I’ll admit it – I’m drawn to Europeans. I’m not sure if it’s because I was born there, or if I just idealize their lifestyles so much (free healthcare, more vacation time, charming historic buildings – what more could you ask for?), but I have always had a sense that I could easily move to the UK, or somewhere else in Europe, and be completely content. Europe, to me, has always seemed a welcome alternative to the intensity, vastness and roughness of the US. Or so I thought.
Recently, friends of mine from Dublin were in town for a brief visit (Believe me, this sounds way more hoity-toity than the reality. I don’t have lots of friends to start with, and the fact that two of them are based in Europe is an accident and definitely not representative of some sort of International lifestyle – I’m frankly not that interesting). We spent the better part of three hours reconnecting over drinks and one of the subjects that my friend inquired about was the state of my husband’s career and how it was progressing. In updating her on his promotional status, one of the things I mentioned is how I am also encouraging him to develop his own business as a post-retirement option. The way I see it, it’s quite possible he’ll get frustrated with the political nature of his current career and he should have an alternate option to pursue once he reaches that level. I have no doubt that he’ll be wildly successful in the business I’m encouraging him to start and fully support him in such an effort. In recounting these beliefs, my Irish friend commented to her husband, “Now that’s just what I love about America: I love the can-do spirit here.”
I had never really thought about it before, but she’s absolutely right. America IS vastly different from Europe because we still believe that anything can be done, at any time, by anyone willing to put the effort into doing it well. Yes, I believe our country is massively screwed up and I know that my more liberal values are not in harmony with a vast majority of my countrymen. However, Elaine’s comment made me realize that despite these differences, for the large part, we are all united in a belief that things can always be made better with commitment and hard work. Call it American optimism, a ‘can-do’ attitude or just plain moxie, I’m sure glad to possess it and even more glad to live in a country that fosters it. We may not have all the charms that Europe offers, but I’ll take limitless possibility over five-hundred year buildings any day.