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The "white picket fence dream"

The "white picket fence dream" is what I have named the point in one's life where you have finally reached the standard of living in a fully detached (free-hold) house, 2 cars, 2.5 kids (including the dog), and ofcourse, your little white picket fence in front.  Life is assumed to be very content and all goals have been reached.  (Hey! Its a 'dream', work with me here)

Ever since my last year of college, this has always seemed to me to be the goal of the average, ordinary individual.  While my youthful experience is slowly grasping the appreciation of accmomplishing such a feat (which by no means is easy, no matter where you live); it personally gives me a sour and depressing feeling; that a single life, while full of limitless potential, is somehow focused and 'programmed?' to strive for this single greatest achievement.  The stability and security seems to plateau there, with any further evolution of an empire resting with siblings in the family.  Providing them with nothing more then a reference and expectations to build up the same status during the course of their lives.  I assume given the same cycle of repetition for 100 years, the family could eventually aspire to great dominance through its real estate alone.

Still, the fact remains an incredible curiosity to me that if the path taken by an individual to build an empire through business and capitalism, sacrificing partly (through delay) this 'white picket fence dream', might not the evolution of power and dominance be attained sooner?  Sure, its more risky, but considering the alternative (the 'dream'), what have you got to lose?

And while my young selfish mind craves "more";  The white picket fence is not nearly enough, for if history is to remember you; you must achieve more.  But I wonder, why are not more people striving for, er.. well,  'more'?  Or maybe they are and I'm too blind to witness it.  I hear so many people talk about dreams, but almost none wake-up to try an achieve them.  Its hard to push yourself out of your comfort zone, but you've got to wonder, 'what-if'?



(This is what you get by watching 3 hours of 'Family Guy' and listening to Stewie.)

sedwo
Monday, June 30, 2003

The home and wife and kids and cars and white picket fence are cultural/social expectations.  You need to find things that are meaningful to you, personally.  Things you are passionate about.  Maybe it's gardening.  Maybe it's rock climbing.  Maybe it's religious work.

-Thomas

Thomas
Monday, June 30, 2003

The "white picket fence" has nothing to do with the house.

It's about having a family that loves you, and that you provide a comfortable life for. Many people (myself included) find this to be the true measure of a fulfilled life.

Other people place values in different areas. The trick is to figure out what *you* want, not what people expect of you. If being a multi-zillionaire is what you really want to be, and are willing to sacrifice other things to get it, then go for it.

In the end, all you have is your own memories. If you can look back at them and say "I'm proud I did that" then you've chosen the right thing for you.

Me, my firstborn pride is due August 17th. That's where my priorities are.

-Chris

Chris Tavares
Monday, June 30, 2003

> But I wonder, why are not more people striving for,
> er.. well,  'more'?

It may be that the cost/benefit ratio of taking more risks hits an equilibrium with the "dream" you describe. As one becomes more successful, one also takes on more responsibility, often as a bread winner for several dependent loved ones. Providing for them is challenging and amplifies the danger in failure. Putting the whole family at risk to take success to the next level may not be acceptable to all effected participants.

Consider that your wife may want, say, a garden. She can have that garden if the family saves some extra money for a month or so. But if she wants a helicopter landing pad built and an aircraft to exercise it, the tradeoff is much more severe. The family could win that landing pad and more, or it could lose the house, the garden, and all its current land-bound vehicles. Most people apparently don't feel that it's worth the risk, or they have no idea how to make such an order-of-magnitude change in their lives. It's hard enough getting that picket fence.

> (This is what you get by watching 3 hours
> of 'Family Guy' and listening to Stewie.)

Did you just pick up one of those compilation DVDs? I saw a boxed set that had four disks. I remain tempted.

Steven E. Harris
Monday, June 30, 2003

It is wrong to assume that you know the content of other people's dreams. If that was even possible, who is qualified to judge the content of those dreams? Some days I dream about owning a house with a nice picket fence, other days I dream about how I would like to be puff daddy. Most days, however, I dream about how it would be much nicer to be running around outside, rather than sitting in this office. In any case, none of this should make any difference in your life, just like your dreams make no difference in mine.

beaver
Monday, June 30, 2003

>>In any case, none of this should make any difference in your life, just like your dreams make no difference in mine.

speaks the person who sees nothing beyond his own mind. I thought the people on this forum seeked to understand others and further themselves. Obviously you are the exception beaver.

Yanwoo
Monday, June 30, 2003

Well, I think two reasonable goals for life are
a) Have fun
b) Leave a lasting impression

(b) is optional, but obviously many people feel it's essential. I think the best way to accomplish it is to leave one or more well-raised children who will, by their presence, move humanity forward on a social evolutionary scale.

If you're willing to simply enjoy your lot in life and leave no mark other than the memories of your friends, then it's all about enjoying your time on earth in whatever form that may be.

So for my part - I have a stable household and two children that I'm going to raise the best I can to be decent individuals.

Other than that, I'm trying to set up a threesome with a Playboy Playmate.

Philo

Philo
Monday, June 30, 2003

Yes.  My girlfriend surprised me with it yesterday, and I just watched the first two DVD's.  I have always missed its viewing on television.  But did manage to see one episode.  I must say, in my opinion, it beats the Simpson's and forms one of the best dysfunctional famly structure I have ever witnessed.  My brain just eats it up.  Especially Stewie.

Returning to the topic at hand; while this subject may seem to be a digression from the regular software/employment/idiot this and that... discussion dribble, it is something that I consider to remain very important when the choice of how you spend your working life presents itself from time to time.

Very recently a thread mentioned the books of Ayn Rand and her philosophy on Objectivism.  Most interesting is how the poster quoted the authors' meaning to, "Live live for yourself".  Totally selfish, and necessary if one is to accomplish greatness.

sedwo
Monday, June 30, 2003

> "Live live for yourself".  Totally selfish, and necessary if one is to accomplish greatness.

I don't think so. Maybe we should think of the thousands who have achieved greatness by working or sacrificing themselves for others. Unless of course you are narrow enough to define 'greatness' as 'being able to impose your will on others'.

David Clayworth
Monday, June 30, 2003

Maybe we should think of the thousands who have achieved greatness by working or sacrificing themselves for others.

These great people had a choice to do whatever they wanted. You can look at it as though they selfishly chose to help others to boost their own ego. So in effect they really did not sacrifice any part of themselves in their pusuit.

Getting back to the white picket fence. It is easier to get married and churn out some kids than to have a successful career. In the US the divorce rate is about 50% and usually the less successful you are the more kids you have and at an earlier age.

Tom Vu
Monday, June 30, 2003

The goal of most companies I've worked with seems to have been to keep their technical employees on the edge of their seat and as close as possible to a feeling that the employee would be terminated and would fall off a cliff on a moment's notice. Even if they are actually secure, the *perception* of insecurity is sought.


Sic: "comfort" and "contentment" seem to be anathema to the typical IT department, which wants to see nervous, somewhat insecure and hyped up coders and others. Most managers I've dealt with seem to think that a fairly high hassle and stress factor is necessary to get the "best" out of their people.

Creativity and real accomplishment in such an environment? Fuggedaboutit.

Bored Bystander
Monday, June 30, 2003

I interpret "live life for yourself" in the same vein I made my first comment: do what has meaning for you.  It's not about living a self-centered life, caring only for pleasing yourself.  It's about living your own life, not living for someone/something else or living the life others want or expect you to live.

-Thomas

Thomas
Monday, June 30, 2003

(this is from part of a post about John Lenin)

> the guy was a seeker and tried pretty much every
> method in the book to find peace within himself...from drugs, to
> religion, to "scream therapy", to...?
>
> seemed like he just finally got around to figuring out what made him
> happy very shortly before he died. he had sort of finally begun to get
> to know his son julian and, by most accounts, become quite the family
> man.
> i really think that's the biggest tragedy about his death...it seemed
> he finally learned how to let go of the bull and live for himself
> and his family and then he was cut down in the midst of it.

http://groups.google.com/groups?q=playboy+group:rec.audio.pro&hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&scoring=d&selm=Xns93A9DBB307C6Bznexgnj%40130.81.64.196&rnum=1

This kind of "white picket fence" "american dream" stuff fascinates me. How the dream of a simple life is translated so quickly into material posessions - detached house, etc.


Monday, June 30, 2003

Ignorance is bliss; and when you're a child without the responsibility's of what it takes to support the materialistic world around you, then 'life is simple'.  Through experience along the road of life, the choices you make will decide how you strive to attain that once 'simple' lifestyle.  The 'white picket fence dream' seems in my opinion to be that equivalent.

An older man once stated while arguing this exact point with me that, "...it's because it works".  My interpretation of this is that human civilization's from past to present, around the globe, have tried and tested many ways of life.  The evolution of it all has therefore proven this lifestyle to maintain not only content, but stability, security, the way of civilian life as we know it.  Those that attain more, seem to also sacrifice/risk more.  I guess what you put in, is what you get out.

Being human is tougher then it looks.  Choosing a life to live, is even more perplexing.

(Damn the 'Matrix')

sedwo
Monday, June 30, 2003

Human beings are the only animals plagued with trying to understand their lives.

(Plagarized from...someone)

Entrepreneur
Monday, June 30, 2003

Just as a side issue: I do not know about your part of the woods, but surely over here the "white picket fence" requires an amount of money far out of reach for most people that have to start from ground zero.
The skyrocketing of property prices in large parts of Europe means that for the current generation of 30 somethings to get to what their parents still thought of as "normal" requires quite a bit of "risk taking".
You would not be able to get to the "detached house level" on two "good" saleries alone.

Just me (Sir to you)
Tuesday, July 01, 2003

> But I wonder, why are not more people striving for, er..
> well,  'more'?

There are. The "white picket fence" (WPF) is not the only dream around.

The problem is that the other dreams tend to be riskier (sp?). Take music - for every band with a successful career, there are dozens, maybe hundreds of them that never get anywhere. Same thing with actors.

IMHO, the main advantage of the WPF is its low risk. When things go wrong, you usually have a good base from which to try again.

I'm not saying it's easier. I firmly believe in the contrary - I give *a lot* more value to a couple that raises their children and turns them into good human beings, living happy lives of their own, than I give Bill Gates for creating MS, or NASA for landing on the moon, or whatever.

As hard as any science/business/whatever may be, there's nothing harder than being a balanced human being, and successfully passing those values onto others. "Balanced" means doing that which is expected of a human being, and feeling good with yourself for it. I know I fail a lot in this department.

--
"Suravye ninto manshima taishite (Peace favor your sword)" (Shienaran salute)
"Life is a dream from which we all must wake before we can dream again" (Amys, Aiel Wise One)

Paulo Caetano
Tuesday, July 01, 2003

> The skyrocketing of property prices in large parts of
> Europe means that for the current generation of 30
> somethings to get to what their parents still thought of as
> "normal" requires quite a bit of "risk taking".
> You would not be able to get to the "detached house
> level" on two "good" saleries alone.

That depends on how close to the great urban centers you want to stay.

In 99 I went on a weekend tour with a couple of friends to an area of Portugal known as "Oeste" (the West). We went to a town called Batalha (Battle), where there's a very beautiful monastery dedicated to a battle (I believe it's the battle of Aljubarrota, but I'm not sure; my history skills are not very good).

At the time, one of our group was looking for an apartment in Lisbon (he didn't even considered a house, as it was way more expensive), and we happened to pass by a real estate agency, and decided to compare the prices. We found out you could buy a house in Batalha (+/- 120 Kms from Lisbon) with 4-6 rooms, garage, a little land around for the price that you'd pay for a 1-room apartment in Lisbon, in an average prized location. The 1-room apartments sold in the Expo-98 area, for instance, were a lot more expensive than a large house in Batalha.

--
"Suravye ninto manshima taishite (Peace favor your sword)" (Shienaran salute)
"Life is a dream from which we all must wake before we can dream again" (Amys, Aiel Wise One)

Paulo Caetano
Tuesday, July 01, 2003

The "while picked fence dream" seems pretty pathetic to me.

I am an entrepreneur. I currently earn 3x the money I could earn working as a lead developer.

To me, life is meaningful if you have lots of exciting and HARD challenges.

Dangerous Avenger
Tuesday, July 01, 2003

"To me, life is meaningful if you have lots of exciting and HARD challenges."

I guess it also depends on whose lives you're gambling with. Having kids changes the landscape.

Just me (Sir to you)
Tuesday, July 01, 2003

I think I'm starting to understand why the world sucks so much.

Troy King
Tuesday, July 01, 2003

> I am an entrepreneur. I currently earn 3x the money I
> could earn working as a lead developer.

I saw a story on TV the other day, about an entrepeneur. She was a hairdresser, and "started her own biz" as a drug dealer (sort of; it would be more appropriate to say she entered a franchise). She herself had trouble figuring out how much her earnings had risen after her career change.

> To me, life is meaningful if you have lots of exciting and
> HARD challenges.

Her life was filled with exciting hard challenges. She must have failed one of those along the way, since she was giving the interview from prison.

Ok, turning off sarcasm.

What makes you believe the "white picket fence" doesn't have hard challenges?
--
"Suravye ninto manshima taishite (Peace favor your sword)" (Shienaran salute)
"Life is a dream from which we all must wake before we can dream again" (Amys, Aiel Wise One)

Paulo Caetano
Tuesday, July 01, 2003

"necessary if one is to accomplish greatness. "

Notice whos definition of greatness you have to
buy into. The hardest thing for people to be is
themselves. It's hard because we have all these
other scripts and pressures telling us what to be. We tend not to trust or even hear our inner voice.

Determine what you think is greatness.
Determine what your want. And never look back.

This is not new, it sounds corny, but i still wonder why it is so  hard to do.

There are lots of traps for the seekers. We tend to get caught in the money trap. The family trap. The addition trap. The power trap. The artist trap. Everywhere are traps. Different traps for different people. A trap for you is heaven for someone else.

What is most scary is when you look inside and you can't find a passion, a want, a direction.

Then i would say statistically that people with family and networks of relationships are happier. Rich people aren't much happier than not so rich people. But if your burning desire is to be a great artist then this hardly matters.

valraven
Tuesday, July 01, 2003

valraven, you nailed it. I've seen a lot of people chase the dollar and get it, and they're still not happy. The stuff doesn't fill the void.

Troy King
Tuesday, July 01, 2003

I feel to be one of those souls who is tortured by the two words, 'what if..'.  But ponder for a moment, about the futures of some of these discussion replies.  Do we not wish that our children become success stories and help change the world (like Bill Gates, et al.) ?

Avoiding digression about fate and universal dice games; the best we can hope for our lives is to reimburse that energy onto the world around us.  Monetary rewards are great, for they fulfill the WPF dream.  But in a larger picture, if your life was lived with little influence on the world, then your best chance is to rely on your children.  Sadly, this seems to depress many parents today.

An interesting personal observation though is those who chose a life of more materialistic measure, lack the patience, finesse, and appreciation of the people around them.  Hence, business and money seem to become the preffered comfort zone.  Or maybe this is just that rough 'transition' from middle-class to upper-class; before snobbery and 24/7 booze kick in.

(Note to self: Start your own weblog)

sedwo
Tuesday, July 01, 2003

The difficult thing for people who don't have families to see is that the WPF life is nowhere near as easy as it looks.  Yeah, you see the happy family with one or two working parents, happy kids, a dog, etc.

What you don't see is someone paying the bills, wondering if their career is safe, are the kids doing OK, is the car running well, etc.  Maintaining a stable life, whether in a WPF life or not, is very difficult.  It's sort of like steering a car down an icy road.  From a bystander's point of view, the car may be tooling along nicely, but inside, the driver's constantly adjusting the wheel, worried that he might lose traction at any point.

To offset that, of course it's nowhere near as dark as I made it sound (at least, not for me).  It's just that it ain't easy.  Now, if I could have the WPF AND complete financial self-reliance, well that would be something.  Like others have mentioned though, unless Daddy was rich (and dead), financial self-reliance usually requires a selfishness that eliminates the possibility of the WPF life.

David
Tuesday, July 01, 2003

BTW, to those non-Americans, the "white picket fence" is merely a metaphor.  Other than a few very old neighborhoods in the northeast, there aren't really houses with white picket fences in the front yard.

David
Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Nobody says that life has to end with the White Picket Fence. There are other things to use one's life and energies on.

A personal example:
I'm into amateur astronomy. This happens to be one of those expensive hobbys you hear so much about. Its also a chance to use my mind for other things besides whether Java or .Net is THE ONE TRUTH, or when management is going to grow a brain and figure out how to actually release software, or whether Vi or Visual Studio is best for development.

I could not indulge in this hobby without having the stability provided by the "WPF".

AnMFCAndJavaProgrammer
Tuesday, July 01, 2003

> Do we not wish that our children become success stories
> and help change the world (like Bill Gates, et al.) ?

How would you define success?

Why do you think one has to help change the world for his life to be a success?

Paulo Caetano
Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Two things:
1. The trick is not getting what you want, it is wanting what you get.
2. Good enough is the enemy of great.
If you don't want a white picket fence, don't go get a white picket fence. Also, don't try and change my fence just because it is not what you want.

Dougwithau
Tuesday, July 01, 2003

"I thought the people on this forum seeked to understand others and further themselves. Obviously you are the exception"

Funny you say that since personally, I mysely thought the people on this forum seeked to float above the ocean of sticky yam jam and link up with the global koala intestine. Obviously you are the exception, Yanwoo.

Green Mojo
Tuesday, July 01, 2003

...I want to be an exceptional person too....

FullNameRequired
Tuesday, July 01, 2003


You bunch of wimps.  Don't you realize you have to run twice as fast to stand still.

Now move it out!!!  You are definitely falling behind US!!

The Jones Family
Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Trully, I think that making a lasting empression isn't all that important, neither is the "white picket " dream.  Personally, It would be great to sit in a country club, playing golf, it'll be fun to pluck snot on gimpy, old men. I wrote a song, reflecting the "white picket fences", as it is called, and I agree with the author of the website, however, it is wrong to quote one's "dreams" as futile. The dream, is simply a war between the blue collar and white collar world, also known as "the world of The Organization Man". It is simply competition.

                                              ~poet expressman,
                                                                  Marc, age:17

marc scott
Sunday, May 30, 2004

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