Last week I had the opportunity to travel to Biloxi Mississippi to the beautiful Beau Rivage for a corporate Vision Committee meeting. While I was there, I poked my head in at the craps table.
Some folks shy away from craps and the casino in general, but the game itself intrigues me. Call this a confession, but here’s why.
I could sit there just watching; calculating probabilities in my head. Observing the dealers and gamblers toss chips as they take their turn at gambling.
Sometimes, I place myself in Kenny Rogers’ familiar song and I’ll run into a gambler.
Last week, I ran into two!
Frank was 86-years old. Although born and raised in upstate New York, he had since relocated to sunny South Florida. His partner in crime was 90-year old friend, John. The two were reminiscent of Jack Lemon and Walter Matthau in Grumpy Old Men as they exchanged glances and interactions, the content of which, largely depended on the roll of the dice.
Then the gambler began to speak…
“You know I was a milk man in the city for a while. Delivered milk to Judy Garland once.”
His New York accent was as authentic as his worn, green blazer. His pride clearly evident as he named an A-list that was well beyond my years. I sat there and listened as he continued to tell me about his life.
Then, he focused on his friend.
“You know John here, he’s older than dirt, he’s 90!” Frank pointed to his counterpart who stayed focused on the dice.
John was much more subdued, quiet as he focused intently on his task as hand.
“You guys are pulling one over on me!” I laughingly engaged as I realized that if they were a business, Frank ran sales and John ran operations.
About that time, John’s bet of a hard four hit; two twos on the dice. A payout of 9-to-1 earned him $180 on his $20 bet. However, the 90-year old didn’t yell like everyone else, but his eyes lit up ever so slightly as he gently clenched his fist.
I forced a high-five as the pair decided to cash out for the night.
“You come often?” Frank asked me as he started walking away.
“I don’t, but when I do, I hope you’ll be here,” I replied. “If we don’t happen to cross paths, I’m glad we did today.”
“Likewise.” Frank’s sincerity made me smile.
I had run into a gambler.
Do you know what these two guys taught me?
You’re never too old to gamble (tweet that)
I don’t want to reach a point in life when I stop chasing my dreams because I’m too old; a point when I stop taking risks.
All too often, we get stuck in this mindset of just wanting to be comfortable, so we make up nonsense terms like, “I’m too old,” and we avoid any risk.
Here’s the truth: comfortable is dangerous.
If I may be so bold, nothing great was ever born out of comfort.
A quick caution: Risk is not recklessness.
Calculated risk involves thinking, planning and adapting; its active AND meditative. There’s a soul element involved. Recklessness is careless and stubborn; it’s only active.
Particularly as Christians, we get in this mindset of timidity and meekness. While those are great qualities to have, don’t refuse risk. If you look at Jesus’ ministry, he turned conventional belief on its head; it wasn’t comfortable at all, it was risky!
Maybe the real risk we should fear is wanting to be comfortable…
What is one thing that you’ve felt called in your heart to do that you’ve never taken action on because you’re too _________ ? (old, poor, tired, etc)
Now, stop thinking and start doing!
In the words of Don Schlitz who wrote Kenny Rogers’ The Gambler:
“There’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealin’s done”
Until then, you can find me at the craps table…
I’ll save you a spot!
Regardless of your age, what risks are you taking? What dreams ignite your soul only to be drenched by the flood of doubt? Share your questions and thoughts below! Be sure to enter your name to receive all of the updates as they are posted and happy gambling! Matt