February 8, 2011
Last week due to a flight cancellation I ended up with a six hour layover in Vegas. Im not the Vegas type but I teach and research on popular culture and more than a few of my students head to Vegas for Spring Break so I decided to take a cab, see one casino, spend no more than 20 bucks and head home. That way I could say Ive done Vegas.
With some advice from the airport information desk and a phone call to a friend who attends a conference there each year, I headed out the airport door to find the Hard Rock Casino.
Actually, I couldve played slots there in the airport. The airport slot machines (yes, really) claim to have given away $13 million last year. As generous as that sounds, Vegas is arranged and designed to do one thing: dazzle you away from your money. The people movers and escalators in the airport, the cattle chutes that line you up for cabs, the neon lights, the dramatic architecture, the velvet ropes, the glitzy showsall of it designed so Vegas makes money despite giving away 13 million in the airport alone.
Nevertheless, I bought four $5 chips and headed to the black jack table. I actually won four out of six hands and got the faintest thought about hot streak and knew it was time to part company with my less successful table mates. Buying chips was easy, cashing them out required GPS and a canteen: Vegas is arranged to take your money, not give it back.
As I rode in the cab back to the airport, simultaneously glad to be out but also drawn to wonder what else, and what if? I asked my cabbie how long hed been in Vegas.
So youve seen it all.
Oh, yes, its easy to get in trouble. The gambling, the booze, the hookers, the women from out of town that try to dress like the hookers . . .
Are you married?
Yes, for 10 years. My first five years here I made all the dumb mistakes but that got old. And then you just want something better.
We were back to the airport; I thanked him for his time and tipped him out of my winnings.
I still had time before my flight and so I began thinking about my life in comparison to Vegas. Vegas is arranged completely for its mission. The mission is not particularly wholesome or family friendly but it is clear. What am I about? Is my life arranged with such singular focus? If someone studies my life, am I as clear about what I SAY is important to me as Vegas is? I dont think so. Not yet. Hopefully, “compass” will help me.
So, a big goal for me this year is to arrange my life for success in what matters most. So where will I start? Ill start small.
1) Ive bookmarked the My One Word site and have reminders in my calendar program to check in, read and reflect on the various blog posts there.
2) Ive put my word on my screensaver (actually, all of themlife is cumulative).
3) Ive committed to SAY my word daily in some wayif only to myself. My word is compass to emphasize the journey Im on with Christ. Ive already used to avoid stumbling and to recover when Ive stumbled.
4) Im keeping a compass handy in form of reading material that keeps me on track. Packing a book or keeping the Kindle handier than I have will allow one more encounter with Truth during the day.
Hopefully, someday, Ill be as clear as Vegas but with a different message and mission . . . and my life will be described as paying out far more than Im raking in.