Life Lessons From A Bathroom Remodel

I believe that it all started with the toilet. I can’t say for sure as the process began well over a year ago, but the toilet hypothesis is the most logical. Let me give you some background information so you can make sense of this opening sentence.

My house was built in 1984, which makes it about 35 years old. Its style is what I would call standard suburban issue for its era. Two stories, four bedrooms, two and a half baths. I completely remodeled the upstairs bathrooms around 5 years ago, which incidentally is how I became best friends with Tom. He was the general contractor on the job.

My downstairs bathroom never got that love, although I did lamely attempt to update it around 10 years earlier. At that time, I was remodeling our kitchen and extended some of that work into the downstairs powder room. Its old dated oak sink cabinet was resurfaced with a cherry wood veneer, and a remnant piece of granite from the kitchen was added to the cabinet’s top. Due to the geometry of the granite piece, I had to use an odd round sink. The vanity never looked quite right, as the granite was too big for the tiny bathroom, and the sink was too small for the granite. 

Above the cabinet was a cheap, oak-framed mirror that covered a tiny medicine cabinet. Above the medicine cabinet was an old fashioned wall light that projected from an oak base plate. In an attempt to unify the mirror and light with the cabinet, I sanded down their old finishes and applied a cherry wood stain. The result of my DIY staining job? When my sister Carol saw it, she tactfully suggested that a lot of people were replacing medicine cabinets with mirrors. Lastly, I had the room painted in a faux finish that was trendy at the time but now is hopelessly dated. I never was very pleased with my remodeling effort, but it was good enough, and I put up with it.

The old contractor grade toilet was far from perfect, although I replaced its innards. Over the last few years its ability to flush wholly deteriorated. This was evident when someone unfamiliar with the unit used it and didn’t wait for a second flush. The next person in line could be met with a little surprise waving at them in the loo. This loo wave became so common that replacing the toilet became a high priority.

As you know, I have difficulty asking people to help based on childhood issues. However, I have been working on this. In fact, I have a small handful of individuals who I’m pretty comfortable requesting aid and assistance. One of those individuals is my friend, Tom.

My hypothesis is that I didn’t ask Tom to remodel my entire powder room, that level of imposition on him would simply be too high. I believe that I asked him to help me replace the offending toilet. However, the project slowly expanded. The ugly sink cabinet had a large warp along its bottom side panel, and it was decided to replace that unit. Naturally, the dysfunctional medicine cabinet and old fashioned wall lamp were on the chopping block, then the beat-up door casing, and equally worn base molding, then the faux finished wall paint, and so on. Within two weeks, my simple toilet exchange had spun out-of-control.  

I ordered the sink cabinet and the medicine chest a year ago, but they sat in my garage waiting for a sink. I wanted a basic porcelain top, as I thought it would look both lighter and cleaner in my very tiny powder room. Finding one proved challenging and required Tom’s personal connection at Kohler. The light and the faucet were ordered but had to be returned, and different ones had to be purchased. Other items, like a higher quality exhaust fan, were added at Tom’s suggestion. With a design plan and materials in place, the project began. This was when we faced real challenges. 

The original faucet had to be returned as it was not compatible with the sink. However, I do like the new one!

For clarity, sake, I use the word “we” lightly, as the bulk of the efforts were Tom’s. I was the guy who helped move things, found the pencil, located the level, and did other menial tasks. With that said, I still learned a lot during the project. Of course, I learned a construction technique or two. However, the bathroom remodel also served as a metaphor for life, and it is those life lessons that I would like to share with you today.

Life lessons from a bathroom remodel

#1 Assuming is not knowing.

It is possible to go to a big box store and buy a complete vanity set that has both a cabinet and sink. In the past, I thought that these units looked OK, but my taste has been corrupted by my friend, Tom. He has shown me the glaring differences between cheaply made vanities and cabinets of higher quality. As I mentioned above, it took me a long time to locate the type of sink that I wanted. However, there was a glaring problem. The sink was several inches narrower and about an inch wider than the cabinet that I purchased. I had assumed that these kinds of items were of standard dimensions. We did come up with a work-around (more on that later), but my assumption cost me both time and money.

I wanted an all porcelain sink, but it was the wrong size for the base cabinet.

How many times do we make assumptions in life? Perhaps we assume something about a person based on peripheral facts. “He must be conceited because he has a lot of money.” “She must not be knowledgeable because she never finished school.” Most people will likely deny such biases, but they probably affect them despite their protests. Assumptions can shrink our personal world.

#2 The Internet does not make you an expert.

I like watching YouTube videos and TV shows on home repair as they are entertaining. Their simplistic explanations make it appear that every home project is a relaxed weekend away. My friend, Tom, is an expert when it comes to many home repair tasks. Time and time again, I observed how “simple” tasks required additional knowledge, tools, and effort. 

I can remember instances as a doctor when a patient thought that they had more knowledge than me about a topic because they read something (often very biased) on the internet. I recall one middle-aged lady who I had been working with for over a year. I was surprised that she came to one appointment quite peeved.  

“Doctor, I want to be on Paxil, and I’m upset with you that you don’t have me on it!” I was taken aback as she was doing quite well. Apparently, she had seen a few commercials about Paxil (an antidepressant) which prompted her to click on their website. She was convinced that my medical degree, board certifications, and experience were overshadowed by her 30 minutes of “research.”  

I let her vent for a while, and then I asked her a few questions. “Do you remember that medicine that your first psychiatrist had you on?” I asked. “Yes, it was terrible,” she responded. “You couldn’t tolerate the side effects, and you didn’t find it to be very effective for your symptoms,” I said. “Yes, I have no idea why I was placed on such a horrible medicine, which is why I changed to you.” She said.  “That medicine was Paxil,” I informed her. Silence was her response.

Becoming an expert in anything takes time and energy. There is a difference between knowing information and knowledge based on training and experience. This is not to say that we shouldn’t question the experts around us. However, it would be ludicrous to think that I know more about construction than Tom, or that 30 minutes on the internet would turn a consumer into an expert in psychopharmacology.

#3 Measure twice, cut once.

Despite concerted effort, there were times that we made mistakes in our bathroom remodel. Sometimes it was because we “remembered” a measurement instead of writing down the number. At other times we bought the wrong item, and then we had to retrofit or replace it. 

In life, many problems can be avoided with just a little extra thought, and the examples for this are endless. A little planning almost always makes life easier. In life, think twice, act once.

#4 Many mistakes can be corrected, but always at some cost.

I mentioned that my vanity cabinet and sink were mismatched. This was a potential disaster as I couldn’t return the custom cabinet, and there aren’t a large variety of porcelain sinks available. Luckily, one of Tom’s subcontractors is an expert cabinet maker. He was able to trim the depth of the cabinet as well as its side panel. In addition, he cleverly used a piece of base shoe to optically widened the cabinet. Naturally, the fix cost me both time and money, but the problem was corrected.  

We all make mistakes, but the fewer mistakes you make, the easier your life will be. At times avoiding mistakes is as simple as becoming a better planer. For instance, if you always forget items when you go to the grocery store, bring a grocery list. At other times it is essential to look deeper into a pattern of behavior. Do you find yourself “falling” for the wrong type of person? You may need to carefully examine your selection process, and you would likely benefit from the help of an expert. In this case, a psychotherapist. 

I said that many mistakes can be corrected. However, some can’t.  In those cases you have to live with your mistake. Here radical acceptance can help.

#5 Listen to what people have to say.

Tom has told me stories where individuals went against his advice and then regretted their decision. From my professional life, I have had many incidences where individuals took their treatment into their own hands (and against my medical advice) by stopping meds, radically increasing meds, or trying bizarre “alternative” treatments . Their outcome was typically poor. 

It is OK to challenge experts. If we didn’t, we might still believe that the earth was flat. With that said, experts deserve our attention and respect.  

#6 Seek experts when you need an expert, but become more expert when you can.

A bathroom is just a room. It is the decorating touches that change it from a utility space to something that we can call our own. Despite its diminutive size, I wanted to give my newly remodeled space a personality. I chose a blue-grey paint as I desired a more contemporary color (grey), but I also wanted some continuity with the rest of the downstairs, which is a shade of blue.

I also wanted to add some art to the room and decided that one larger piece was the way to go. I determined that a group of objects in such a small space would look cluttered. In my mind bathroom art should be interesting, but not engaging. The powder room is a space where people spend a short amount of time in an active process. It is not an art gallery.

The problem was that I could not find anything that matched my requirements. I had a similar problem with our upstairs hall bathroom and solved that problem by creating the art myself. I have never had training in art, and I have never studied the mechanics of art. However, I do seem to have a sense of balance and design. Also, I like to do creative things.

Creating a piece of art would only cost me my time and a little money for materials. If my project turned out badly, I was not obligated to use it. With all of this in mind, I made the piece that now hangs above the toilet. I like the way it turned out, and I learned a thing or two in the process. 

My homemade “Loo Art.”

Many of our behaviors tend to be repetitive, and we can see these patterns in everything that we do. In the above post, I tried to illustrate some of the lessons that I learned from a bathroom remodel.  Lessons can be gleaned from just about any situation or interaction. Take some random event that you recently experienced and see what it tells you about yourself and the people around you.  

My tiny bathroom. Who knew that so much work would be required to update it.

A Letter To My Children: How To Predict Good Relationships

Dear Kids

Wouldn’t it be great if we had supernatural powers that allowed us to predict the future? We could evaluate a job before we ever started working there. We could explore the future loyalty of a friend. We could predict the reliability of a potential spouse.

Humans have craved such powers for millennia, and have gone to extraordinary lengths to attempt such prowess. Gypsi card readers, psychics, and Ouija boards are examples of some common efforts. Companies have made fortunes developing software that attempts to predict stock trends. Cryptic writings from mystics like Nostradamus have been dissected and their vague metaphors interpreted. Even YouTube is swollen with channels that predict everything from the next new feature of an upcoming iPhone model to the cataclysmic breakdown of society as we know it.

Predictors and predictions are popular, as they give us a sense of mastery in a world where certainty is typically met with an equal and opposite force called uncertainty. Predictions purport to give us a glimpse into the future and knowing that future can provide us with options. We can prepare, we can retreat, we can confront. The unfortunate reality with these predictions is that they are often wrong. So why do we believe them? Likely because they offer us the illusion of knowledge, and knowledge is power. 

Kids, there is a much more accurate way to predict the future, especially when dealing with your interpersonal life. It is a method that costs nothing but often ignored. Why is it ignored? Mostly, because as humans, we want simple solutions that allow us to continue with a situation or connection. We basically want to have our cake and eat it too.

In my work as a psychiatrist, I have witnessed many couples where one partner is the giver, and the other is the taker. I can recall one situation where a woman was married to her husband for many years. She was the one who soothed the kids. She was the one that professed love to her husband. She was the one that always forgave her spouse for his selfish and inconsiderate behavior. Her rationale for staying in the relationship was that she “knew” that deep-down her husband loved her and would do anything for her if the need arose. A significant crisis struck the family, and this woman became utterly overwhelmed. She needed her husband and desperately asked for his help. His response echoed their 25 years of marital history. Not only did he refuse to help, but he also blamed her for the problem. He then became upset with her because he wasn’t getting his needs met. Her relationship was built on the false idea that her husband would be available for her if she really needed him.  However, the long history of their connection foretold otherwise.

A famous saying from Alcoholics Anonymous is, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” When you have invested in a relationship, it is easy to accept a promise that, “This time I’ll really change.” In my years as a therapist, I was privileged to be included in the personal lives of thousands of patients. I witnessed countless times where people chose to ignore the reality of their situation as it was easier to hope that their friend or partner really meant it “this time.” This call and response may make both parties temporarily feel good, but how realistic is change fueled only by a promise?

If you want to predict the future, look to the past. If you have a friend who is consistently unreliable and selfish, expect this behavior to continue. Ask yourself, “Do I really want to continue to invest in this relationship, or are my time and energy better spent elsewhere?” If you are in a relationship that is fueled by constant crisis, blame, and anger consider reflecting on the reasons why you continue. 

Patients would often ask me a different “why” questions. Why is my partner violent? Why does my friend constantly lie? Why is there always drama with my co-worker? It is challenging to analyze someone in the third party; the more important question is, why are you putting up with them?

Sometimes the answer to this question is that you have no choice. You may be working with a difficult person, but other positive factors keep you in your job. In situations like this, it is best to minimize that person’s impact on you. However, there are many times when you may think that you don’t have options, but in fact, you do. However, change may involve a certain amount of work and discomfort. Parting ways with a toxic friend may also close a broader social circle. Leaving a pathological spouse may force a reduction in lifestyle. I would like to remind you that these realities may be unpleasant, but they are absolutely surmountable. Happiness is not measured by your number of Facebook “likes” or the square footage of your home, it is measured by a sense of meaning, belonging, and worth. Is the relationship that you are questioning enhancing these, or hampering these qualities?

If a person has promised to change the way that they interact with you, ask yourself, how? In many cases, a simple promise to change a long-standing negative pattern will become a broken promise. Such pledges of change can be an easy “get off my back” tactic. With that said, I have seen folks make a dramatic and significant change and improve their behavior, but typically this is with consistent, hard work. Bad practices are often generalized. If someone mistreats others but treats you well I would suggest that it won’t be too long before you are also on the B list.  

The good news is that this historical predicting is bidirectional. If you know someone who is a salt-of-the-earth person who treats others with respect and kindness, there is a high likelihood that they will treat you similarly.   

Kids, I know that you are wise and sensible, and I acknowledge that you have made good choices in your friendships and connections. However, I believe that we all face difficult situations in life. A friendship or relationship can start off great, only to have it slowly dissolved into a painful disaster. Don’t judge your connections with others based on a honeymoon period. People reveal their true self over time. 

It is also important to realize that we are all imperfect. A quality friend may hurt you or even fail you. However, when you look back at your history with them, you will find that the overall positives of the relationship far exceed any negatives. Relationships are not about perfection, they are about connection.

My pride in you and my respect for you are tremendous and overflowing.  


Your Dad

A Letter To My Children: Choose Kind Friends

Dear Kids

When I was young, the most common descriptor of me was that I was kind. In my young mind, this suggested that I was weak. I wanted people to think that I was smart, brave, or possibly strong, not kind. To me, it seemed like kindness was just the way I was, no different than the fact that I had blue eyes and dishwater blond hair. 

As I grew older, I realized that kindness was not a passive trait or a sign of weakness. I came to understand that kindness is an active choice and a measure of strength. Many sought after behavioral characteristics offer benefit to the bearer of that trait. Kindness does not, at least not directly. Kindness is very different than being passive or subordinate to the wishes of others. Kindness is an active process that recognizes that all people have worth and value. Being kind to a person means that you place them on the same level as you are, and treat them with the care and respect that you wish to be treated.

As you become older, it can be easy to become cynical and self-serving. As our world becomes ever more fragmented and competitive, it may seem like the best “get ahead” option is the best option for a good life. As a society we celebrate aggression, ruthlessness, and power. We are told that these qualities will get us a big house, a trophy partner, and a fancy car. We are led to believe that having these things will give us happiness. Of course, this is not the case.

You know that I love my toys and that things, such as my cameras give me great pleasure. However, those objects are only valuable as tools, and in fact, they have no value by themselves. What good is it to have a high-end camera if I don’t have a subject to photograph, or someone to share that photograph with? Without connection taking pictures is just a job.

We are defined by the connections that we have with others. That holds true even for an introvert like me. I envision myself at the center of my “ relationship web.” Connected close to me are those people who I love greatly, a bit further out are those I care about, then those I associate with, and so on. Somewhere in a distant ring of my web is the checker at the Jewel, or the neighbor three blocks away who I occasionally see on my morning walks. My web keeps me not only connected but also supported. Without it, I would be spinning out of control and without direction.  

We all have these webs of connections, but our connectors can be very different depending on our efforts and expectations. Some of us have webs that enhance who we are, and some have webs that pull us apart and prevent us from being ourselves.  

In life, you will make choices, and some of those choices will center on your connections with others. Some may think that the ultimate goal is to be popular or to be part of a popular group. I would caution you that the entrance fee to such a cadre is high.  To be accepted you will be required to bend to the will of others, you will have to show your “ popularity superiority” by putting down others, and you will be expected to do things that you may not be comfortable with. In other words, you will lose yourself to gain something that is artificial and easily lost.

So how does one form a healthy support web? Instead of seeking external validation by belonging to a high-demand group, it is better to find internal peace by seeking individuals and groups that mirror your core values and behaviors. Most good things in life require some work, and that is the case here. Quality people are attracted to quality people. Seek people in your life who are intrinsically kind, and who value you for who you are. In turn, it is imperative that you are kind to and value them. 

Kids, I see great kindness in each an every one of you. That same kindness trait that I now value in myself. Make it a priority to keep it alive, nurture it, embrace it, and practice it. Being kind is not an action that should be reserved for those in the inner rings of your connection web, it should extend outward to all corners, no matter how weak or temporary. Extend your kindness to the clerk at Walmart, the waiter at your favorite breakfast joint, and the receptionist at your doctor’s office.  

At the beginning of this letter, I mentioned that kindness was a trait that didn’t offer direct benefit. However, it does provide indirect benefits. When you treat others with kindness and respect, they are more likely to return those feelings to you. What could be better than that?


Your Dad

A Letter To My Children-On Saying No

This is one of a set of letters to my children.  These letters will not be in series; instead, I will write them as I am moved to do so.

Dear Kids

I was raised to show respect to adults and to submit to their wishes.  I never liked conflict, and this combined with my childhood training resulted in me subjugating my needs and wants for those of others. I came to understand that when people ask me for something, they were telling me to do something.  “Can you do this for me,” was really, “Do this for me.” If someone asked me to do something for them, I did it, even if I didn’t want to, or didn’t have the time. Helping people when I didn’t want to made me feel like a martyr instead of a hero. 

I recognized this problem, and I tried to actively change my behavior in high school. When I started refusing requests, people were not very happy with me; they were used to getting their way.  

When someone asked me to do something that I didn’t want to do, I would say that I was sorry that I couldn’t help them, and then followed that statement with a reason or reasons why.  This often resulted in the individual picking holes in my excuse as they tried to convince me that I could still do the task at hand. That wasn’t difficult because many of my reasons were quickly fabricated to “Let the other person down gently.” At times my, “No,” would stand, at other times I would give in.

Requests could range from something as simple as someone wanting to hang out, to more complex tasks that could require days or even weeks to accomplish. My refusal skills were moving in the right direction, but I had a long way to go.

An event happened when I was a 1st-year medical student that changed how I approached this issue.  I had been attending Northwestern for a few months and was invited to go to a meeting. At that meeting, many committees were looking for people to sit on them.  A 4th-year med student saw me and approached me. She seemed very excited and happy to see me, but I had a strong impression that she was playing me. With great enthusiasm, she told me about a committee that she was on.  I listened to her, and it became clear that she was looking for someone to take over her position so she could get out of it. The committee held no interest for me. Worse, it met almost weekly and involved a lot of work outside of its scheduled meetings.  If I agreed to join, I would be committing my time for the next four years. 

Finally, she popped the question and excitedly “invited” me to join the group.  I knew that I didn’t want to do it, and my mind started to race to come up with some reason why I couldn’t.  I could not come up with a reason, and on some level, I knew that any reason would quickly be countered by the 4th-year as her goal was to get rid of her responsibility.

I paused for a moment and then looked her straight in the eye. “No, I am not interested,” I said.  “Why not, this is a great honor,” she replied. I continued to look at her and made an effort to smile, “No,” was what I repeated and walked away.

I have to say that I felt enormous guilt and anxiety after my refusal.  My heart was racing, and I was concerned about what this 4th-year could or would do to me as her position of power (in my mind) was exponentially more significant than mine.  She represented an adult, and I was once again a child. It was physically and emotionally painful to walk away, but that discomfort started to dissipate by the next morning. By the end of the week, it was gone entirely.

That simple, “No,” saved me from years of pointless work.  It also taught me that I didn’t always have to give someone a reason why I didn’t want to comply with their wishes.  

Kids, over the years, I have made an effort to continue to do many things for other people, but I now do those things as a choice rather than out of some false sense of obligation.  There are times when I will do something mutually beneficial to both parties; I relish these win/win situations. There are other times when I don’t benefit, but what is asked from me is small, and it has little impact on my life.  Still, there are other times when I may not want to do something that also requires a lot of work, and I do it anyway. When I help someone by choice, it is a beautiful feeling. I know that my intentions are sincere, and this knowledge gives my efforts meaning, and value.  When I refuse a request, it is also done with thought. Yes, I may upset someone, but they can likely find someone else to do their bidding. I understand that I can’t solve the problems of the world. 

Refusal skills are essential in all areas of life.  Friends that want you to do something that goes against your values.  Job expectations that are unreasonable. Relationship demands beyond your comfort zone. If you have a stable connection with someone refusing to do something will not hamper that connection.  If your relationship is based on a house of cards, it is better to know that too.

I want you to be generous and giving adults, but I would never want you to abandon your values or sense of self because of outside demands. Always be true to yourself and your values.


Your Dad

Leaving Las Vegas

Julie floated the idea sometime in May and acted on it a few weeks later.  I didn’t object, but I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into.

“Will and Grace will be in college, and Kathryn will be in her Peace Corp training. We should do something as a couple.”  Julie’s idea was to go to Las Vegas. Why Las Vegas? The destination was determined more on inexpensive airfare than anything else. 

“I reserved a hotel; it is only $29 a night,” Julie said.  “How is it rated?” I asked. “Surprisingly, OK,” she replied. 

The month before the trip had been rough due to all of the effort needed to transition our kids to their various destinations.  It was also emotionally rocky as it heralded a significant change in our relationship. When we met decades earlier, I already had my daughter, Anne.  During our entire courtship and marriage, we had never been a single couple.

Our Allegiant Air flight would depart from Rockford and would fly non-stop to Las Vegas.  I had flown out of Rockford in the past and liked the airport, which is tiny by comparison to most other airfields.  There is something to be said of the fact that you can park directly in front of the terminal, and then leave your car parked for $10 a day.

The Airbus A 319 was packed, and I also felt packed into my very compact seat.  However, I wasn’t about to complain as the airfare was cheap, and I remembered the adage, “You get what you pay for.”

When we landed, we picked up a rental car and headed to our $29/night hotel. The Plaza is an older hotel built in the 1970s and is located in the downtown area. We parked in the hotel’s parking garage and took the elevator to the lobby level. The elevator opened directly into the hotel’s massive casino.  There a hundred or more machines, all ablaze with bright lights, and many making noises assaulted me. I was taken aback.

We used the hotel’s automated check-in as the line at the hotel’s front desk was long and slow-moving.  The machine spit out our keycards, and we proceeded to our room on the 7th floor. Thankfully, the room was large and nicely appointed.  My only concern was the smell of cigarette smoke. In Las Vegas, it is OK to smoke in hotel rooms.

After settling into our room, we returned to the lobby via the casino, and I was struck with the number of people who at 3 PM were gambling on machines, smoking cigarettes, and drinking alcohol.  Outside the front door of the hotel was Fremont street which contained the ”Fremont Experience,” which consisted of blocks of brightly lit establishments, multiple live bands, street performers, open-air bars, restaurants, casinos, and a vast curved dome canopy that was a gigantic video screen.  It was like no place that I have ever visited. Once again, I was struck with the vast number of people drinking, smoking, and doing just about whatever they wanted to do.

Internally, I was on overload, and on some level, I found myself judging those around me, and not in a positive way.  I think that I thought of myself as above the other patrons. They were acting so wild and carefree while I was my usual calm and controlled self.

Similar sensory assaults occurred throughout my Las Vegas experience. It didn’t matter if I was downtown on Fremont street, or at the very tony Bellagio Hotel on the strip. Las Vegas seemed to be out-of-control and filled with people who were also out-of-control.

Over the next day or two, I became aware of an interesting phenomena; I started to adjust to the over-the-top stimulation of the city.  As I became more able to filter out the noise, I also started to view my co-inhabitants differently. Yes, they were drinking, many were loud, and some very drunk.  However, most were very civil, and no one hassled me. I didn’t see fights breaking out in the streets, or people performing lewd acts in the alleyways. Just about everyone seemed to be having a good time and were enjoying the experience around them.

I looked further into the crowd and noticed that it consisted of all ages and races.  Not everyone was loud; many were spectators just like me. I looked more closely at the building facades festooned with lights and neon.  Yes, they were completely over the top, but they were also spectacular and envisioned at a level that I had never witnessed before.

I think it is interesting that once I got past my preconceived biases, I was able to view the people, culture, and architecture of Las Vegas in a different light.  I saw Las Vegas for what it was, a fantasy escape town. I saw my fellow travelers for who they were, people who were looking for an escape from their day to day lives — people who were more similar to me than different.

The experience made me think of how it is easy to judge others based on our biases, and how it is simple for us to place someone in a category, rather than to spend the time to get to know who they are.  I believe that if I had held on to my biases, I would have left Las Vegas regretting the trip. However, by looking at similarities rather than differences, I was able to enjoy my stay and experience a city that is like no other. 

When I returned to Naperville, I didn’t have a desire to drink more alcohol or go to the local riverboat casinos.  I returned the same person. However, the trip did highlight something significant to me. We live in a time when it is becoming more acceptable to judge, criticize, and condemn others because of our preconceived feelings concerning their race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or anything else that we see as different from us.  Perhaps the question we should be asking ourselves is, why is that? Why is it vital for us to exclude and judge others based on a single factor when, as humans our essence it the conglomeration of thousands of factors, not just one. It is time for us to use our big human brains to expand our horizons, not contract them. I am reminded of the Martin Niemöller poem:

First, they came for the Communists

And I did not speak out

Because I was not a Communist

Then they came for the Socialists

And I did not speak out

Because I was not a Socialist

Then they came for the trade unionists

And I did not speak out

Because I was not a trade unionist

Then they came for the Jews

And I did not speak out

Because I was not a Jew

Then they came for me

And there was no one left

To speak out for me


The Fremont Experience

The strip A city of neon