Tuesday, May 18, 2010

To Dream of Less: A New Operating System for the American Dream

People talk a lot about the American Dream.  There are a few different versions, but I think at the core is making something of your situation that is better than what you were given.  When you try to pin down what that translates to in the real world however, the answer is almost always 'stuff.'

A three bedroom home with a two car garage.  A new car.  A bigger car.  A faster car.  Lots of cars basically.  A riding mower.  A space in the house that is just mine.  A space in the house to work.  A space in the house that is just yours.  A space in the house for the kids.  More Space, in other words.  A pressure cooker.  A new microwave.  A bigger Barbecue.  A professional cook for weeknights.  A better vacuum.  A new dishwasher.  A maid that comes twice a week.  A cleaner life with more convenience.  A bigger TV.  A smaller computer.  A bigger laptop.  A new phone.

Each time we achieve one of these goals, it seems that very shortly we find ourselves having exactly the same goal once again.  I have a flat screen, LCD HDTV, I want a bigger one.  I have an iPhone 3G, I want the new 4G (or whatever, 6G, 7Q, 10JT) as soon as it is available.  I have a moderately fuel efficient car, I want an electric vehicle.  The trouble is, I know for a fact that each time I acquire one of these things I will quickly tire of it and want something newer/bigger/faster to replace it.

Recently, I have been dreaming of less.  I dream of wanting less.  I am not living the dream, not yet, but I am dreaming it.  I dream, instead of a new car, of having no car at all.  I dream of living in a place where I can walk to work, walk to the grocery store, walk to a restaurant, pub or theater, and walk to a  public transit line for everything else.  I dream of no car insurance, no car maintenance, no gas prices, no car washes, and mostly no driving.  I hate driving.

I dream, instead of more space, of just enough space.  I dream of having no storage, and being forced to get rid of everything I can't store.  I dream of having only things I need and use frequently.  I dream of getting the most out of every space and every thing that I own, of loving my spaces and cherishing my things.  I dream of liking my stuff enough to care for it, keep it, and enjoy it, rather than dreaming of replacing it.

I dream, instead of getting new things, of getting very old things.  I dream of finding things that have worked for many years, which show little sign of wear and every intention of working forever.  I dream of caring for these things, of keeping them working, and when I no longer have use for them of finding other people who do.

I have been dreaming lately of making my situation better with the dream of less.  This is the American Dream, though it may not look like it on the surface.  I dream of taking what I am given and making it last longer, making it worth more, making myself happier, and making the world a better place.  In short, I dream of making a better life for myself and my family, and it seems that every day that better life needs a little more less.
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1 comment:

  1. The new American Dream - I like it very well.