Flipping through the off-white pages of an elementary textbook, a faded photograph captioned American Dream caught my eye. Two young girls in curls and cotton wrapped their hands tightly around their mother's leg, while a tall, dark and handsome father pushed his son on a wooden swing hanging from an old oak tree.
A family of four with smiles from ear to ear, a yard with a white picket fence and a barking dog. They seemed happy.
I slammed the history book shut and glanced up at the television; Gas Prices Nationwide Continue to Rise panned across the bottom of the screen. Rolling my eyes, I flipped to the next station. A sandy blond anchorman read from the network prompter lifelessly, "Is the American dream dead... after this short break."
Disgusted yet intrigued, I stayed tuned.
Is the American Dream really dead? Hmm.
Sick, frail and fragile, yes. But dead, no. I just spoke to the American Dream last night on the phone, and she seemed alive and ready to party! Where do I drop this so-called deceased dream off for an immediate autopsy?
To say the American Dream is dead, you must first categorize America as a whole or a solid unit, which is physically impossible.
The American dream is not dead. It has just changed. It has just grown and is now stretched in various eclectic directions. Maybe America wants a pet fish or a loft in the industrial district. Maybe America wants a cabin in Maine with a record player and a stripper pole. Maybe America wants a pink plastic fence instead of a white wooden one, who knows?
That is what makes America glorious, the opportunity to be different.
Stand on the corner of Melrose and Stanley in Los Angeles, and prepare yourself as the American dream winds up to bitch slap you across the face. Rebellious youth, business-savvy immigrants and fashion-forward students melt outside a Starbucks, covering the sidewalk in bikes, shopping bags, and headphones. Aspirations and ambition intertwine like the streets of a city map, creating an abstract piece of art titled Youth Going For It.
The American dream today can still be a heterosexual family of five, a job at the local development plant and a tire swing in your front yard. It can be as simple as a jog along the beach in the morning, or as necessary as a house with running water. Sometimes becoming a recognized citizen of the United States is a fantasy all in its own.
Does a sprained economy really equal a dying American dream?
If we were to look at worldwide economic statistics, where would the United States fall? Well, weighing in with approximately 15.09 trillion dollars of gross domestic product we score just inside of the top ten, ranked at a solid seventh place. Pretty damn good.
Sierra Leone, a country where 1.1 percent of the population has access to the Internet, ranks second to last with a gross domestic product rate of $900 per capita. Even more shattering, only 1 percent of Sierra Leone's rural population and fewer than 20 percent of its urban population has access to piped water in their homes.
The American dream does not just pertain to Americans. It's a dream, a degree of hope that spreads worldwide.
Corny, cliché and overused, belief is the key. As long as we still believe in pursuing our dreams, setting goals and never giving up, the American dream will remain immortal.
A near parallel to our economy, the United States ranks eleventh as the happiest country on earth.
Who are newscasters and studio executives to doubt the power of one man or woman with the determination to succeed? Every four years a citizen with a dream becomes president of The United States.
Today's American dream represents freedom more than ever, the freedom to do you.
Sing your own anthem
Create your own paradise.
Live for your own dreams.
We are America and we ain't dead!
Buy Jordan Pease's memoir "Accidentally Okay" through Barnes and Noble, Amazon, or off his website www.thejordanpease.com/
Jordan will be performing January 30 at the Ontario Improv, and February 12 at Flappers Comedy Club Burbank.
Follow Jordan Pease on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jordanpease1