- "The most authentic endings are the ones which are already revolving towards another beginning." – Sam Shepard (thanks Isley)
The real American Dream is about “new beginnings”. That was the dream of the Pilgrims on Plymouth Rock. That was the Dream of the waves of refugees from Ireland, Italy, Nazi Germany, Eastern Europe. Somehow over the years, the “American Dream” has been adulterated to promise something much more deterministic. The notion that if you work hard and better life will come. I’m not sure that ever was the true American Dream. All the American Dream promised was a “new beginning”. You could work hard…and totally fail. But from those [failed] pieces, you would always have the opportunity for yet another…new beginning.
- “For the last seven years, my husband struggled to balance his job and a rigorous Ph.D. program. Several times a day, I would ask myself, ‘What if all the years we put into this are wasted. What if it doesn’t work out?’…And then, imperceptibly at first, the dream began to die. One day my husband just realized that he could not push forward any more. The obstacles felt insurmountable, the rewards obscure. He knew, in a strange, clear, sad way, that it was simply time to stop. Sometimes we stay on a path long after we realize that it isn’t leading us where we want to go simply because it is embarrassing to admit that something we’ve invested time and energy into just isn’t working out the way we expected it to. Sometimes it’s easier to press on — despite the internal agony this might create — than to swallow your pride and admit that this isn’t your path. These decisions can also take on ethical dimensions. Sometimes it feels almost immoral to change your course. But Godin offers reassuring words, ‘Getting off a Cul-de-Sac is not a moral failing. It’s just smart. Seeing a Cliff coming far in advance isn’t a sign of weakness. Instead, it represents real insight and bravery.’… As I realized that this dream was dying, I started admitting it to a few trusted friends and I discovered that we weren’t alone. My private dread no longer seemed so shameful after all. When I realized that most — if not all — people experience the death of several dreams over the course of a lifetime, the stigma started to slip away….Sometimes once vibrant dreams just can’t breathe on their own anymore. Sometimes you just have to take the dream off the respirator and let it die peacefully. For whatever reason, that dream is not supposed to live on indefinitely. Maybe it’s just not a good fit for your skills, maybe the timing is off, or perhaps the dream is ultimately incompatible with your soul. As Martha Beck writes, ‘No course of action, even the most impressively constructed and widely recommended, can lead you home if it isn’t the path your soul wants to travel.’ …You can stand in that barren place in the weedy garden of your own life, amongst the sagging, withered plants, in the company of your own naked soul, and if you study the ground, you might just spot some fresh green shoots pressing through. You know yourself better now. You can begin again.”
Today is a very significant day marking a perhaps America’s biggest new beginning in decades. One World Trade Center. Taking shape for its imminent opening, I hope and expect it will be more beacon of hope than memorial to tragedy. America’s strength is not that it will never fail or never be defeated. History has shown that to be not to be the case many a time. America’s strength is that no matter what disaster or crisis befalls it, it will always be primed for a new beginning.