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Dr. Brent Ridge Headshot

I Dreamed a Dream

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At the time I am writing this, a YouTube video of an unknown singer from a small town somewhere in Great Britain has been viewed 5,424,591 times in a matter of days. (Full disclosure: 112,009 of those views were mine).

Susan Boyle is a good singer, and any critiques of her technical performance are certainly tempered by an endearing stage presence. But she is not an extraordinary singer. So what is it about this performance that has resonated with so many people? (In contrast, the next most-watched YouTube version of this popular song from Les Miserables has just over 700,000 views despite being posted since 2007.)

The performance (and its clever editing and camera angles) strikes all the right notes. First, who among us has not taken advantage of a few moments of privacy in our own homes to belt out a song all the while imagining that the world was our stage? Second, even the most accomplished and talented people can create a long list of their short-comings and even suffer an occasional crisis of self-confidence. This explains the universal appeal of the underdog story arc. We all feel that we're the underdog at some point in our lives---and at some point every day.

Lastly, there's an age issue here, too. Susan is 47 years old, long past the age we usually anoint people with "stardom". (I've always been annoyed that American Idol presumes that one cannot be idolized if over the age of 30.) The idea of mid-life resurrection certainly appeals to many.

I've written in prior posts about how the current state of the world has made me re-evaluate my own life and where it was headed and about how "the great correction" to the status quo may not be such a bad thing.

As home values have dwindled, prices have gone up and 401(k)s have gone down, people have talked about the fact that the American Dream is no longer obtainable. But to the contrary, the true American Dream is more obtainable now than ever. Somehow over the last several decades, this dream was re-defined to mean that you can have anything you want. You could also have it almost instantaneously. That's not a dream. That's a fantasy.

The American Dream, as embodied by the waves of immigrants who came to America throughout the 18th, 19th and the 20th centuries was of a place of unbridled opportunity where strife, hard work, talent and ingenuity ultimately pay off in the end. The truth is: they still do and they always will.

Susan Boyle stepped out on that stage at exactly the right moment. Along with the plaintive piano and the beautiful strings, we were all desperate to hear that there is still hope for dreamers and that dreams do still come true sometimes.

Follow along with Brent's dream of becoming a farmer at www.beekman1802.com.