In the 1980’s and ’90’s my husband’s work frequently took us to Las Vegas. At the time, Caesars Palace and the Mirage stood as the most glamorous casinos on the Strip. I remember when Treasure Island, the Excalibur, the Luxor, and Mandalay Bay were built as the latest, most trendy new tourist attractions.
Ten Years Later
Then followed a full decade before I returned to this city. As we disembarked from the plane and walked through the airport, the usual advertisements and slogans barraged our senses. Australian Chippendales flaunting bare chests and flexed muscles promised “Thunder from Down Under.” Another billboard advertising entertainment described it as “Just the Right Amount of Wrong.” The debauchery of Vegas has always distressed me, and I was thinking about how nothing much had changed in those ten years other than some airport renovations. Then we stepped outside . . .
I was not prepared for what greeted us. Yes, I had heard how they built more casinos since my last visit—such as the Bellagio, Paris, New York, the Venetian, the Aria, and the Cosmopolitan. But I was not prepared for the transformation the entire Strip had undergone in those ten years. How was it possible that I nearly did not recognize any of the former landmarks? How was it possible that this city, always known for gaudy flash and glitz, grew even more ostentatiously over-the-top? Whereas before, the expected billboards and neon lights bombarded your senses all along the Strip, now most these billboards had been transformed into video screens and the place looked like Times Square. The sheer amount of lights, colors, glitz, and moving screens were so disorienting that I wondered how drivers could keep their focus on the road. Everything shone and sparkled in techno glory creating an edgy splendor which bordered on downright classy. I was completely overcome, astonished, amazed.
The poignancy, then, was not lost on me when I later encountered a Zsa Zsa Gabor slot machine depicting her in Greenacres. How beautiful she was, I thought to myself. Yet the actress, now in her 90’s, had recently been in the news because doctors had to amputate a leg. Once glamorous, once in her prime, once the hottest, latest thing. Now faded, now wrinkled, now hovering on death’s door. And mostly forgotten.
A Tragic Life
In light of our short time on earth, how should we live? Certainly not in denial of time’s relentless march as observed in so many celebrities and as Zsa Zsa Gabor herself illustrates (excerpt from DailyMail.com):
Zsa Zsa Gabor only realised her leg had been amputated 18 months after the event when she tried to sit up and saw it was missing . . . as the horror dawned on her. Nobody had been able to tell the 95-year-old for fear it would cause too much upset, the New York Post reported . . . Miss Gabor is now confined to her bed at her Los Angeles mansion. [Her husband] admitted that along with not telling her about her leg, she “doesn’t know she gets food through the tube . . . It will only upset her. She was so glamorous always, and she is so vain.” He also confessed to not informing her of the death of her friend Phyllis Diller last month as “I don’t want to give bad news to my wife.”
Clutch the transient to your heart, and you will find that you’ve been only chasing the wind. I Corinthians 7:31b says, For this world in its present form is passing away. Because of this reality, as Christians we live differently than non-believers.
An interesting fact about casinos is that they do not display clocks anywhere. Everything about these establishments, including the maze-like layout of the floor, scents they may pipe in, and the eye candy decor is designed to keep you inside their doors for as long as possible. No clocks? The hope is that you will lose all sense of time, stay too long, and blow through your budget.
It’s a New Year. Have you checked to see what time it is lately? Or are you living as if there were no clock?
Lord, teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12).