Monday, February 26, 2007

One Year Ago Today

One year ago today, at probably this minute, I was rolling through Tucson AZ in my $10 minivan finishing the last leg of my 2650 mile three-day cross country journey. Day One was 850 miles and 12 hours from Delray Beach, FL to Baton Rouge LA. Day Two was the monster 1050 miles and 15 hours from Baton Rouge to Las Cruces NM. Quite a way to spend the weekend. Today was the last portion, Las Cruces to Vegas including two unbelieveably beautiful hours spent on US 93 between Wickenburg and Kingman.

I had sold my house, nearly all of my possessions and my half of a business in Florida, finalized a divorce and was starting a new adventure in my life. I left basically everyone and everything I knew to take a chance if you will on a cross country move to a place I'd been to twice that had a reputation of chewing up and spiting out event the saviest individuals yet offered the thrills and potential fortunes of no other place on the planet.

My circle at the time thought I was fucking crazy to give up my decent live in Florida, a place I loved and thought I would never leave, to go to such an evil place as Las Vegas. Ironically most of that advice helped me to decide to make the move.

Why? I found these people, like 90% of everyone I'd ever met, were not risk takers, they were too conservative on both a social and professional level, they were trapped in a sort of "I tell myself I'm happy but life is just a duldrum of routine." They were too worried about what other people thought forcing them to live and work and censor their thoughts towards others expectations. They were also afraid of the unknown and lacked a true passion towards anything.

I've just never been the 9-5 get married have 2.5 children buy a house with a white picket fence kind of guy. If others are so be it. But really I do question if not sometimes they are living a dream from the 40s and 50s that was passed on to them as children instead of finding something outside the norm that would be there true passion of being.

I grew up in St. Louis but as an adult have lived in Worcester MA, Minneapolis, MN, Secuacus, NJ, Delray Beach, FL and now Vegas for a variety of reasons. At 29 I gave up a decent career and moved to Minneapolis. At 31 I gave up a decent life and moved to Florida to wait tables, play golf and lie on the beach. Now at 40 I was doing again, giving up a decent life and career to start a new chapter in my life.

No I'm not a restless spirit but there came a point in my life that I never wanted to say what if. It had happened too often and my insecurities and fears were the reasons. That and I was always trying to fit in or live up to others expectations instead of being my own man with my own thoughts, and ideas, and desires.

Perhaps helping that cause were some life experiences; battling heroin addiction for much of the late 80s and early 90s, having my best friend die in my arms from said addiction, being diagnosed with and surviving cancer in 1999. I don't think life is too short that we have to do everything we possibly can but I do know that life is not worth living if you are going to be unhappy or not yourself.

I came to Vegas to start the exact same business I had in Florida. Once I got to Vegas I realized I didn't want to start that business. Eventually I decided to try and make a living playing poker and betting on sports. Again most people that I was crazy. My sports betting history was average at best and though I was a recreational poker player on and off for years my first ever live cash game was last March playing 1-3 NL at the Excaliber.

I have a little cushion from selling my business but its certainly not enough to consider myself retired. I will have to succeed in the poker/sports gaming world or at some point I'll will have to find a way to make a living. I hope it never comes to that but in life there are no guarantees, it can all be gone tomorrow you just never know.

I do know I wake up with a smile on my face every single day of the year. I do know the sunshines hear about 350 days a year. I do know that if online poker becomes dried up I can drive 12 minutes and find 40 games at least. I do know in those same 12 minutes I can be at a sports book watching any sporting event thats on a TV. I also know that if these things no longer appeal to me I can find many other things that do because I have the freedom from living in this great country to find my own happiness.

I'm my own man, I'm confortable with who I am and what I am. I don't have to lie or embellish or be ashamed or worry about being judged. I'm true to myself and I sleep like a baby every night. I might not have all I want at this point but I consider myself to be extremely fortunate to have the realization and self awareness to be who I want to be.

I can only wish others are as happy as me. What I would say if asked is to live life and be yourself. Find out what makes you happy and do it. Stop living life trying to conform yourself into what you think others want you do be. Learn to communicate, which includes listening, and be honest to a fault. Set goals and work for them. Play above your bankroll on occasion. Get outside your comfort zone often so you can grow as person. Smile more. Complain less. Lose the sarcasm and cynicism. Be someone that is dependable and can be relied on but also learn to say no. Take a risk. Try something new. Drive home a different way. And hopefully go to bed every night and wake up every day happy.

I can remember the feeling I had one year ago today. The anticipation, the excitement, the freedom, it was true happiness. As I finish this today I have the exact same feelings. I have a huge smile on my face, my life is wonderful and I wouldn't trade it right now for anything. If my aces get cracked today oh well. I can only wish you all are, in your own ways, as happy as I am.

37 Comments:

At 4:50 PM, Blogger Dr. Pauly said...

Congrats on (survivng) one year in Las Vegas. I'm glad we crossed paths at some point along the way in life. Best of luck to you in the future, MD!

 
At 4:51 PM, Blogger BrainMc said...

Nice job man. Great attitude and you carry it well. I couldn't help but have Johnny Cash singing "I've Been Everywhere" in the back of my head while reading this.

I wish you continued success with your future years in Vegas and may get to meet you this summer.

 
At 5:18 PM, Blogger pokerpeaker said...

What a cool post. I can't believe you were once addicted to herion and survived to tell about it. I'm very, very impressed you battled your demons and beat them. So many don't. Congrats on your life - it's not the life I would want to lead, as I'm thrilled with my kids and my wife, but in some ways I"m envious.
Congrats.

 
At 5:27 PM, Blogger Drizztdj said...

Take a bow Don.

See you in about a month, I'm sure the smile will be even wider while you're taking my chips and we're cashing in our Final Four betting slips :)

 
At 5:36 PM, Blogger lucko said...

Evil post.

 
At 8:13 PM, Blogger Irongirl01 said...

Congrats on the 1 yr anniversary on your move to Vegas.

Your post brought some joyful tears to my eyes. I dont go to meetings anymore, been clean and sober 17+ yrs but never take my sobriety for granted. After a rough month it made me grateful to know that the promises they talk about are true. Your post reminded me of them. We sometimes just lose sight of them when things dont go our way...
To thine own self be true.
I think you have discovered how to be true to yourself. That is a gift, not many people achieve. And I wish I could share your post with someone who is near and dear to me but they are not ready. They dont know how to listen to their inner voice and thats just a shame.

Peace MD

 
At 8:14 PM, Blogger cracknaces said...

Excellent post, maybe the post of the year?

 
At 8:50 PM, Blogger CarmenSinCity said...

Wow - I love this post - it brings back such memories and gives me a glimmer of excitment too.

 
At 8:58 PM, Blogger SirFWALGMan said...

Great post i was waiting for the hot van sex on the drive part but you cant have everything.. gives everyone something to shoot for..

 
At 9:02 PM, Blogger jjok said...

hoist of glass.

To you, my friend.....

 
At 11:09 PM, Blogger Iakaris aka I.A.K. said...

Getting to know you Don has been awesome. I consider you a true friend and this post sums everything I like about you - a bold spirit and a centered attitude.

Congrats on a year on your own program...look forward to a table in Vegas in the near future.

 
At 9:41 AM, Blogger Otis said...

Thanks for that one, Don.

 
At 10:14 AM, Blogger StB said...

I don't envy people with posessions, money, or other trivial things. I envy those that realize what matters to them, whether it be big or small, and can truly appreciate life.

You may have just crossed over into the the envy territory.

 
At 10:23 AM, Blogger Falstaff said...

Nice hand, sir. Being happy with yourself and the life you have made is an incredible accomplishment in today's world. I'm thrilled for you and happy to know you.

 
At 11:03 AM, Blogger Fuel55 said...

But still it is tough to imagine Don in a $10 minivan, isn't yet? the other stuff is easy, but a minivan? WTF?

 
At 11:18 AM, Blogger 23skidoo said...

Thanks for sharing Don!

Great post.

 
At 11:21 AM, Blogger TripJax said...

Best post I've ever read from you Don...

 
At 12:03 PM, Blogger smokkee said...

LOL @ Lucko

kick ass post Don.

 
At 12:08 PM, Blogger mookie99 said...

Awesome post...congrats on the 1 yr. Vegas anniversary.

I hope your success as a pro poker player continues and I'm looking forward to your visit in April.

 
At 12:46 PM, Blogger April said...

Wonderful post Don. Glad to have met you this past year and look forward to seeing you again. Congrats on the anniversary!

 
At 2:54 PM, Blogger HighOnPoker said...

Truly a great post. I can't put into words how much I enjoyed reading it, and I think I've learned more about and from you in this post than all previous posts combined. Thanks for sharing.

 
At 3:29 PM, Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

What an awesome read brotha. It really evokes reminiscence in me even though I wasn't there a year ago with you. Got me thinking about my own life and the past year or two for me as well. I really can't imagine a better post than this man, in anyone's blog.

Thanks.

 
At 6:22 PM, Blogger Raveen said...

hey I'm real late on the post cause school has been kicking my ass so its been tough to keep up with the blog reading......AWESOME post though on all respects and the fact that you've come as far as you have speaks volume's in itself.

 
At 10:54 PM, Blogger Fuel55 said...

My email regarding a followup post has to be a serious serious consideration now.

 
At 11:15 AM, Blogger PokahDave said...

WOW....downright inspirational...

 
At 11:26 AM, Blogger BuddyDank said...

Thank you. I needed that.

 
At 11:56 AM, Blogger Blinders said...

Very nice post. I aspire to someday have the ballz to open up like that on my own blog. I'm prolly a few years away from that. Continue to live the dream!

 
At 12:50 PM, Blogger Darren said...

I love the hypocrisy of your post. Family-oriented people and Nine-to-Fivers are lying to themselves about being happy and have no passion, but you are so much more enlightened that you are the only one truly happy with their life.

Do you not see the egotism and self-centered nature of yourself in that statement?

I love my family; my wife, my child, I wouldn't give them up for anything in the world. But I'm not only different from you in that way. I'm also a different person from you because I realize this is not the lifestyle for everyone. And just because someone isn't living this lifestyle I do not naturally assume that they must be unhappy and passionless.

I appreciate what you were going for in your post. And I commend you on overcoming a drug addiction and making life changes at such a late stage in your life. But overcome your ego; just because someone's life path is different from yours does not mean they must lie to you to convince you that they are happy. For the most part, I bet they don't give a damn what you think about them.

 
At 2:30 PM, Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

It's funny about that last comment above. I'm a family guy and I know many others who have commented here are as well. I don't aspire to have Don's life per se, but I did not at all get out of the post what Darren apparently did. I don't hear Don saying that because I'm a family guy who isn't willing to dump all my possessions and become a professional gambler, that I can't be happy. I do however hear Don saying that that's what he wanted to do, so he did it, and I commend Don for that. And, I think Don's general advice to not be afraid to take some fucking risks and change some shit up if you're not where you want to be in life is just about the best advice anyone could get.

Way to go Don. I fuckin love this post.

 
At 2:31 PM, Blogger Wwonka said...

Wow,
I was truly touched by your
post.

Thanks for sharing,
Peace
wwonka

 
At 5:56 PM, Blogger osinsh said...

Sweet post. Even Ive just stumbled at Your blog and don't know a shit about You, this post is so heartwarming. Gonna read some more :]

 
At 11:05 AM, Blogger Craig Cunningham said...

Don--

I think the only thing better than this post are the 32 folks who have commented, who care about you in this virtual world. Here's hoping today is a great day for you.

 
At 3:20 PM, Blogger Mondogarage said...

Outstanding post, Don, and Happy Anniversary on the anniversary of you following your grapefruit. ;-)

You have chutzpah that I can only dream of. May you always have the fortitude to keep chasing your dreams, whatever they may be.

And Lucko is sooooo right. Wonder what I can get for my house these days...

 
At 10:36 AM, Blogger littleacornman said...

Great post.Made a lot of sense.Thanks.

 
At 1:07 PM, Blogger DP said...

darren nailed it.

 
At 4:00 PM, Blogger Derek McG said...

congrats on the anniversary. great post don!

 
At 10:00 AM, Blogger drewspop said...

I am commenting late as usual, but wanted to say congrats. It was great to meet you and having rode in the $10 van, I know you really are one of the best guys I have met, be it brief. You don't write this stuff for anyone but yourself and I commend you on that. Glad to hear you are happy. See you out there soon.

 

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