Today actually began as the end of last night. My international home poker game
, which should probably now just be called my home game, was on, off, then on again. Although I made it be known that I did not plan on playing poker into the 4:00 a.m. hour, the night was so much fun that it lasted just a couple of hours short of that. I drove home with a happy face and a wallet a tad heavier than when I began the night. The happy night ended, however, when a couple of bizarre dreams left me wondering why I was taking an unconventional path through all kinds of brush to get to my destination, and why the woman of my dreams while I was in high school suddenly became relevant to me again.
As was the case on the Sunday mornings when I do not head off to church shortly after waking, I powered up my laptop, checked e-mail and sports news, and excitedly scanned some links to see which poker blogger created a new post.
wrote a great post, wistfully looking back at the Las Vegas of old. My brother and I, while on the plane during our last trip to Las Vegas, made a lengthy list of all the Vegas hotels in which we stayed. We also created a list of hotel we stayed at that no longer exist. It is always fun to think about out early Las Vegas trips, staying at places like Westward Ho, the Circus Circus manor, Hacienda, ...
Ken also alluded to something that had passed right by me -- the apparent end, at least for now, to the gold standard of poker blogs, Dr Pauly's Tao of Poker
. Normally I would be all caught up with the good doctor's latest posts, but he had not posted much in some time, as is the theme with many of my old poker friends.
Dr Pauly and I are as different as night and day. While Pauly jetted around the world in a drug and alcohol induced haze, covering poker news and life with a style that was always fascinating reading, I led this conventional lifestyle -- sober, full of responsibility, putting out boring posts that really served more as a journal for my older years than creating some sort of lasting tribute to creativity and excellence. Reading Tao of Poker was like visiting some exotic land that maybe existed, maybe didn't, but was certainly far from the reaches of a central Illinois professional educator.
However, one thing that always struck me about Pauly and his writings was his search for meaning in life and his, in my opinion, pessimistic view of a life that is filled with hypocrisy, greed, and corruption. I guess that living a life steeped in professional poker will do that to you. His most recent -- and perhaps his last -- post, states the following in his online Letter to Ndugu: "I hope you can learn from my mistakes and actually do something constructive and meaningful with your life. Don't be a selfish tosser like myself. Live a life of integrity. Try to make a positive impact in this world."
Something I have thought about more and more as I get older and creep toward a day when I will not be working the daily grind I have for the past thirty years, is what kind of mark I have left in this world? I won't have any great writings that will survive time's test and serve as inspiration for others. I won't have the satisfaction of having constructed any great buildings or structures that will astound and assist people. However, what I will have is the satisfaction of knowing that I spent a tremendous amount of my time helping people improve their lot in life: getting an education, coping with life's difficulties, creating a better world for themselves, their family, and their community. I see the world as a positive place, full of opportunity, full of good things. I hope that my outlook and my work has had a lasting effect on building our greatest resource: people.
The sun is shining. The day seems anew. Time to resume living.