11 Aug What separates me from the other people on this plane?
A few weeks ago I visited Vegas thus the blog below…
Las Vegas is a magnet drawing people from around the world. The lights, gambling, entertainment, and action is the gambler’s crack cocaine. Vegas a true 24/7 city. Traffic, lines, crowds around every corner. Size is on a distorted scale. Big looks small, small is big, the walk to your car at a casino can take a 1/2 an hour.
The foundation – the insatiable human drive to wager and take risk and hopefully to get more for less. Unfortunately its not some random luck that determines the outcome its statistics. I am not a typical Vegas gambler, but I am a high stakes gambler. I am writing this on my return flight home from my trip. What separates me from the other people on this plane?
It’s the currency I gamble with. My bet is how much I can experience in life before I die. Amazingly over time all our odds are all the same, 100% of us will die. The real bet is on when and how. You make your bet pushing the slot machine play button, the reels start spinning, throw the craps dice and they hit the wall still bouncing, signal with your hand and the blackjack dealer shuffles the deck and begins dealing you a card.
The bet is in the action, the anticipation, most exciting just before the results, when you just don’t know the outcome.
We all experience a daily changing of our odds as we play in the game of life. Delay your trip of a lifetime with your spouse and you face an increasing risk of a health issue or early death increasing the odds the trip will never happen. Take that trip now and you risk having no money later for that nursing home bill. Eat healthy and exercise you can increase your odds of a good life, drink and eat a bacon burger and fries everyday you increase your odds of a heart attack. Notice I said odds, it’s not guaranteed.
I love watching the gamblers on the plane to Vegas. Everyone is talking about their system, lucky charm or strategy. Take the plane home, its dead silence. In the end how many really win over 1, 3, 5, or 10 years? Statistically none – 100% will be losers over an extended period of time the same odds we will all die. You cannot beat these odds; at best you can only delay them.
I thought I had a system and I placed a bet on living long and needing a big retirement nest egg. So I saved at the expense of living life to the fullest. As time went on I came to realize the bet was flawed. When I go snowboarding I don’t see too many 70 or 80 year old boarders. As we age our bodies and minds do change. Waiting too long to experience some aspects of life means you are guaranteed to lose the bet early.
How can you determine how much to bet? One approach – don’t risk it all, but take enough risk to feel some pain if you lose, it will propel you to reevaluate and likely change your next bet. It boils down to a bet based on compromise and common sense. Tolerate enough risk in your bet on life to always be hungry to learn some new skill or experience something new for the first time. Remember the bet also has a how. The ultimate payoff is dying while you can still feel the experience of living life to the fullest.
While in Vegas I will watch the city disappear below the horizon daily as I hike thru the desert and into the mountains of Red Rock National Recreation Area. My chips are my hiking books; my odds are I will see some beauty in the wilderness from rattlesnakes to Indian cooking mounds, from rainbow colored mountainsides with a possible bighorn sheep staring at me from a boulder to a rare desert stream with hummingbirds flying and frogs croaking. I have high odds of clearing my mind, shifting into a mode of sensual awareness.
Listening to the wind as it rushes past me, feeling the unevenness of the mountain trail thru my feet, filling my lungs with clean dry desert air, while my eyes dart from every rock, plant, and animal on the trail. Living for the moment, feeling like I am somewhere, when in reality I am in the middle of nowhere.
What makes it even better is it’s not danger free; you can fall, become lost, get bitten by a rattlesnake, or get crushed in an abandoned mine. You get to think in a different manner, this isn’t work or home; it’s you as a guest of Mother Nature. And there is usually no cell phone service to save you! But that also means no Internet, email, Facebook or texting to distract you. It just you.
Walking back to my car, reality creeps back in. The mind starts reverting back. Random at first, then the thoughts become louder as I reach the trail’s end. The voice whispers from deep within and asks? When will I have to cash in my chips? I can honestly answer, I don’t know, as I brush off the desert dust and untie my boots. The reality is none of us really knows, as our bet is still in play!
The ending question is what’s your bet in life and how much are you willing to lose?
Vegas is one of the food capitals of the world. Below is my dad eating at M&M Soul Food Cafe in Vegas. A dinner of fried okra, fried chicken, yams and sweet potato pie. Then he is throw out by security, because he tells them my cleaning lady makes better sweet potato pie (only kidding). My dad is my idol in living life to the fullest as he is still going strong at 84. He drives hot rods, chases women, and while still finding time to help disabled and homeless vets. He does this after caring for my mom for years until she died from complications of dementia and surviving 3 different cancers!
Red Rock and the Goodsprings, NV area hold a special place in my heart. I have a passion of experiencing and exploring both places. So close to civilization, yet so far. Below are some pictures from my visit.
Turtlehead Peak at a distance, I hiked it once and it was brutal.
The hike in the wash leading up to Turtlehead peak.