I am a big fan of holidays. Religious, social, federal, or manufactured, I believe in celebrating absolutely everything. Why save the word ‘Happy’ for birthdays and new yearseseseses? I’ll toss out a Happy Tuesday or a Happy Car Payment Day way more often than those other, more rare, annual celebrations.
Imagine the joy that I must have felt when something as massive as Earth Day came around. This is an annual event that I always take note of because it celebrates the biosphere I live in and, by extension, me. Any holiday that celebrates me, is of even greater importance than a mere President’s Day or National Tater-Tot Month.
On this Earth Day, I found myself in Miami. The tropics were in an uproar because they are the tropics and they’re easily provoked. Rain and gusty thunderstorms raged sporadically all weekend long but did not dampen our festive mood.
We are lucky to have multiple branches of our family tree in and around South Florida. It is a fun place to visit, especially if you have some locals to show you around and keep you safe. On this trip, the kids and Shannon got to visit with our sister/aunt and niece/cousin while I got to visit my close friends in Miami’s many poker rooms. While the rest of the family was relaxing at a book store and catching up on family news, I was being handed stacks of chips that paid for the trip and the car payment for this month. Does that sound like bragging? It was meant too. Maybe I should be more direct. I rock.
When my mind starts churning it can be as much of a tempest as last weekend’s tropical temper tantrum. Over the years I’ve tried to calm the thunderous brainstorm with meditation, medication, breathing exercises, and beer. However, poker is the game that allows me to take all of my real and imagined stresses and remove them from my consciousness. It is the mute button for my incessant inner 4 year old. When playing in a poker tournament with more than 100 other people, I find myself as focused and content as people say they are during yoga. Several different types of math calculations, quality play acting, mind reading, and extremely acute observations take up all of my brain’s operational capacity, and that’s one place that I find my mental bliss.
If you are under the mistaken impression that poker is gambling, I urge you to buy my upcoming book, No, Poker ISN’T Gambling for Crying Out Loud and I Will Tell You Why In This Awesome Book You Are Holding, due out sometime in the future, mere months after a publisher sends me a big fat advance check.
Poker is the only casino game, cards or otherwise, that isn’t built with odds that favor the house. Casinos dislike poker, because while it is profitable for them to host the game, it isn’t as wildly profitable as the guaranteed money from roulette, craps, slot machines, and valet parking. Poker players manage risk and make investments based on incomplete information exactly like the stock market, real estate and the movie industry (from the amazing upcoming book, see Chapter 14: Managing Risk and Making Investments Based on Incomplete Information, Exactly Like the Stock Market, Real Estate, and Movie Industry).
Poker players were once a notoriously unhealthy group of people. Bad food, multiple forms of nicotine, alcohol, and endless hours of Jabba-the-Hutt-style slovenly reclining were just a few of the benefits of playing poker before 2004. Since I am a product of the poker boom, I was schooled in the belief that every edge you can give yourself in poker equals profit. Many of the old top-tier players began changing the way they live because a healthy, rested, active body creates a sharper mind. Marathon runners can sit for longer periods of time during tournaments without suffering mental fatigue. With tournaments paying out millions of dollars, the edge of having a healthy mind is worth the exercise and proper diet choices that are required.
Since giving up meat and dairy, I have been playing very well. I can say that with regard to profit and quality of play. Now, I remain sharper for a longer period of time without slipping into tournament-killing absentmindedness. If you will allow me to use stacks of poker chips to gauge an increase in mental acuity, I can say that vegan living and plant based dieting have changed the way I feel, the way I think, and even the way I tackle my favorite puzzle.
During the many Earth Days in my past I made it a point to pick up garbage on the side of the road or plant a tree or pay some little token of apology to Earth for doing more than my fair share of damage to the limited biosphere we have. However, this year is different because there is no guilt! I can look Earth square in the face (which I imagine to be around Indiana) and say “You’re Welcome!” Giving up animal-based foods and products is the single best thing you can do to reduce your carbon footprint.
So this is how I came to find myself on Earth Day, using gas to drive home on I-95 with a mini-van full of people rather than wading through a retention pond picking up plastic bottles and leeches. After a weekend of sitting on my butt in an air-conditioned building with a carbon footprint big enough to be seen from space, I am still WAY ahead of the game.