You know what’s kept me away from drugs? Fear. I’m a chicken and a weakling. I’d be no match against the euphoria and bliss of narcotics. What I’d be is a freaking stoner, an instant junkie.
Alcohol wasn’t a threat since I don’t like the taste, except for vodka and tonics. They’re a perfect summer cocktail. Hot toddies with Jack Daniels are good, too, for a warm winter glow. They’re a bright spot in the season of frozen tundra.
Besides, when I drink I throw up. That’s off-putting, the vomiting. Hence drinking wasn’t a problem it barely qualified as enjoyable. I smoked a pack a day, though. It was comforting and I still miss it sometimes. Not physically, but mentally. Like all addictions it was a crutch — and a worry and a burden and expensive. Being dependent sucks.
But it happens before we know it. I get that. I understand the powerful, irresistible, dicey lure of addiction. What I don’t understand is relapse. Why would anyone do that to themselves? Return to helplessness. Seriously. Who embraces that kind of imprisonment? Who goes back for a Round 2 against abject misery?
In case you’re wondering where this came from, I watched Pollock the other night, the movie with Ed Harris and Marcia Gay Harden. Pollock is Jackson Pollock, an American artist / painter who was a leading force behind the abstract expressionist movement and known for developing a unique style called drip painting. He was an alcoholic for much of his life, destructive and creative in equal measure. After two years of abstinence and sobriety, health and productivity, he returned to drinking and all its attendant chaos. Willfully and with full knowledge of the consequences.
The rest is utterly predictable and so tiresome it’s boring. The dude died at the age of 44. He was driving drunk and careened into a wooded area going 60 or 70 mph. He and a passenger were killed instantly. Another passenger, Pollock’s gold digger mistress, survived. The guy was a brilliant artist, but ended up a has-been cliché.
His paintings, however, are among the most highly prized artwork in the world. In 2006, one of his pieces — No. 5, 1948 — reportedly sold for $140 million (that’s $140,000,000.00) via private sale at Sotheby’s. Yet Pollock deliberately traded his glorious, unbridled talent for booze.
Maybe it’s not so baffling, maybe it’s just sad.
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