When I say the American Dream, I don't mean the one about owning a house in the suburb, with 2.5 children and a minivan.
What I mean is that distinctly American belief that things work themselves out.
Perhaps this unabashed optimism isn't unique to the United States. I couldn't say, as I have never been outside the U.S. But I do notice that even the most cynical Americans I know, when faced with an impossible problem, shrug on occasion and say, "It'll all work out."
I found myself believing the exact same thing in spite of there being no evidence I would be able to pay the rent. In spite of rejection, in spite of everything that's gone wrong this month, I still believed things would work out. Why? I'm not a Believer. In the last few years, I've generally become an atheist.
I once saw, on the Sopranos a scene where the MC and a Russian woman had sex. (The scene was the afterglow.) The Russian woman had one leg. The MC (Tony Soprano) was impressed with this woman's ability to figure out how to build her own website. "You lose a leg, you start makin' websites," he said, in typical American fashion, as if making websites somehow served as an inspiration to him. Her reply was interesting. "Is that what you think? You think people like me exist to inspire people like you? You Americans always expect something good to happen. The rest of the world expects something bad to happen, and they're not wrong."
That struck me as a timeless truth.
And yet, it did work out, as it always seems to. I've got rent, bills, and a good start on next month's rent.
What do you think? Do you think Americans could do with some healthy cynicism?
EDIT: Whenever things go really wrong, I start to hum that awful tune from American Splendor. "Where is my American Splendor, in a world that's cloudy and grey . . . " People hardly ever get the joke, but I guess you have to see the movie to get it. Then again, I must admit I have a very strange sense of humor. Not as strange as Arlyle's, but strange.