Walking home is the time for weird thoughts sometimes. I usually just met friends for some drinks – like today when I met former colleagues and we had some beers and a chat about (as we say in German) “God and the world”… but all nice evenings hasve to end, specially when you realize that it is not even 9 and you already get tipsy and the idea to skip dinner but have some beers more insteat was maybe not such a good idea. However.
After saying good-bye I walked back to the bus station to catch the next one towards home and the very first song my iPod played me is an anthem of the 80ties. Many of u guys might know when you know movies from the 80ties: “Shooting for the moon” by Amy Holland.
It is a song from the movie Teen Wolf, one the typical American Hollywood movies of this decade. The story line is not important for the moment but the message the song and the movie carried was simple and impressive: you can make it if you really try. In a way Barack Obama summed it up in his first presidential campaign “Yes we can”.
In the 80ties, although the Vietnam war was a disaster for the super power and in the political world the USA were not so much the glazing star anymore as more and more scandals came up, but for me and my generation the States still had this magical subtext. It was and still is the message of the American dream I have engraved in my soul and brain although I never lived in the USA itself. But the message was so strong and got transported not only by newspapers and stories of others, but through movies and films and music: The American dream.
When you google that expression, you find on wikipedia (where else) an interesting article about it.
„The American Dream is a national ethos of the United States, a set of ideals in which freedom includes the opportunity for prosperity and success, and an upward social mobility achieved through hard work.“ and then one learns that there is even an official definition by James Truslow Adams, an american author and historian, from 1931, “life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement” regardless of social class or circumstances of birth.“
Or as I would say it: You can succeed if you believe in yourself and even the goal is sky-high away from you keep going and can reach it.
I think the cultural success of the USA all over the world, the reason why we all watch them, why we spent the entire night to see the outcome of the presidential elections is based on this message and the idea behind it: you have to work hard and when everything turns against you, keep going and just make it happen. I personally made my own „american dream movie“ category for certain movies where you have exactly this motive:
A guy or a group of people are outsideers in their field they have no chance and everyone tells them, but they get together and they get succesfull and in the end they triumph about the others because they are a team and they all exceed their own physical/mental/emotional boundaries. This is a storyline you see a lot in sport movies, as i.e. „Major league“ (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0097815/).
But you also have the other „American dream“ movie category, where hard work and being creative and smart brings success in the end. A typical movie for this would be „The secret of my success“ (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0093936/) . And this story is still used in movies, books, until today.
I am sure that many of you will have other movies in the head right now where the American dream is the main mesage – I am looking forward to read your top AD movies, write me a comment. But this here is not so much about movies. It is about the idea to have a dream you believe in, a dream to follow and to go for. I think humans need goals in their life. We need that one star we can follow, like a marker on the road that leads us the way. Because in the end we all want toe same: to succeed. The only question is: what is it that we define as success for ourself? Some count success in money. That is surely an option where again I think that money is a good thing to have but is it the only thing that makes us happy?
Others, more romantic ones, will say what really makes us happy is love. Really? Well I think I better not share my thoughts about love here now J But I am sure that this „love“ concept, however you picture it for yourself, works for many people, but I truely believe that this „she chose love over money and lives happily ever after“ stuff….. there must be a reason why movies always end then and not shoiwng us that happy couple a few years later in their rotten house, dirty and hungry and I bet they do not hold hands and look into their eyes all the time then.
Anyhow. What is important is: we all have our personal „American dream“ and if you say now „nope, I have none“, my strong advise is to get one. Find something that makes you moving forward. Something that helps you to get the strenghts when – as Rocky Balboa said it in his speech to his son – life has beaten you down and keeps you there permanently if you let it. Because in life it is not about how hard you can hit but how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. And if you have a dream as a marker, it will help you standing up when you are down on your knees and keep going.
Follow your dream.