Marty laughed when I told him what I wanted to do. It was the summer of 1998, and we were four years out of high school riding one of those casino-to-casino buses through Las Vegas. Marty was celebrating his college graduation; I wasn’t. After dropping out my sophomore year, I was still trying to figure out what to do with my life. From reading “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and attending a Franklin Covey planner seminar, I gathered that I was supposed to be putting life goals into my daily to-do lists. That day, we’d already walked the strip, eaten our weight in prime rib, played the slots, avoided losing any real money, and watched water spray into the desert sky.
Now it was time to create the life I truly wanted, a life that, at that moment, seemed to involve the distinct quality of the desert sunlight.
“I’m not going to the show tonight,” I told Marty. “I’m going to climb to the top of the parking garage to watch the sunset.”
Marty’s laughter filled the bus. People turned their heads and watched him laugh at me. This was not a thing you admitted to if you were a 22-year-old guy from South Louisiana: that you’d prefer to watch the light fall across a strange city than to dance with girls in a dark club.
I think I climbed to the top of that parking garage that night, but to be honest, I can’t be sure. Perhaps I capitulated to Marty’s ideas about what two young men were supposed to do with their Vegas night. Perhaps I didn’t. Since then, though, I’ve spent many a night alone outside with the moon, the stars, the dusk.
Twenty two years later, I’ve finally figured out how other South Louisiana men give themselves permission to spend hours watching the clouds move in the sky as the light falls on the trees and water. Marty hasn’t spent much time in a duck blind like the one pictured here; he would probably laugh at the guys going out at 4:30 a.m. to wait for a few little birds to fly by. But I smile every time I see them, because I know the hunters’ true motivations--they’re just looking for a good excuse to watch the sun rise.