This year plodded by like a horrible movie you rent and then feel compelled to watch because you dropped $3 on it. Each passing month seemed more laborious than the one before. Poker had gone poorly and the other superficial parts of my life had not gone much better. Had it not been for the love of my family and friends, it would've been the kind of year that would make a guy pretty damned depressed. The fourth quarter of the year had proven to be worse than the rest of the year and I had pretty much decided to put 2006 to bed. That is, I was not going to go to Las Vegas.
And then I did.
I only told a couple of people I was going to go. At first, it was because I wasn't sure whether I was actually going to be able to make it. Professional concerns had manifested themselves into something I was privately calling, "a real fucking issue." And, anyone who has ever dealt with professional concerns will tell you that that kind of issue can quickly make a guy take stock of what kind of man he really is.
After I was sure I was going to go, I still didn't tell people. I don't know why, exactly, but a lot of it had to do with the post I wrote this time last year. If you don't recall it, here's a snippet:
There are times in life when you we all reach a point at which we say, "What am I doing with my life? What am I doing to myself?" Less than one week before this moment I had turned 32. All in all, I didn't consider it a bad age, as many of my friends are approaching 40 and still rolling along well. Still, on this night, I felt old and used up. A decade earlier, a 36-hour bender would've been easy. Now, it was cause for concern. I felt terminal.
It was Friday night and I had forced myself, in an act of personal punishment, to walk once again from the MGM to the IP. There would be no cab ride for a guy who had once again treated his body like a playground and lived through an ugly, hungover day with little more to show for it than yet another Otis Got Drunk story.
Indeed, I knew there was a problem when I asked myself why I even bothered going to Vegas, playing poker, and hanging with the Bloggerati. As I walked by the Barbary Coast and shielded my eyes from the roaming cowboys' belt-buckle reflections, I didn't like myself very much. It was one of those moments where you ask yourself, "What do I contribute, anyway?" and hear nothing but piped-in Muzak in response.
Looking back, I remembered how much I disliked myself that night. I remember how sick I felt, both physically and emotionally. It was a life hangover that was positively distasteful. What's more, it had nothing to do with my favorite collection of people in the world. There are few things I enjoy more than closing down a bar with the likes of Iggy, Pauly, Al, and Daddy. That said, the acid stomach--both actual and metaphorical--had plagued me for the better part of a year. I'd looked for areas of improvement in both poker and life over the next eleven months and found none of it. I treated myself and my game badly. The World Series was a debacle. Everything else around it was just as bad.
So, I went to Las Vegas with no other plan than to like myself more when I got back on the plane to come home.
And guess what? I do.
I won't go into the specifics, because it was more a personal journey of raging solo than a reason to pontificate here. Although rather unplanned (and unfortunate), it resulted in me spending far less time than I would've liked with some of my favorite people in the world.
In the end, though, it worked out for the best. If there is any one word that sums up what I've lacked in the last few years, it is this: discipline. I've failed to find the discipline to better myself and better my game. This past weekend was a test to determine whether, with a little bit of effort, I can make myself any better. Apparently, it's possible...if I want to.
Thanks to all of you who were there with a hug and a smile this weekend. You folks are the reason I still write here. And, truth be told, you're the reason I'll always try to maintain my perfect record for showing up at the greatest cat-herding event in the world.