Sunday, September 11, 2016

Day is Done

 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.

Stay well

Thursday, September 1, 2016

As Different As Night and Day

As Different As Night and Day

People often compare one thing to another and want to say they’re different: but as different as they might be, they’re also similar. Maybe it would be better to just recognize them each for what they are.

I live in Las Vegas and spend summers in the Adirondack Mountains: these are as different as two places can be. I originally started spending time here in the mountains to get a break from the crowd and tumult of Las Vegas: the difference being one is busy and the other quiet.  And I leave Vegas in the summer to escape the heat, and return at summer’s end to avoid the cold: hot and cold are also as different as two things can be. But they’re not so different: it’s still me, there are things to do, friends to see and good times in each. Maybe they’re not so different.

We have two granddaughters and spend lots of time with them: they live near us in Las Vegas and recently visited us here in the mountains. One is 4, the other 2; one is blond, the other brunette; one looks like she might grow to be tall, the other seems like she’ll be more like me.  But they’re both wonderfully unique and full of being themselves: maybe they’re not so different.

We have a 20-year old Jeep here that endures because it’s only used 2 or three months a year: it’s a good old car (emphasis on old). But we’ve become nervous about taking it on longer trips here so we bought a gently used Toyota to allay those concerns: the new one as apparently different from the old. But they’re still good and reliable vehicles that can get us from one place to another: we may use them for different purposes, but they’re not really so different.

I could go on with many more comparisons between things that I have that are different any yet similar (sneakers and guitars quickly come to mind): but what’s the point.  We all have lots of things that are dear to us: we get much pleasure (and use) from each and so maybe there’s no reason to make comparisons.  And if we spend too much time on those comparisons we just might miss the moments we spend with each and that would be unfortunate.  Ram Dass taught us to “be here now”; Crosby Stills and Nash sang “love the one you’re with”: both offer sage advice.  Every night and day offers great opportunities: live each moment to the fullest to get the most out of life.

Here’s one of my messages about knowing and appreciating the value of the things we have:

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences.” Eleanor Roosevelt

Most people I meet think working in Las Vegas’ casinos had to have been very interesting and exciting: to me it was a great job. Working for Wynn was challenging, for sure, but it also provided lots of experiences in all of the places he sent me (Atlantic City, Las Vegas, the Gulf coast of Mississippi, Argentina, Monte Carlo and Macau): each had their own special challenges and opportunities.  I got to live life and experience all those different and rich experiences.  It was never dull and it always presented chances to get involved in a never-ending array of circumstances with a continually expanding group of great people.  Your work can be just as thrilling and rewarding: learn all you can, go wherever you can, volunteer for everything you can, and get engaged in all that you can.  Don’t be afraid to participate in things that are new: that’s how to make your job all it can be today.

Stay well.