This is one post in the “Behind Your Drive” series exploring what the American Dream means today. It is produced in conjunction with the coming launch of my new book: “Behind The Drive: An Honest Story About What It Really Takes To Chase the American Dream,” out in early 2015.

This is Art Novak, a professor at the Savannah College of Art and Design and the author of Doglegs: A Tale of Human Imperfection and Dogged Intervention. Take it, Art: 

The American Dream traditionally meant getting married, raising happy, healthy kids, making a good living, having a nice home in the suburbs. Sure, that’s not realistically attainable for as many people as before. But that’s not all bad. Because when you strive to achieve some arbitrary ideal just because others are achieving it, you’re not free. And shouldn’t any definition of the American Dream encompass freedom — the freedom to formulate and reach for your own dream.

art-novak2My dream is different than your dream. In fact, my dream is different than my dream of ten years ago. It’s always evolving.

Some people’s dreams extend far beyond the family — they have dreams for the planet. Those may be the most inspiring dreams of all, and, unfortunately, the most difficult to attain.

To even speak of an American Dream these days seems kind of quaint and outdated, not just because of the difficulty of achieving it, but because Americans’ hopes and dreams have become intertwined with those of people all over the world. We probably should start talking in terms of the Human Dream or the Universal Dream. We’re all on this boat together.

Check out Art’s book at