Day is Done
Labor Day is like summer’s light switch: turn if off and the summer crowds and events are gone. This was a glorious summer in the Adirondacks but all good things must end: one last look as the sun dips beyond the treetops and the season, and life, change. All that’s missing is the sound of a bugle playing Taps.
As a kid my parents sent me to a YMCA camp along the shores of Lake George: ten kids to a bunk that was an old Army tent. Reveille woke us to a day filled with activities and sports: we made lifelong friendships and learned how to grow up. Counselors were college kids we looked up to: early-on one introduced me to my lifelong love of music and guitars. And at the end of the day Taps was played as we drifted off from exhaustion.
One summer they took 20 of us on a 90-mile canoe trip: paddling, portaging, and setting up camp for 10 days. That was the first time any of us knew we could anything that hard: hiking, like biking, were natural kid activities, but shooting rapids and being pushed beyond our endurance levels opened our eyes to the things people could do when challenged. We told stories about our experiences around nightly campfires and drifted off to our counselors saying good job and good night.
My last summer at that camp was a 6-week bus trip with 26 other kids to every national park in America: suddenly 2-dimensional pictures became 3-dimensional experiences. We pitched tents each night after traveling to and exploring that day’s park: we learned that America the Beautiful was more than a song. We were mostly city kids who’d grown up and mostly stayed around our own neighborhoods: now our boundaries seemed endless.
Each of those summers ended with heartfelt goodbyes: some stayed in touch for a year, others for a lifetime. My summers now are again spent on wilderness lakes and the same feeling comes over me when each ends. Last night as I was getting ready to leave the Adirondacks and return to our home in Las Vegas I imagined the bugle’s notes as the last rays of the sun faded into dark. I think we all need a place that nurtures today with the memories of yesterday: where we can act like kids, have great experiences, live the dream, and get ready for whatever comes next. We never know what our future holds, but we should have faith that it will be good: remember that every sunset is both the end of one day and the promise of another.
My message this week is about transitioning from one thing to the next:
“New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.” Lao Tzu
I remember getting the call that Steve Wynn has sold the Golden Nugget in Atlantic City: we thought the world had come to an end. Shortly after that he started developing the Mirage and we rejoined him at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas and rejoiced. And then 14 years later he sold Mirage Resorts to MGM: it was like getting hit by lightening twice. That sale was especially unsettling because he didn’t have another existing company to join. But he bought the Desert Inn and started to build what would become a new company called Wynn Las Vegas. Both of those new beginnings were disguised as painful endings: we were sorry to see the past go away but quickly got into building a new team, at a new company. We often have trouble seeing past the pain that comes from change instead of seeing it as the chance to do something new. Don’t keep looking in the rear view mirror when the view out the windshield is filled with the promise of a new tomorrow.