Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Hard work and the American Dream: a study in dynamic opposites

(Originally written Thursday, March 02, 2006)

It's something that happens to almost all of us at one time or another. It happens to many of us just about everyday. I'm talking about work. A job, a career, an occupation and so on, (I've currently misplaced my thesaurus or else I could probably go on for paragraphs with synonyms.) Like it or hate it, it's a part of life.

There are many different approaches to working. The most prevalent one is to pick something, hate it, shut up and not tell anybody how much you hate it, and spend years doing it, becoming more and more dissatisfied with yourself and how your life turned out, as it slowly eats away at your soul until you're nothing but an empty shell of a human being. The hours aren't great, but you might get stock options, or at the very least life insurance, so you're covered and secure; which are the things everybody looks for in an endeavor that they waste the best years of their lives on. The highlights of this course of action are: body-fat, lowered self-esteem, alcoholism and late-night romps with maids, janitors and business partners.

A variation of this is the "might as well" approach. The difference with this one is that instead of picking a job to hate, the person will end up sticking with a dead-end job that they just couldn't find the energy to get out of. As a high schooler, they might have started working at that shoe store in the mall, (or more sadly, that fast food joint in the food court) as a good way to get extra money to buy narcotics, (I know I did), but ended up getting promoted to manager or something like that. As time went on, they discovered that their job gave them just enough to live a life they were used to, so there wasn't too much motivation to find something better. So they "might as well" stick with what they're doing.

The second approach isn't as popular as the first, but it has something to be said for it. This is, of course, the "crazy" approach. The way it works is, the person exercises their constitutional right to be insane. They stop cutting their hair or bathing; decide to talk to people who, while they might exist, certainly don't live on this plane of existence; and live outside to grow strong in the robust outdoor weather. These people have it easy. They don't have to wake up at any particular time in the morning; they don't have to clean their houses, (because they don't have any) or make their beds, (because cardboard doesn't wrinkle like sheets do.) Somebody else cooks for them, so they get to enjoy delicious soup any time they want. And best of all, in the summer they have fabulous tans from extended hours spent begging for money.

Going with this approach can be difficult. The market is currently saturated with these go-getters, and finding your niche could take a lot of time. My suggestion is that if you choose the "crazy" approach, have a cache, a certain something that the others don't have. This will make you stand out more in the crowd. Eyes that look in opposite directions, Tourettes Syndrome or some other mental disease, a body odor that can drop horses from 50 paces, mismatched and entirely inappropriate clothes; all these are good ideas. Be creative.

There is another approach that is popular mostly with immigrants and people with strong wills. This approach involves starting somewhere at the bottom and slowly working their way up through hard work and long hours, saving every penny possible and creating a sense of trust, honesty and integrity with customers, until finally there is enough money to use for the betterment of offspring; i.e. sending them to college to become doctors, lawyers, infomercial directors; giving them opportunities the hard-working parents never had. This approach usually leaves the person incredibly drained, often dying after a hard, brutal life full of toil and pain, all for the sake of somebody else. Touching ain't it? Makes you want to go out there and do your best right? Yeah, me neither.

The problem is that some people refer to this as the "American Dream," when in fact, it's as close to the real American Dream as pyrite is to gold, or for those less geologically inclined, Lacie Chambert is to Jennifer Love Hewitt, (that's right, I keep it topical with my pop culture references!)

No, to be honest, the real "American Dream" is much simpler than that. It can be summed up in eight words: Become extremely rich doing as little as possible. There are subtle variations of that theme, becoming rich as a famous actor, becoming rich winning the lottery, becoming rich as a famous singer, etc. They are all basically the same thing. To my knowledge, while there have been more people successful with this approach then I can count, there is one person who exemplifies and embodies the spirit of the "American Dream." That person is Paris Hilton.

Sure Paris was born into wealth, I don't deny that. But, she has increased her income a thousand fold over the last five years without actually having a job! Think about it, Paris is the only person I can think of who's famous simply for being famous. There are plenty of rich people in the world, but they aren't automatically famous for it. She was able to take her natural talents of spending money and being extremely shallow, and go to the next level with them. And now who could picture a world without Paris Hilton? Not I, and god bless her for it!

Personally, I'm going the "American Dream" approach. I'm counting on a big-named writer and/or publisher to discover this blog, full of semi-funny ramblings, one day, and immediately offer me obscene amounts of money to continue doing what I'm already doing. According to my master plan of world domination, it should happen any time now…

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