Monday, August 02, 2004

Wish I could have been Ricky Williams YESTERDAY...

...because I really would have liked to have the option to say "Yes! I'll do just about anything to let go of my marijuana addiction, and hold onto my $3.6 million salary," rather than giving in to the addiction, and throwing a career away.

Now, I admit, playing pro football is a physically-grueling thing...and this ol' body of mine wouldn't take even the practice for 15 minutes. But I'd like to think that if someone said, "Gee, Steve, you have the opportunity to earn more than sixty-five times your last professional salary, if you'd just put down the weed," I might work reasonably hard to make that happen. But not ol' Ricky Williams, player for the Miami Dolphins (see his story here). According to a press release, "Williams has told the Herald his desire to continue smoking marijuana played a role in his decision to retire after five pro seasons" at age 27.

But as much as I shake my head at Ricky Williams, I also have to admit that I've made choices every bit as stupid in my own life. Hell, every time I eat anything containing refined sugar as a Type II diabetic, I am taking a step down the road toward amputations, neuropathy, blindness...not to mention all the side effects of being overweight.

And I also know that money rarely makes the difference. Keith L., a fellow in recovery whose talks I've admired, says that for him, the definition of alcoholism is "not caring about the price of the next drink" [or whatever]. I often wonder...if I went into Dunkin Donuts, ordered coffee and two donuts, and someone said, "That'll be $2.89, plus two toes eventually amputated off your left foot," would I be still be so happy to pay it and walk out the door with the donuts?

One of my best friends, Eric Amundson, is watching his sister struggle for life, after years and years of drug and alcohol abuse. They are watching her individual organs struggle to function after being damaged for years on end. And while I understand what drives us addictive types to "keep on keepin' on," it still makes me crazy. I wish things could be different for her - and I pray for the willingness to make them different for me.

Despite all of that, I have a significant issue with envy going on with Br'er Williams. In fact, I'd bet that tonight there are many, many unemployed people like me who would be willing to do any number of things (moral, immoral, sensible or otherwise) to come up with a tithe of the salary that Ricky Williams let go up in smoke today.

God help him ... and God help me this day (and henceforth) to really, really see the consequences of my actions. What price must we pay to surrender our addictions? The cost - to ourselves, to our families, and to the world - is so terrifyingly high that most of us can't even contemplate it.

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