retire between the ages of 55 to 65 years old, so you can enjoy your “Golden” years. THAT IS NOT THE REAL AMERICAN DREAM. We have all been sold a lie! It is ludicrous and most likely unobtainable if you were born after 1980 without a trust fund. This is primarily because we were screwed over by the generations before us, the companies that employed them, Wall street and a broken education system that is 100% pay to play.
The real “American” Dream is the one the Pilgrims had when they left Europe on the mayflower. It is the one that Lewis and Clark had when they set out into the wilderness to explore the continent. It is the same dream the Astronauts had when they flew into orbit or landed on the moon for the first time. It is the dream of adventure, freedom and exploration. It does not promise fame or riches. It does not ensure your safety. It only promises that you have the opportunity to really live. That dream is still alive, but only if you are brave enough to chase after it.
When my grandparents were growing up it was understood that if you got a job, worked hard and stayed loyal to the company you worked for then after 25 to 30 years the money you saved up in combination with your pension and social security would be enough for you to survive until the end of your life. The great depression hit and the companies that provided these pensions either shut down or started taking them away. To compound this problem, the end of the second world war caused the Baby boom. The baby boom generated more young people than there were adults. This compounded with conservative policies to eliminate social programs (social security in the 104th and 105th congress led by Newt Gingrich is a good example) then created a situation where younger generations have little to no safety net and are completely on their own if they ever want to retire or have a reasonable quality of life. This is further exacerbated by Wall Street bundling up sub prime mortgages and causing the economy to fall into the great recession in the early 2000’s….. And guess what….. They are doing it again and we are about to slide right into another great recession….. Say goodbye to your already damaged 401K.
Growing up I was born into blue collar middle class family. When I was 16 my father lost his long time job (with no pension) due to a corporate merger. He lost the house that I grew up in. The same house that he and three of his friends built with their bare hands. He filed for bankruptcy and was able to save a pick up truck which he gave to me. He literally gave me what little he had left. I was on my own but at least I had Wheels. I then moved out of my home town and attended undergrad at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington where I got a bachelors degree in political science and a degree in Philosophy with an emphasis in metaphysics and logic…. I was qualified to bag groceries and ask why. I also owed about $50,000.00 in student loans plus interest.
I then made the decision to attend law school as there were no real careers I was qualified for. I attended Thomas Jefferson School of law in San Diego California. When I graduated and passed the bar exam the great recession had just hit….. There were no jobs in law either…. Once again I was screwed over but now I was almost $300,000.00 in debt with interest accruing. With no options other than bartender or waiter at a restaurant…. I launched a law firm which I ran during the week while I was waiting tables and bar tending on the weekends. I worked 70-80 hours a week for the first two years. I started it with $180.00 worth of poorly made business cards and I was working out of my bedroom in a crappy apartment behind the Weinerschnitzle in Pacific Beach, San Diego. Over the last decade I built that law firm up into a thriving successful business in which I brought in a partner and had multiple employees. I worked my butt off and paid everything I could to pay off those student loans…..
At present I still owe about $300,000.00 in student loans. All of my hard work and suffering and the only thing I had paid back….. was interest. In essence I had bought into the fake american dream. I have realized I devoted my whole life to believing that If I got a great education and worked hard then it would all work out….. that was bull shit. I sat down with my financial adviser and looked at my situation. I was on track to retire some time after I was dead. I was working in one of the most stressful occupations on the planet with extremely long hours and my health was rapidly declining and so was my quality of life. I was making good money but it simply was not enough to get out of the hole my education dug for me. In addition I did not have enough time to actually enjoy the little money I had leftover after loans and taxes…. so what is the point in having that money at all? What was the point in living that life? What was I doing? None of that made sense to me…. I was never going to retire, I was over worked, stressed out and I was miserable.
After my divorce (no time for a family after all), the death of my Mother and my close friend Scott who you already read about, I cashed in my savings, my retirement accounts and I sold my law firm to my partner. I had promised Scott I would help him raise money for the children’s hospital when he was on his death bed. I also promised myself that I would embody the real American dream….. I am now making good on both of those promises. Life is too short to just get by. It is too short to be idle. It is too short to waste away chasing after a false dream that is hollow.
If you like my ideas, helping children in need and the embodiment of the real American Dream then please “like” my blog, share it with your friends and if you are able please donate. a majority of all money donated will go to the Shriner’s hospitals for children.