It’s been a long time. What are you doing here?
…No, you can’t stay. I thought I made that clear the last time. I told you that I was done with this, done with you.
…Listen, I’ve found someone else, alright? Someone better than you. Someone better for me in every single way. He is good to me.
…I don’t care! I don’t care. Look, I know we have that history. You were part of helping me make sense of things. When I was feeling so horrible about myself, you helped me to understand why. You put together the whole story for me.
Except that it wasn’t true. None of it was true, and I was a fool to believe it from the start. You lied to me, and you had me lie to myself. You had me believe that I was worthless, that I was useless, that I had no right to desire acceptance, love, or compassion.
But his story is better. His story is good. His story is true. He has given me fine clothes, finer than what you had given me all my life. With him, I can fully live.
So listen, I don’t want to see you come around here again, alright? I’m with someone else now, and I won’t be letting him go. He won’t let me go.
It’s said that we carry emotion in our bodies. Strong emotions may manifest in acute physical ways, and often in the same location. For some, they may feel rage burning in their bellies. Others may feel fear in their necks, still others might have their ears burn with embarrassment.
I carry sadness behind my eyes. Whenever I feel sad, I can feel this strong pressure in my head, right behind my eye sockets, as if something is pushing to get out.
I think of it this way: Behind my eyes there is a great ocean of tears. All of the strong emotions that I had refused to feel for so many years are locked in there. All the times that I have felt abandoned, misunderstood, alone…all have reaped sorrow and tears that I restrained myself from feeling. A restrained heart is an untouchable heart, and an untouchable heart is an unbreakable heart. The sorrows went unbidden and unacknowledged, yet the tears continued to gather and swell. Building, turbulent, controlled.
Then the storm comes, the wall breaks, and it pours. Oh, how it pours.
Then it stops, I get back up, and things go back to normal. For a while.
That, at least, is what used to happen.
The Vegas trip was undoubtedly fun. It was my friend’s first time there. We went hiking in Red Rock Canyon, we toured the casinos (where his friend explained how to play craps), went to clubs, and hung out by the pool. I had a great time hanging out with the guys there.
The flight back was uneventful, and I was at the Macarthur BART station, waiting to transfer for the line home. I was musing over all the things that I had seen in Vegas: the desire, the ambition, the despair.
As I looked over Oakland, I thought to myself, “All those impulses I saw in Vegas are here too. The emotions, the hopes and fears, all of it. It’s just hidden from view.”
Las Vegas struck me as a place where the great drama of human experience becomes immediately visible. People go to Vegas to experience life, not to live it. Although I have been to other tourist destinations before, in Vegas tourism is the lifeblood of the city. People come to enjoy themselves, and in so doing, reveal their hearts.
I didn’t see too many churches in Las Vegas, although I’m sure they exist. I wonder what it’s like to minister in a city like that.
I was in Las Vegas last month for a bachelor party. It’s been a while since I’ve been there, and it was my first time with friends instead of parents. I’m not much of a gambler, so I wasn’t really expecting that to be a draw. Honestly, I just went for the people.
It was a philosophically invigorating trip.
The sheer scale of the casinos are amazing, with such grandeur, such incredible attention to detail. Caesar’s Palace, Mandalay Bay, Aria…they are all so opulent, so rich. The grand windows, the ornate carpets, the beautiful ceilings…
…and beneath all that? Portly retirees and foreign tourists fritter money away on colorful spinning dials and bad cigarettes.
You step out into the night air. The casinos tower above. Luxor with its spire of pristine white light. Paris, in its decadence and self-indulgent whimsy. The elegant Fountains at the Bellagio…
…then you go out into the street, and sullen people in neon shirts try to pawn off cards with pictures of naked women. They litter the sidewalk like so much wet-dream confetti (the cards, not the people in the shirts).
Las Vegas embodies so many aspects of the human condition. Ambition and inspiration in the exquisite structures. Avarice and cunning to fund it. Hope that draws gamblers for that one chance, and despair when all is lost. Spend even just a day in Las Vegas, and you will encounter the whole spectrum of human emotion.
I’ve been reading a book called The Happy Lawyer (in preparation for going to law school), and it’s really fascinating. I can write about some of my insights from the book, but it constantly brings up one simple question: “Are you happy?”
A simple question, but yet marvelously complex.
One contributor to happiness is sleep, which I’m about to partake in now. Good night!
Addendum: I just spent a moment pondering over whether it is “preparation for” or “preparation of.” Decided on “preparation for.” It sounds right, but not sure why. Hm. Well, a mystery for another day. Good night!
Second addendum: “Preparation for” is a prelude to an action (“going to law school.”) “Preparation of” takes place before a state of being (“law school” or more exactly “becoming a law school student.”) Sounds about right. Ok, good night!