The Green Light
“They all understand what it is to strive for something… to want to be someone you’re not, to want to achieve something that’s just beyond reach, whether it’s professional success or wealth or idealized love – or a 4.0 or admission to Harvard,” said Susan Moran, director of the English Program at Boston Latin. In the article, “Gatsby’s Green Light Beckons a New Set of Strivers,” by Sara Rimer, Rimer quotes a group of radically and ethnically diverse students’ responses to Jay Gatsby’s green light in the well-acclaimed book, The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald. All of the students’ responses to the Gatsby’s green light were different and unique, but they all shared a common theme: Success. To them, the green light at the end of Gatsby’s dock symbolized hope. Not necessarily the hope in becoming as wealthy as Gatsby, but the hope in becoming a person whom their family, in addition to themselves, could be proud of one day. “One reason students appreciate the book is that there is a level of honesty that they value. They need these honest stories to perhaps balance what is otherwise presented as this shining possibility for everyone,” said Moran. The book, The Great Gatsby, allows these students to understand that the American Dream is not accessible to everyone, there are certain paths that are needed to be taken in order to become successful.
Although my father and I share many differences in our green lights, we also share many similarities in our journeys to success in life. When my father was about seventeen years old, his green light was aviation. He wished to either be an aeronautical engineer or a pilot. He pursued this career and went on to college in Boston to study aviation maintenance and repair. For four years he studied aviation inside and out until he graduated and went on to be a pilot in Prescott, Arizona. “The moment the back tires to the airplane left the tarmac, I was overwhelmed with a rush of adrenaline,” my father said to me. For him, flying was his high. The only issue he ran into while training to be a pilot was his method of flying. My father was obsessed with stunt flying, which wasn’t a popular method of flying for commercial airlines. Stunt flying gave him a certain feeling of freedom that commercial airlines could not. For this reason, he ran away from his first interview like the Looney Toons Roadrunner racing past the Coyote. My father remembers the pilot telling him, “If you don’t mind long hours of mind-numbing boredom, interrupted by microbursts of absolute terror, then this is not the career for you.” The airplane pilot then went on to say that most new pilots do not begin making a decent amount of money until they near their 50’s. My father wanted to pursue a career that he would love and make money in doing, so he shifted his attention away from aviation and on to engineering. For him, this move was a fun, exciting, and rewarding experience. He’s owned his own engineering firm for going on twenty years now, and he absolutely loves it. He gets to work on different projects every week with brilliant people who enjoys being around. All-in-all, it’s a perfect job for him. “At the end of the day, you need to be happy, and you need to make money doing it,” my father said to me.
My father and I share many similarities in our journeys to success in life. At seventeen years old, we were already figuring out what our green lights would be. For him, it was aviation. For me, it was art. Once we had discovered what our green lights would be, we worked day and night to reach them. Similar to my father, I first chose a career that best suited my passion. I always thrived in art classes, regardless of the level of intensity or difficulty. Aviation was my father’s high, while art is mine. Later down the road, I came to realize that in order to become an artist, I would be spending thousands of dollars on art supplies while making little to no money in return. This reversed my decision to go to college to become an artist, similar to the choice that my father made with his aviation pursuit. From art, I moved on to forensic science. I decided that forensic science would be a much better fit for me in the long run. In this field, I imagine that I will never grow bored while solving new crimes each and every day. In addition, this line of work will provide the compensation that I would like to achieve. While money isn’t everything, I agree with my father when he stated, “At the end of the day, you need to be happy, and you need to make money doing it.”
In contrast to the many similarities we share in our journeys to success in life, there are many differences in our respective green lights. At the time that my father was figuring out what his green light would be, he was seventeen and it was the 1980’s. During the 80’s, technology was advancing and expanding at a rate that made getting a job in the engineering field much easier than it would be in today’s market. Due to the highly advanced technology nowadays, majoring in forensics seems to be one of the best ideas in terms of wealth. Crime rates remain fairly steady; therefore, there is always a demand for forensic scientists, regardless of the era. The difference in time is one of the major reasons why our green lights are different. During each time era, job demands change. As such, so do wages depending on the field and demands. My father’s green light was based solely on aviation and engineering, two similar fields. He always had a general idea of the career path that would best suit him, whereas mine shifted rather drastically. Up until my sophomore year of High School, I had envisioned that I would study art in college. Forensic science is a very different line of work from that of creating art. The major difference between our paths toward our green lights lies in this change.
In the article, “Gatsby’s Green Light Beckons a New Set of Strivers,” Rimer interviewed a young girl named Jinzhao Wang who stated that “the journey toward the dream is the most important thing.” I agree with Wang’s statement entirely. I believe that the journey towards the dream is the most important thing because that is when we learn the most about ourselves, our dreams, and who we are. Without the journey, I feel like we would be lost. We wouldn’t experience the struggle of being accepted to our top choice colleges, the excitement of graduation day, the anxiety we feel during our first job interview. The journey is what makes the dream, worth it all!
-Wyle Goddard, Intern