Vegas -For The Mind
just got back from five days in Las Vegas last week. Going down
there I thought for sure that my trip would inspire an interesting
piece for Hacks. I even had the opening paragraph ready to go before
I left, some schlock about how living in Vancouver is like living
in Paradise and the only option for a vacation from Paradise is
a trip to Sin City.
here is that just one year ago I went to Las Vegas with the exact same
plan, and while Ive returned refreshed and relaxed on both occasions
Ive also returned with nothing to write about on both occasions.
Yes, I had a great time, saw some good shows, gambled and smoked and
drank and stuffed g-strings, left behind a sizeable chunk of cash, and
when I can afford to do it all over again Ill head back down as
Ive done many times before. But short of writing some lame trip
report or reviewing O, Cirque du Soleils water show, I came back
from my vacation with nothing to really write about. Nothing of substance
Its taken me a week to figure out thats okay. Actually its
taken me closer to 53 weeks, because last year I was so dismayed by
that lack of voice that I didnt write much of anything for several
months. You see, a lot of what I write tends to wax philosophic about
life. I observe myself and the world around me and my place therein,
and then I reflect and I ponder and I contemplate, and then I dump it
all out onto my keyboard and e-mail the results to Sam North, who keeps
finding them worthy of posting here for some reason.
Now, except for the typing and e-mailing part thats pretty much
how my life works most of the time; observation followed by lots and
lots of thinking. An example? After reading a few books over the summer
on some seemingly unrelated topics, I spent I dont know how many
hours earlier this month trying to construct a hyper-tetrad that would
allow me to reconcile neuro-memetics with classical Dawkinsian memetics.
Im not going to try to explain what any of that means because
none of its at all important, and Im not trying to impress
anyone with my prodigious intellect because it isnt that prodigious
and it shouldnt impress anybody anyway. I was burning up time
and energy on a pointless mental task and I cant begin to tell
you, or really understand myself, why it tied up such a big chunk of
my waking life. It was a mildly intriguing and ultimately pointless
mental exercise, nothing more, but I could not let it go. My brain just
doesnt let me shut it off very often. I dont sleep particularly
that I slept like a baby most of the time I was on holiday. I managed
to turn my brain off and largely keep it turned off, or at least
keep it in neutral, for several days in a row. Thats why I
didnt have anything to write about when I got back. It isnt
as though I drank myself to the point of blacking out or anything:
I remember the whole trip, I just wasnt thinking about it.
And I cant begin to tell you how relaxing that was. It was
the kind of experience that helps me understand why some people
spend their lives that way, why they use various chemicals to obliviate
their consiousness, why they spend all of their nights and weekends
sitting in front of a glowing cathode ray tube, why they just turn
themselves off altogether. Its a siren song, and the fact
that it can lead to disaster does nothing to make it any less enticing.
But as tempting as it can be to just chuck it all, Im back
home now and the thing between my ears is up and running again.
Just because I stopped for a few days doesnt mean that the
world even bothered to slow down. Theres politics and natural
disasters and mans inhumanity to man and new scientific discoveries
to get caught up on. Ive got a life to get on with, an acting
career to advance and a bunch of stuff to get out of my head to
make room for the new stuff thats already percolating.
a good vacation, a temporary escape from the noises of the real world
and the noises of my waking life. I indulged myself for the better part
of a week, let the mid-and hind brains take over from the frontal cortex
for a bit. I came back from it rested and energized, with some pleasant
memories, a couple of good anecdotes to tell my friends whove
never been to Vegas, and nothing of any significance or importance.
But theres nothing wrong with that with shutting it all
down for a few days when the result is that I return ready to
start it all up again and better able to keep it running smoothly for
a while longer. Its not that I recharged my mental batteries so
much as I allowed my mental septic tanks to drain. And now that my vacations
over and my brains racing along again Im ready to push through
another chunk of life. Until the next time I need a couple of days to
decompress the inside of my skull, when Ill head off somewhere
to do and to think about nothing for a spell. Its not the kind
of lifestyle Id choose, its not a path Id allow myself
to follow, but it sure makes for a nice few days every once in a while.
James Haslett November 2003
Angry Young Man Syndrome
The Big Lie
What's Mine is Yours
I hate Christmas
all rights reserved