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Lost Vegas

by Thomas Durbin about a year ago in self help
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Alone in a Crowd

Ah, Las Vegas. Another city that never sleeps.

The entertainment capital of the world.

What happens in Vegas, stays here.

But, what does really happen in Vegas? To me, having been in Las Vegas 6 times during vacations and now having lived here for most of 3 weeks after making the trek from central Illinois (along Route 66 most of the way, but I'll save those kicks for another story), it seems that the answer varies and, I believe, is highly dependent on the personality and inherent traits of each individual.

Alone in a crowd. Story of my life. Can you relate?

I believe life is a process of continuous growth. Physically, most folks are considered mature and have reached full height by age twenty. Emotionally and regarding matters of the brain, new research shows that people are still maturing until approximately age 25. Looking back, I believe these findings to be accurate in my case and for many around me. We may need to redefine the term late bloomer. In addition to biological maturity, growth includes education and self-realization. These can be and should be continuous throughout life. Looking back on 53 years, I now recognize the immense magnitude of these pursuits as important parts of the advancement of life. This relates to each individual as well as the society in which we exist and the changes made to that society by our experiences collectively.

Alone in a crowd. Being allowed entrance but not fitting in. Blending in but feeling uncomfortable amid the horde. That's where I am nearly everywhere I go. Some days, the social shock is palpable. Some places, I feel so uncomfortable that I have to leave and never want to return. It can feel as though something is pushing me out or pulling me away for some bona fide reason. Specifically, I felt that way every time I was compelled to step inside a religious structure during a part of my life I try to not dwell upon. During those years, the feeling grew in strength every time regardless of the nature of the event, a youth activity meeting renting the facility, attending a service, a community social hour, a wedding, or a funeral. Every time. The unease was exacerbated by the fact that as a professional in science and engineering, I have spent a huge part of my life studying science and how things happen, how machines are created and function, and how living things evolved and play parts in the natural ecosystem. Evolved. Nature. Chaos. Chance. Free Will. There are no indications in the realm of proven science and engineering of the existence of any supernatural being or beings that either created or control life, Earth, or anything of the sort in our solar system. Therefore, why is society still heavily dependent on myth and reluctant to embrace fact and proof and function? Why is society devolving and fragmenting rather than transcending and progressing?

Alone in a crowd. Every day. Intellectually. Physically.

When will the rest of society evolve and reach this new plane? When you feel like the only one who has transcended ancient myths and superstitions it is easy to lose hope for both the planet and for future generations.

I have found that there is a better way to live and it is not impossible to shed the restraints that hold society back and prevent it from becoming a content, sustainable, technologically advanced society on a healthy planet. Observing how people live, however, leaves me feeling alone in a crowd on every level, locally, globally, emotionally, transcendentally and without true hope for the next few generations.

During my first few weeks of living in Las Vegas, I have been through the entire series of feelings regarding loneliness, social shock, and isolation. Standing along a world-famous street listening to live music is a combination of experiences for one like me. The excitement of the scene when a favorite song begins is undeniable. Freedom. Movement. Expression. Escape. This lasts the length of a verse, sometimes two, then fades as the realization that I'm standing there totally alone again takes the reigns. No emotional connection to anyone around me. No physical interaction with a dance partner or a hand to hold. No exchanged glances or smiles. The last song of the set ends. People disperse. I look around. No plan in mind. I wander along the street and deal with the realization that I am going home alone...again. Sharing photos on social media gets a few reactions and comments about how I must have had a great time. I don't respond. No one wants to see behind the false front. There's no point in revealing the lonely walk back to an empty room or the revisionist thoughts during a solitary drive home that try to convince me that somehow next time I won't be going home alone. I remind myself to accept me as an individual far outside mainstream constraints and that's a great thing. Mostly, I believe it and, mostly, I believe in the vision that uniquely defines me.

Alone in a crowd. Is it inevitable?

self help

About the author

Thomas Durbin

Raised in rural east-central Illinois, I appreciate nature and the environment. I'm a father, grandfather, professional engineer, leader, researcher, coach, scouts leader, stoic, minimalist, costumer, historian, traveler, and writer.

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