Exceptions to the Rule
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
(Samuel Taylor Coleridge)
Every rule has exceptions, ergo there are a few exceptions to the rule that professionalism and drugs or alcohol; just don’t mix.
This exception has occasionally held true at least in the literary world, although in the world of today’s top sports professionals it may also hold true for those athletes who are bulking up with androgenic or anabolic steroids while trying not to perform under the influence of other mind-altering substances. Perhaps, this is because steroids do in fact beneficially alter performance, although contrarily they also have been known to have severe adverse effects on the personality.
Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Lance Armstrong come to mind with enhanced performance. But then again ask Taylor Hooton’s father what he thinks of steroids after his 17 year old athlete son abused them, became depressed and committed suicide. Or ask the remaining family of steroid abusing Professional Wrestler Chris Benoit who killed his wife, his son and then himself.
Mickey Mantle may have been an exceptional case of an individual who could abuse a substance and still perform. John Daly almost made it too, but eventually fizzled out when alcohol finally overwhelmed his natural talent. Usual odds favor the probability that substance abuse will result in the crash and burn of any career.
In the literary world Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was reputed to be a cocaine addict, yet thrilled the world with his tales of Sherlock Holmes.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge actually admitted that his poem Kubla Kahn was ruined and left unfinished because while in the state of an opium reverie a “visitor from Portlock” knocked on his door and interrupted his entire thought process. He said he lost perhaps a dozen lines.
Then there is the case of Lewis Carroll, whose possible pedophilic addiction to pre-pubescent girls may have been quite a bit more sinister than using either opium, cocaine or both. Just ask Alice.
And who can tell how many modern rock music icons have written beautiful songs while under the influence of marijuana, opiates, amphetamines, LSD or booze; both before, during or after the fact of whatever substance they happen to be abusing at the time.
But for the ordinary, average every day working stiff citizen, I wouldn’t recommend at all playing golf, going bowling, skiing, playing softball or tennis, writing a song or a story or sometimes even attending a christening or a wedding, while under the influence of anything.
That is not unless the people you are up against or mingling with are hyped up on the same chemical substance as the one you are. In this circumstance you might be perceived as being fantastically talented, but only in relative terms.
- Hey. After I snorted coke last night I had ten great ideas for making a million dollars.
- Yeah. And after ten beers I shot a 65 on the driving range. You shoulda seen it.
First of all, being a legend in your own mind, you undoubtedly are not all that great at whatever the sport might be. You are also not creative enough to write or sing worth a wit, and you are not clever enough to hold a decent conversation while partially coherent mumbling or slurring; although as you utter them, those words resonate as music to your own ears.
One should always remember that although you might be inclined to think otherwise; the superstars who abuse drugs and alcohol have an amazing talent that gives them a towering leg up to begin with before they decide to waste, squander, or even exploit it in a myriad of other non-commercial enterprises. However, in our ordinary, mundane world, water will always seek its own level.
“It is cocaine,” he said, “a seven-per-cent solution. Would you care to try it?”