Playing Cowboy Days 31-34: Reflections from Vegas
August 20, 2021
It doesn't feel good here in Vegas.  Not just the gross feeling of stepping into a pressure cooker when I got off the airplane at 6pm Left Coast time yesterday.  I haven't put my finger on it yet, but I just don't feel right here.  I went to sleep with this feeling (before midnight) and woke up (around 8am) still holding on to it thirty minutes later as I sip coffee and try to pen out these thoughts.  

I realized a few years ago that my happiest years came before all this poker stuff, in the days when I was always almost broke.  It certainly sucked being broke broke; I can remember as recently as 2003 digging through the seats in my 1988 Jeep Cherokee to find change so I could afford a meal.  I don't want to be back in that spot anytime, like, ever in my future, but I was happier that year than I was in 2007.  That also doesn't mean that I was unhappy then, or am unhappy now, I was just more happy in the days before the grind.

It's odd too looking back on those 2003-2005 years.  I've regretted often about not having a better work ethic and drive to succeed back then, knowing now the marshmallow meadow that I found myself smack dab in the middle of.  100-200 limit hold'em games were playing then like the 5-10 games do now.  I could have been rich with a little bit of drive, but instead I was content to four table 2-4 LHE, make an easy $100 a day in a couple of hours, and then go do something outside for the rest of the day.  

But then again if I was rich, I also probably wouldn't have much of the life experience that I am rich in.  I have seen many kids come and go in the past five years in the poker world.  Most of them haven't made it.  Many of the ones that have wish that they hadn't.  Poker inevitably becomes a grind, for just about everybody I can think of besides Basebaldy who has like nine losing sessions lifetime.  When things become that grind, when no matter what you do you can't win, work sucks.  It's not fun.  And eventually we play worse, making the run bad worse, and making us unhappier.  There has to be something to balance out work, no matter if you're a professional poker player or a poop smith.  Many a porta-potty managers have played poker for pleasure.  And I tell you what I sure don't mind shoveling shit at the ranch.  

The point is, if all you do is work, what's the point?  I haven't found a job in the world that isn't work at one time or another.  Whitewater rafting guides still have to throw boats, be at the boathouse early in the morning, and cook lots.  Youth ministers don't spend much time working with kids, but do spend a lot of time dealing with bullshit in the church office.  Poker players (especially tournament pros) don't spend much time in the spotlight, but do spend a lot of time working on their game to stay on top, and sometimes being on top of your game yields zero time actually on top.  There are few jobs in the world that people actually love, and even in those that people love there are still bad days.  If there isn't something else going on in life that makes us happy, then we're eventually going to end up unhappy.  

For the past month I've saturated myself in the goodness of being somewhere I love doing something I enjoy, the two fundamental keys to happiness.  If I'm not somewhere I love, why?  Only I control the two legs I'm standing on.  If I'm not doing something I love, why?  Does it enable me to get out and do what I love?  Am I actually getting out and doing what I love? 

There's no way our lives are all about working our asses off until we have enough money to quit and do nothing.  We're mammals, and the only ones on the planet that have complicated life beyond eating, sleeping, and mating.  The reason I work is to help me do those three things with ease and have the freedom to enjoy life as it was intended, without schedules other than sleeping and seasons.  

I find that when I'm enjoying my life I run better.  It doesn't make any sense to me at all, because fluctuation is random, but I've almost always run poorly in the winters and awesome in the spring and fall.  When in a new and exciting relationship, winner.  On the opposite end, loser.  My PTR graph is an excellent example of that one in the past year.  Things good in the fall, fall apart in January, finish end of April, knee goes pop, a month is taken off, and suddenly it's raining dollars.  

Last year, coming back from the motorcycle trip, I was excited to be home.  I was looking forward to moving in with Shelley.  I had confirmed that I love living in Las Vegas and couldn't see myself anywhere else except Colorado, as much as Court would like to get me out to North Carolina.  I knew that Colorado would have to remain a vacation destination for the foreseeable future and that I belonged in Vegas.  Now, showing up in Vegas for less than 24 hours, I do not feel right here.  

I'd much rather be back in Colorado doing what I was doing Sunday.  Hunting rattlesnakes, shooting beer cans, and exploring old mines, wondering if that dynamite box inside that barrel had dynamite in it.  I would rather be spending my day like Saturday, riding in the morning, hanging at the jump rocks on the river that afternoon, watching live music in Salida as the sun set, and being in bed before midnight at the ranch. 

I definitely see myself being back here and stoked in a month from now, but not yet.  Not when it's 95 degrees at 9:37am.  Not when I have a return flight to Colorado in three days.  Know why I'm most excited to be back in Vegas?  To work.  To write this.  To host a UBOC event tomorrow, make a video on it, and to audition in LA on Thursday.  

The greatest journeys answer questions at the end that you didn't know you had in the beginning.  I'm still figuring out the questions and I'm okay with that.  

Peace and good luck,


3 months ago
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