Friday, February 4, 2011

Planning it out

My wife and I have been to Las Vegas together a few times, which is one of our personal happiest places on Earth. We both find a lot of appeal in a lot of the same things which Vegas offers in abundance, and we talk often of getting back there soon. Of course with small child/children, that is neither easy nor likely to happen in the immediate future, but I’m sure one of these days we’ll manage. If we can get there in the summer of 2016 and place bets on the Olympic Decathlon in Rio de Janeiro I’ll be pretty stoked.

Anyway, for all the truly sinful/borderline illegal decadence which Vegas is rightfully famous for, one of the indulgences nearest and dearest to my heart as well as my wife’s is brunch. We usually stay at the Flamingo on the Strip, and that hotel offers the Paradise Garden Buffet as a brunch option on the weekends, a dining experience which is worth every penny and the blocking out of a good two hours of the late morning. If you have never had the pleasure of sitting before a plate on which a made-to-order bacon and cheese omelet, freshly carved roast beef with horseradish, and nachos with a la carte toppings share space, well, I hope somehow in this crazy universe of possibilities we live in that your paths cross somewhere down the road.

The Flamingo’s Paradise Garden Buffet for brunch is in fact so transcendent that it once sparked a conversation between me and my wife about the afterlife, given that any idealized plane of eternal existence (assuming for the sake of argument that we would be entitled to such heavenly rewards after departing the flesh of our present incarnations) would have to include that kind of spread. As the conversation continued we started reflecting on other activities and resources and generally essential elements which would constitute ultimate bliss. And then we literally could not help ourselves as we started trying to optimize the co-existence and interaction of all that beneficence. E.g., we both enjoy sleeping in but don’t particularly care for the feeling of having wasted too much of the day abed, so the timekeeping in heaven would have to be magically elastic enough to allow both lollygagging and having the entire day ahead of you. Similarly there would have to be some kind of regular alternation of amusements so that no single one would ever become monotonous. So basically what we ended up doing (and I remind you, this was while we were on vacation) was sketching out a fairly detailed and rigid schedule of events. For when we’re dead.

Having wings does make getting around to everything on your maxed-out to-do list a bit easier, right?
It’s the classic overthinker’s posture once again, of course, but even though the brunch-fueled brainstorming I’m recalling happened years ago (and thus years before I started meticulously documenting my overthinking tendencies hereabouts) I wasn’t very surprised that it ended up where it did. My wife and I met at our alma mater and that entire college had a noticeable predisposition toward the rigorously structured. Someone once wrote an editorial in the campus newspaper about how no one in the student body seemed capable of having fun unless there was a pre-existing “fun agenda” in hand before said fun was embarked upon. And I nodded knowingly at that editorial, given my previous experience with answering a question like “So what are we going to do Friday night?” with something along the lines of “Dunno, we’ll figure something out.” Which would send the dialogue right back to the starting point because most people just could not accept the terrifying formlessness of the void. (Myself included, sometimes. I prided myself on not being utterly ruled by the impulse to plan everything out, but I was somewhere on the continuum nonetheless. I never felt like I didn’t belong at my college.)

I’ve been thinking about this lately because I’ve been working out lately (only two or three times a week and only for a couple weeks, but relative to the complete lack of exercise characterizing the back half of 2010, it’s significant to me) and my mind has predictably wandered each cardio session I’ve logged. Since my wife and I semi-splurged on an elliptical for the home it’s blessedly easier to fit in a quick workout, and I’m thankful for that, but of course it’s not perfect. My elevated heartrate may only persist for the 30 minutes I’m on the machine, but the attendant sweat and funk tend to hang around a bit longer. Unless and until I take a shower, of course, but if I work out in the evening (after putting the little guy down in his crib, most oft) then a shower that late in the day seems weird. But since I’m already getting up around 5 to leave the house by 6 for work, a pre-daily-shower exercise session isn’t a tremendously appealing option.

I meandered down that trail of thought for a while and soon found myself envisioning a life where I didn’t have to work (meaning I’ve won the lottery, or possibly been involved in an accident with incredibly minor physical repercussions for me but potentially disastrous liability repercussions for a major corporation who offered me a generous cash settlement – either’s fine!) and could arrange my day however I like. Which shockingly, even now, was not something I could simply accept as a premise, but rather something I would need to carefully architect. I was actually quite pleased with what I came up with, which was a Virtue/Vice model. The first segment of each day would be pure clean living: wake up, do some meditation, work out, take a shower, eat a healthy breakfast, do some volunteer work, read horizon-broadening books, eat an even healthier lunch. In the early afternoon I would spend time with my wife and kids and do whatever they want. (If, in this fantasy scenario, my wife chooses to keep working and my kids are old enough to be in school, then this would either be soul-nourishing creative expression time or possibly nap time.) And then evenings would entail eating whatever I want for dinner, watching tv, reading comics, playing video games, drinking beer, and eating whatever else I want for a midnight snack.

Actually now that I think about it, if I went for a mid-morning bike ride or something the above plan is not terribly far off from a typical day at the beach during my annual summer vacation. Man, do I need winter to be over.

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