Just this moment I have finished rereading F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and was reminded again of its powerful message. That the American Dream can have a dark side for all of the beauty it promises. Lured East to New York for various fame’s and fortunes, all of the main characters end up leaving the “promised land” and wind up seeking familiar solace in the arms of their “Middle West” beginnings. Places like Chicago, St. Paul, or Louisville.
Now for me I love this sense of geography and how it relates to the American Dream. I imagine the continent as how the first explorers must have seen it. When they landed on the coast, they had no idea of the vastness the country offered. Of the Mississippi, the Great Plains, the Rockies. That this land mass had so much to offer- not in gold but in every real nourishment of life.
Over the hundreds of years, the United States evolved and with it the idea of this “American Dream.” That one individual could rise to success based solely on the actions they took and how they could influence the consequences. This ideal was no better manifested that in the intrepid frontiersmen, who like the conquistador, took a chance on something more and left the reliable helping hand of the East coast. They went West, where a pure “America” took shape. Growing farther and farther from the influences of Europe and the Old World, America was able to grow into something really unique and exciting.
I will contend that New York is the greatest city in the world and I do not blame Nick Carraway or Jay Gatsby for finding themselves there. But I will also say that New York is just that- a city of the world. I have experienced first hand the notion that to walk down a street there is to hear a dozen different languages. I think that is surreal and beautiful and only adds to the power of mystique that New York can hold over people.
However, the age old quest for exploratory abandonment appeals to me a great deal. To kick tradition to the curb just enough to become your own person and decide to leave the reliable helping hand of the East. To go West.
This is my American Dream. I am from Florida and have lived here my whole life. Happily and without regret, the sandy pine forests and beaches will always be my home but something foreign is calling me and I cannot resist. Is it New York? The beautiful worldly city? Or somewhere else? Somewhere I have not been, where customs and tastes, sights and sounds, are so new to me because they are so American. So free from the influences of Europe and the Old World.
Like those in The Great Gatsby I seek to make a name for myself. However big or small, it does not matter as long as at the end of the journey I can be happy with whatever I have accomplished.
As long as I have worked hard and been a source of happiness and strength in the lives of those I love. This is my American Dream. The same as countless others but special in the way I achieve it. I am going to be an actor and with a ton of sweat, help from my friends, faith, and little luck I am going to make it. While never forgetting the land that bore me, I will take a risk and by doing so discover so much more about myself and this country called America.