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Feedback - An essay on the American Dream (1 Viewer)



I am not really a writer. I am an artist going through a mid-life crisis. I forsook my art for many years while pursuing the American Dream. I have been successfull, but have lost myself in the process. I starting this essay in efforts to write an artist statement. It became more. I would appreciate feedback.

Square Peg - An Essay on the American Dream

I have spent the last three decades being a square peg. Sometimes oiling myself up or sanding the corners just enough to get lodged into a round hole - only to pop like a champagne cork when the underlying pressure built up too much. I've struggled and cried and pleaded and prayed and given up only to start all over again. I was passable at best when I was trying and a miserable failure when I wasn't. I have at various times resigned that if I am going to subject myself to an over bearing regime of "normalcy", I would at least be good at it. I've tried dressing the part, acting the part, but have never been able to fill the role. I've felt stupid for falling prey to ignorant ideologies. Stupid for passing those ideologies on to impressionable children. Hateful of who I've become.

I object to a life in which I find myself deeply entrenched and guilty of perpetuating. Possessions superfluous of necessity. Waste of time, waste of resources. Celebrations of ignorance. "Keeping up with the Joneses". Just like others, I have allowed myself to step aside and question rhetorically "who am I to change?". After all, this is the American Dream.

We have a television in nearly every room of our house. We have gaming systems attached to three of them. We own motorcycles. A boat. A sports car. A truck that gets 19 miles to the gallon on a good day. We have bicycles, push scooters, electric scooters, skateboards, rollerblades we don't use, toys we don't play with, books we don't read, clothes we don't wear and a house we can't keep clean. We take our children on vacations where they learn the curriculum of capitalist propaganda. We are teaching our children that this is what life is about - this is the American Dream. When asked, "Why?", we reply, "Because we can".

I don't know what life is about. But I do know that life is not about perpetuating this popular but poorly conceived notion of the American Dream where enough is never enough. A dream where household strife is as common as dirty laundry. Where mothers drown their babes. Where fathers murder their entire family in cold blood. Where children are mass murderers. A dream that leads to the demise of all who seek - not only for themselves, but for their children and for the whole of society. Nearly 200 years ago, Charles Willson Peale said that "Harmony in family life is an essential requirement for social harmony". Today, we wonder why our legislature is corrupt and why the judiciary hands down decisions so obviously lacking moral integrity. Why? Because children grow up and become legislators, educators, and parents who perpetuate to their progeny the notion of this bastardized American Dream.

I don't want our children to grow up thinking that life must be lived in stark white Keds and a Mickey Mouse t-shirt. I want them to grow up with the confidence to enjoy life as a square peg.


Senior Member
This made me smile. I know it probably wasn't supposed to, but it did. I think i might be smiling because i know the pinching pain of being a square peg in a round hole. While the saying is cliche, i didnt feel it was here. It was true and honest and I really enjoyed reading it. Writers are just artists armed with a pen instead of a paintbrush, after all.


Senior Member
i find it self-excusing in a way, and lacking any apparent intent to change yourself or your way of life... ending with just an 'i want' makes the whole exercise futile, imo... and a waste of reading time for me...

i was looking/hoping for some kind of a resolute declaration of purpose after all that confession, found only a weak, wishy-washy wish for someone to wave a magic wand and grant your kids what you won't, it seems, give them yourself...

sorry if that is harsh, but it's how your piece came across to me... fyi, i've survived a lot of merde in my and my 7 children's lives, been very poor and quite wealthy... it's not easy to make major changes, but it's also not impossible...

love and hugs, maia



thanks maia!

I agree, i should have ended it differently. I will share with you that I have made a change already. I spent the last 4 days making over my children's lifestyle - putting me more in control instead of letting them run my life. Its working so far. Once I have totally regained control, I intend to make more of the material changes that I believe are necessary. It is tough. I recall the days when we were poor and life was much more simple. Now that we have more, its too easy to get caught up in it.


Senior Member
A really neat piece of writing. A different perspective i've never really looked at. I really like it. Good job!

Olly Buckle

It's not just America, look at the historical record and all leaders since Alexander through Cromwell Up to Napoleon were self interested cheating lying bastards who kept the public in the dark about what was going on, You think anything changes? Well yes, industrialization gives the means to pay off the ordinary people with material goods rather than suppressing them, lucky you. It also gives the means to equip bigger armies, move them further and faster and keep them in the field during harvest.


Senior Member
good for you, sp!... now just don't expect the kids to love you for it or go quietly into that 'simpler' life...

and keep in mind that we don't have kids for them to love us, but for us to love them... and to guide them on the 'right path' whether they would choose it or not... after that, they're gonna do their own thing and may dump all you taught them... but at least you will know you did what you felt was right... and that's what matters most...

love and great big supportive hugs, maia