When I first read Martin Dressler: The Tale of An American Dreamer, I thought it was a very inspiring book. It talked about the life of an individual whose hardwok and perseverance took him to the top of his dreams. Well, it can be inspiring in some way. Holding to your dreams and trying your best is one of the main themes of the story. However, after I finished the book, I realized that it was not as inspiring as I thought it is. For me, it is now a book that tells something about the bitter side of life and success. It exposes one of the painful things this world is trying to conceal—that success is the golden crown of an empty heart.
From the story of Martin Dressler, I realized that success is not as great as what most of us think and dream of. Success is a traitor that kidnaps the people’s opportunities to be happy with the one they love. Once success has kidnapped you, it will ask for your most precious possession—your family—as its ransom. As Martin Dressler moves to the top of his ladder of success, he also moves down to the pit of his decaying family. Following his dreams was indeed an achievement for him, but it was also the same thing that leads him to a miserable family life.
In my opinion, most of us share the same situation with Martin Dressler. I, myself, have also experienced to be kidnapped by success. When I started college, which I consider as one of my greatest achievements because not everyone could have the access to good education, I noticed that I was becoming too busy with my studies that I almost forgot to spend some quality time with my family. I got too blinded with the achievement that I was holding with my hand. During that time, I feared that I might lose the chance to be in college if I would not get serious with my schooling.
As a result, I spent most of my time inside my room and in the library studying. Until one day, my mother asked me to have a conversation with her. From that, I learned how fast my relationship with them has changed since I went to college. I realized my mistake and from then on, I incorporated good time management to my everyday life. For me, success can never bring danger if one knows how to manage his time well. Success can never betray you if you know how to deal with it. Another thing that I noticed with the character of Martin Dressler is his great ability to make things happen.
If examined, he started barely from anything. His perseverance was very admirable, especially during in his time when only the rich people could afford to put up a business like what he had. On my own opinion, though, hardwork and perseverance is not enough. One’s character is not the only thing that matters when following a dream. A person should not think that he can achieve success by relying solely on his own. He should also consider the people around him. Through building good relationships with people, one can have a better reach of his dreams. Everyone of us is a dreamer.
Most of our dreams are actually an American dream. To be successful is not bad. To be on top of our achievements is not selfishness. However, I realized that if we let our dreams to be our masters, the more it is hard for us to achieve them. Our dreams are our navigator to the place where we want to be in the future. But they should never be the center of our life for we might miss the real treasure—our family. Meanwhile, another book shares almost the same things of Martin Dressler’s story—Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees, presenting the life of the American installation artist Robert Irwin.
Although both characters have opposing personalities and were born in two different time frames, Martin Dressler and Robert Irwin still share the same experiences and philosophy in life. Both of their stories are a representation of a fulfilled dream—Dressler in achieving his dream of becoming a successful businessman, and Irwin in achieving his dream of finding the best field where he excels at. The two biographical writers namely Steven Millhauser and Lawrence Weschler, however, used two different approaches in portraying Dressler and Irwin.
Millhauser, in his book The Tale of an American Dreamer, has included not only the beautiful and inspiring aspect of Dressler’s life but also the downside effect of the success he achieved. This was not incorporated by Weschler in presenting the life of Irwin. For me, his book simply narrates how Irwin started to have interest in the field of arts, how he became a painter, how he became inquisitive with his artistic limitations, and how he finally got his way to the field of installation art. Reading the first few pages of the book Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees, I easily got hooked into it.
The first part was describing Irwin’s childhood and the people and the kind of environment that mainly influenced him. However, as I continue reading, I felt alienated in the way Weschler describing things on Irwin’s craft. Sometimes, I found myself clueless of what he was narrating. Probably it is because I have no idea at all with some of the jargons in painting and installation art. There were some words that I did not understand and required me to research about them. The book, for me, seems a little bit technical if compared to the book The Tale of an American Dreamer.
Analyzing the main character’s life, though, leads me to conclude that his story is nevertheless the same as ours. In some point in our lives, we get confused on which path it is that we really will be taking. Everday, we are confronted with many choices, from the time we awake up to the time we take rest. It then makes me wonder how people make choices, specifically the right ones. What could be their criteria? In my own point of view, people make their choices by selecting the option where they would feel greater happiness or fulfillment.
But depending on what kind of person you are, happiness and fulfillment is very subjective. Everyone has his own story when asked about what it is that makes him happy and fulfilled. Eventhough it is hard to agree on such an issue, I think the important thing to remember is that we fully identify and know ourselves. By knowing ourselves means knowing our needs, including our need for happiness. When we recognize this need, then I think it is easier for us to know where we can find happiness.
This for me is what the book about Irwin’s life represents. He looked for his happiness by addressing his need to express his thoughts and his self. For me, the works that he did can make him feel that a portion of his self is being fulfilled. Talking about dreams, Dressler and Irwin, for me, are both portrayers of it. However, they represent dreams in two different faces: one is a dream in exchange for something, and two is a dream in search for something. It seems to me that Dressler’s American dream is crueler than Irwin’s dream.
Although self- fulfilling, Dressler’s idea of success yields more on the financial aspect as compared to the psychological one that Irwin has. For me, that of Irwin’s is a degree higher than that of Dressler. As a result, both of them gained successes that are in two different aspects, too. What Dressler achieved is a financial success while Irwin attained a more personal one. Works Cited Millhauser, Steven. The Tale of an American Dreamer. New York: Vintage Books, 1997 Weschler, Lawrence. Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees. USA: University of the California Press, 1982
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