Contemporary man won’t be measured by the old American dream of suburban providence. Before I ventured out and into the glamorous world of apartment dwelling, I grew up in a variety of homes: a trailer in a trailer park, a trailer all-alone on four acres of grass-land and trees, an antique farm house with no neighbors, then a home with a few neighbors, and eventually a home in suburban America with too many neighbors.
For many Americans, getting to the suburbs is still the be-all and end-all of the all-American Dream. Craving the providence and convenience of highly socialized cities and towns, as evolution has taught us to do. It has held true since before the massive birthing of model homes that grew out of Post WWII America.
But let’s wind the clock back twenty, fifty, a thousand years or ten thousand years.
Historically, man’s successes have been measured by what he could claim as his own. Cave man A has big shiny rock, and is now more important than cave man B who has no rock. Nobleman A, who has a farm and a silver mine, is a better suitor than nobleman B, who has neither. Man A is more successful than man B because he has a big house in the suburbs and two American-made automobiles parked in his driveway and a 401k.
The trend still continues today. Some men are still obsessed with their own success and subjective factors that just don’t matter: have the best phone, the sharpest clothes, the coolest car or the biggest house. There are some things evolution just can’t weed out, but sit a Depression-era man in the same room as a millennial and the differences in the cultural perceptions on what makes a successful man are palpable.
The Great Recession put a lot of overly ambitious people in check. Many people who had taken out loans on houses they couldn’t afford to begin with lost them. As usual, the lower classes suffered more than everyone else, and the middle class isn’t far behind them. We Americans began to see the dangers of wanting more than we actually needed. We started paying attention to our food, our buying habits, our commodities, our way of life, and how wrong we may have been to want a certain version of “success.”
I have three college degrees, my dog, this laptop, and not much else to my name. Apart from some impressive student loan debt, I’m happy that everyday new articles and documentaries are being written to help shift cultural values of what measures a successful man.
A successful man can be the simple organic farmer. It can be the man living in a 200 square foot house on the back of a trailer he built himself. It can be the man saving money by livingly cheaply instead of spending it on things he doesn’t need anyway.
Man is quickly discovering that he needs to be living smarter, not larger.
The American Dream is no longer a game of quantity, but of quality and sustainability, and for the contemporary man that distinction will make all the difference in terms of his success.
So stop working your ass off for the life you really don’t want anyway, and start living for the life you really need. The old American Dream of suburbia is dead. You are free.
Image via www.drvondawright.com