Viva Las Vegas

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It’s nearly September, and the weather has become decidedly less sweltering.  Labor Day is in sight, and with it the celebration of the end of my Summer of Yes (Not there yet- trip to the Botanical Garden planned for tomorrow!).

One of the landmark events of this summer happened last week- a 6 day trip to Las Vegas with three girlfriends.  I spent the better part of a year in Vegas in 2009, as a singer in a show on the Strip.  My time there was mostly work and little play, and ever since I have wanted to return as merely a tourist, instead of an employee who drove toward the glitter and glitz just to go to work.

Upon arrival at our oh-so-fancy hotel (we only stayed there for one night, then moved to something more affordable), I felt transformed.  Not only was I on vacation, here to treat myself and have a good time, but I was dumped into the lap (well, the lobby) of luxury.  My life in New York is definitely under economic constraint (pursuing artistic ambitions and helping others learn to free their minds doesn’t often pay the big bucks), but in Vegas, I could wander from beautiful hotel to beautiful hotel, drinking in the plushness, the expansiveness, the central air.

I realized just how much the place is a paradise for the senses.  The visuals of the Strip are stunning, the hotels are beautifully crafted works of architecture and art, showcases of splendor, color, and light.  Bars are gorgeous, restaurants are fabulous, atria and fountains and secret waterfalls abound.  Food and drink become feast, and even the buffets are more upscale than anywhere I usually dine.  The shows are- there is no other word for it- absolutely stunning.

We DID Vegas.  We ate, drank, danced, swam, sunned, slept (very little), walked, toured, and soaked it all in like sponges.  We had an amazing, fantastic, wonderful time.  Even getting ready for an evening in our hotel room, the conversation stayed light, silly, and fun.  All our problems were banished from the dark spaces of our minds by the glow of neon lights.

And then we left.  Monday morning we packed up our suitcases, waved goodbye to our poolside view, and began the long journey home.  There was this huge sense of letdown, as if I had literally been receiving endorphin hits for the last week, and was in withdrawal.  The slot machines at the airport didn’t do much for me at all, and slowly, as if my brain had fallen asleep just as my foot might, I began to think again.

And this is what I realized.  Not once in Vegas, not once, did a lobby display, an exhibition piece or an artful meal presentation make me think.  I never felt concerned about the amount of food going to waste, or the energy spent on lighting a hotel face, or even the lives ruined by those in the casinos who just can’t stop.  The place is designed for you to think less and feel more, and in its laboratory, I was a completely successful specimen.  That kind of power is incredible.

I felt ultimately physical, in my body, made of flesh and blood in Las Vegas.  I leaned in, pressed in, to the sensuality of that ultimate Sin City word “pleasure.”  And I understood why, when for example, we go through a break up, we turn outside.  The more we can party, go out, have fun, the more we really can forget our problems.  Outside noise can be so loud that we become deaf to our own thoughts.

But eventually, they always turn off the lights.  And in the darkness of your mind, when the music stops and everyone has gone home- this is why we cultivate from the inside out.  The party always ends, and the outside noise goes away.  What you are left with is yourself, in the quiet, in the stillness.  If we can learn to manage that space, we need not fear the darkness.

But damn, it sure was a good time.  :)

Be well.