I’m finding it somewhat ironic that I’ve travelled through two of the last places on Earth I’d ever consider experiencing in just the last two weeks. As I write here today, I’m on my way home from sin city…Las Vegas.
While my purpose for being in Vegas was a great one – that is supporting my friend Matt Johnston (http://www.divingadream.org/), the world’s first ventilator dependent scuba diver – as we presented his inspirational and pioneering story at the AARC (American Academy of Respiratory Care) International Congress; the Vegas experience proved to be an education in the ‘odds’.
On the flight over, a middle-aged couple leaned over to me and asked rather enthusiastically, “Are you going to Vegas to get rich?”. I somewhat sarcastically replied “uh, not quite”. As we exited the plane, this couple sprinted to the slot machines in the terminal and started pumping what was likely the last of their destitute existence into the black hole disguised by flashing lights with the hope of exchanging their nickels for hundred dollar bills. It was both sad, and ‘odd’.
Another thing I found rather odd in Vegas was that to even sit down at a nightclub often required spending $500 on a $20 bottle of alcohol. And yet another oddity was the fact that clearly billions upon billions of dollars (Americans’ hard earned $ voluntarily donated to this city mind you) had been invested here into creating the most impressive and luxurious infrastructure that exists in this country. Odd, odd, odd.
I’m not sure exactly when the American Dream became hitting it big in Vegas, but after a few short days here, this is clearly the case. Rather than working hard to realize the long term win, we’ve somehow decided to take a gamble, investing in meaningless and mindless entertainment, but with great hope of a better tomorrow. I tell ya – whoever is behind this perhaps greatest scheme in history ought to be teaching a few things to our leaders…there ain’t no budget shortfalls here, and this is a system where the public seemingly wants to contribute their hard earned money rather than arrive at the next great tax evasion scheme.
So, as I make my way back to the real world, I am treating this trip as an educational one, and as a reminder that we take a gamble with every corner turned to some extent. And as we take steps to advance our species and civilization in all aspects of life, we ahould almost certainly be considering the ‘odds’.