A Change in Perspective
4. strongly desired goal or purpose
I find myself in a period of my life where my perspectives can change in an instant. My worldview and ideologies are as fragile as my heart. However, how I define words never changed beyond the dictionary definition. Growing up I learned that words were just as fragile as beliefs.
One word in particular I adored was: Dream.
I found beauty in the word and its meaning. That no matter what, you could achieve anything you have ever wanted with a dream. Life was much like a Disney film to me, and I was quite content in Neverland, never growing up.
Arthur Miller’s ‘Death of a Salesman’ redefined what a dream was to me. I sat and pondered to myself as I read the play. As an actor, one must know their character’s motives, wants, and needs. The most thought provoking character, to me, was Willy. The salesman himself. Clearly, a salesman wants to make a profit, and provide for his family. However, I pondered why Willy chose to become a salesman to achieve this want. I came to the conclusion that a salesman is a dreamer. Individuals with minds filled to the brim with dreams believe that they can make it big anywhere they go. Willy’s need was to fulfill his dreams. His American Dream.™
Through my readings, I sympathized for Willy. However, I found my change in perspective when I began to view the world through Biff’s eyes. I saw my bright optimism fade away in favour of a more realistic and cynical perspective. Willy was never anything more than a mad man to me. I thought his dreams were unrealistic for his son, as I too have been in Biff’s position. It was a sort of catharsis to me.
Growing up, I promised my father I would do incredible things with my life. I would be an astronaut, or perhaps a lawyer that would never fail a case. He loved me for my future, thus I attained his infinite love and support.
Growing up was quite difficult to me, however. 5th grade saw a younger version of my present self being bullied for his glasses, his race, and his unkempt hair. Reality hit him harder than any bully could. For the first time in his life he realized that some things were far out of his control. He would be ridiculed for it, and it would limit his ability and will to succeed.
Growing up, I was a disappointment to my father. My grades would fail, yes, but far beyond that my certainty for the future vanished. I was overwhelmed by so many opportunities knowing that I could never succeed in any of them.
Seeing my own life through Biff’s I began to form my own idea on how to define a dream.
1. an endless cycle of impersonation beyond circumstance. attempting to achieve the lifestyle of those wealthier, happier, or more successful than you are.
synonym: fantasy, illusion, false hope
(example: American Dream™ among a Streetcar Named Desire and The Death of a Salesman.)
An instance of such impersonations, though not quite direct, is the hierarchy of early 20th century America explored through the eyes of Willy and Stanley. Willy is unhappy in his life due to his failure in providing an ideal lifestyle for his family. All his life he pursued happiness through individualism, just as many men before him has. He wants so desperately to become Stanley in that he wishes to be seen as masculine and strong. At the time, what defined a man was his ability to provide for his family, and this was precisely his dream. Willy did not, however, achieve this goal. Though some may claim that he died a tragic hero, Willy was nothing more than another victim consumed by the American Dream. ™ Sure, he was sad and ill. In his mind, he died a hero because he saw himself as the quintessence of what a man should be. This was the legacy he wished to leave for Biff and Happy. The breadwinner that could just as easily provide for himself as any other man could. His life was over once he received the validation he had done his duty as a father. It was over for him, as he believed he conquered his dream.
Such a tale inspires many to toss aside their dreams. To see that dreams are merely fantasy with no hope of becoming reality.
A hero’s story would speak of attaining their dream regardless of odds.
However, I am no hero. As much as I would love to write on my success in my career and maintaining a good relationship with my family, those things are merely dreams. In reality, I have succeeded in very little, and that is my unfortunate reality.