So today, I'm sitting in one of the most unauthentic places on the planet, Las Vegas, thinking about authenticity. That wasn't a derogatory commentary on Las Vegas itself, the people have been very nice, particularly the employees at the M&Ms Store. How can you not be happy working in a chocolate factory, right?
But I think Las Vegas says a whole lot about American culture. I'm struck by the sheer "Matrix"-like environment. The city was built to give its visitors the reality that they are somewhere else. There is a fake Statue of Liberty, which makes me sort of sad... in my opinion, the Statue of Liberty shouldn't ever be duplicated, whether it's a scaled down model in front of the New York New York hotel or a bobble head for that matter. But not only that, there is a full on neon castle, the Excalibur Hotel, where you can have dinner while fake knights joust away. Every hotel is a small city in itself where pheromones are piped in and there are no windows to the outside world. All of this is done to make the participant wile away the hours plugging quarter after quarter into neon one armed bandits hoping to make it big. Meanwhile, the only one who makes it big is the corporation running the pseudo-city. Thousands of people keep these places running, some making barely a living wage and yet people flock to Las Vegas every year by the hundreds of thousands.
As soon as I landed here, I missed home. I stepped off the ramp from the plane and was immediately accosted by ding-a-linging, flash-a-flooting slot machines and shops filled with rhinestones. I immediately hated it. I didn't miss Billings per se, but open land, clean air, pine trees and soft dirt paths. I realized, maybe thanks to Las Vegas, how important being authentic really is to me. How living the life I was meant to or even drawn to is now my mission.
Maybe there's a lesson here as well about how many of us were fooled by fake news during this election cycle. Have we gotten so used to accepting a facade as reality that we no longer know the difference? Las Vegas is a really good example of this. The whole town is really a facade... did I mention I was staying at the Excalibur Hotel, a fake castle with a fake drawbridge and everything... are we so jaded by our everyday lives that we are desperate to escape from them?well, I digress a bit.
Let me get back to authenticity. Remember that authenticity is different for every individual. What I love and want to work toward or celebrate is probably totally different from what you find genuine. Nevertheless, real is real, facade is facade. I'm grateful that my life has led me to appreciate agates over diamonds or wood over plastic. I'm grateful that I'd rather be sitting under a big cottonwood drawing rather than in a castle in the city flipping through obnoxious television channels. I'm grateful that for the most part, I've built a life of authenticity and even though I'm not quite where I want to be, I feel I will be there soon. So, if you're like me, find those things that matter to you. How do they influence you? Figure out what's important to you and then live that. Be that. Be YOU.