The American Dream

I’m remember being twenty. I was excited by what the day held. I can work anywhere. I can go any place. My life can be anything I want it to be. I just have to finish my degree. Then my real life will start. I just need to decide where to live and buy that house. Then my real connection with my community will start. I just need to find what makes me happy to work on then I’ll have the perfect job and Monday will feel as good as Saturday.

Now I’m in my thirties. It is a little harder to get up each morning. It takes a little longer to get going. I have committed to my job and at this point I don’t know what else I’d do and make this kind of money. A door closes on other careers. Maybe it doesn’t, but I don’t have the energy to get up and check if it is still open – even just a crack. If it is, am I passionate enough about anything to restart?

I have my own family now. I have kids and I want them to have a relationship with their grandparents while they can. I want them to have the memories that I have of going to grandma’s house and reading comics, and playing with different toys, eating cake and cookies, and staying up later than I should have. Of feeling like a VIP. That means of all the places I could have lived, the radius of where I can live with this choice is a lot smaller. Within an hour or so is about as far away as I want to get.

I remember being so excited by remote work. I thought I had found the unicorn job. This would free up so much time to pursue other hobbies, and invest in my personal relationships. The work week would just barely register on my mind for the week. Except that now I don’t know as many people and I’m not meeting any more people so that social circle is shrinking every day. The connections I hoped to form with my neighbors didn’t pan out. We seldom speak, and we don’t share much in common. And the work is the same in an office or at home. The work week is still the dominating force in my scheduling.

The real struggle now isn’t maintaining any of the things I set out to achieve in my twenties. I have a house, and a family, and career. What I struggle with is what’s next. Or what else. Or maybe it is the same question?

And will I have the energy to pursue the Next Thing even if I find it? Or will I never find it because just like those other doors I haven’t the curiosity to get up and peek? Is the next thirty years staying the course? I’m mostly happy, and healthy but I feel under utilized. On paper everything looks good. But I’m struggling to feel that sense of accomplishment internally.

I retire. I live in some dream place. Then what? I’m contemplating what the lesson is here. What should I have done? I hope at the end I have a connection to my family. That was about it. And in a few generations my great great grandkids will struggle to remember my name. Some silly job he did that is now obsolete.

I think that is what bothers me the most. Everything we’ve forgotten. Each life seems to be its own independent arc. And looking down from the apex is really making me question its purpose.


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