…to pursue the American Dream is not only futile but self-destructive because ultimately it destroys everything and everyone involved with it. By definition it must, because it nurtures everything except those things that are important: integrity, ethics, truth, our very heart and soul. Why? The reason is simple: because life is giving, not getting.
It seems to me that we all have a dream of our own, our own personal vision, our own individual way of giving, but for many reasons we are afraid to pursue it, or to even recognize and accept its existence. But to deny our vision is to sell our soul. Getting is living a lie, turning our back on the truth: Obviously nothing external can truly nurture my inner life, my Vision.
What happens when I turn my back on my vision and spend my time and energy getting the stuff of the American Dream? I become agitated, uncomfortable in my own skin, because the guilt of abandoning my self, of deserting my vision, forces me to apologize for my existence, to need to prove myself by approaching life as if it’s a competition. i have to keep getting stuff in am attempt to appease and satisfy that vague sense of discontent that worms its way through me.
Certainly not everyone will experience this torment, but enough do and have no idea what is wrong. I’m sure the psychologists have a term for this free-floating anxiety, but the cause is what is destroying us, not the classification. There are always millions who seem to get away with doing things that we think abominable, and thrive. It certainly appears that way. Yet I know, absolutely, from my experience, that there are no free lunches in this life, and eventually we all have to accept full and total responsibility for our actions, everything we have done, and have not done.
Hubert Selby Jr., Requiem for a Dream (Preface)
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