They've been with me and even provided the backstage pass to many an exciting and stimulating moment.
Sometimes they even drove.
I suppose everything's relative and so what I consider fun and exciting, some may deem banal.
But to me--and I'm really the only one it matters to here--I've had plenty of good times in varying states of intoxication despite the apparent (or not so apparent), dangers.
That said, I feel I have been a bit unfair to my foes.
In my writing and subsequent retelling of my torrid affair with substances, I oftentimes neglect to mention what I consider the benefits of it all--the stuff besides the assuaging of the demons who bellow from our bowels and hack like a lumberjack on the back of our foreheads.
No, it hasn't been all doom and gloom.
In fact, just the opposite. It's just that the doom and gloom is a bit easier to write about because that stuff is so easy to identify. It's right there, sticking out like a shattered femur. It makes you want to scream at the top of your lungs until someone, panic stricken, calls for an ambulance and everyone has to pull over and stop.
You see, the good stuff is there. There's a ton of it lying around waiting for me to call its name and stroke its back. It knows it has a spot on the carpet where the sun shines--always will.
But I gotta admit that the good stuff has a strange consistency from being left on the shelf for so long.
It floats there, buoyant, while I stand on dry land.
The good stuff that has ties to the darkness lies in a jar. It is a Mason jar peppered with crystals on the outer edge, striped with short, sharp lines of maroon rust in the ridges and around the rim. It sits in a solution that has evaporated slightly regardless of the airtight seal. It's still suitable for consumption but it's probably better that no one open the lid for fear of what gases it may produce, for it was once a highly combustible elixir.
The many good times fueled by the vapors of the medicine could cure a whole village sick with fever. But the way it will leave each of its inhabitants dependent on its powerful ingredients will render them tolerable only to each other.
The list of advances and advantages from the desired effects of controlled substances is long and complex and comprised of many different individual sizes, shapes, and increments of weight. They sit, stationary, on a golden plate hanging by chains on a scale that measures the relative risk and inevitable recompense we all eventually take and owe respectively, opposite the ever growing cache of benefits in mind, body, and spirit from abstinence.
But these benefits--the positive results from daily surrender to what used to drive me--they are real.
They are real and they are valuable.
Without what used to drive me, many words spoken with fervor and passion--words I didn't know I knew until I said them--may never have come from my mouth.
Without what used to drive me, risky moves that turned into fortuitous surprises--moves that brought me places I had no right to be--may never have been made.
Without what used to drive me, phone numbers of people I could never speak to before--to people who I couldn't even gather the courage to talk about to others--may never have been dialed.
Without what used to drive me, laughter that shook my whole insides to the brink of spasms--over a joke that will never again hold the same power--might have died as an embryo.
Without what used to drive me, bets that paid off tenfold would have never been made, friendships would have never been formed, favors would have never been owed, fights deserving and bloody would have never been fought, contests won or lost would have never been entered, knowing glances would have never been acknowledged, responsibilities would have never been accepted, dares would have never been answered, passions would have remained mere fantasies, music would have never been written, parties would have never been attended, and a distinct percentage of tears would have never run from my eyes only to carom into my mouth and bring on insatiable thirst.
Without what used to drive me, I may not have left the house at all.
But there they sit--a graduated set of weights on the big scale in my life.
They hang in the balance waiting, hoping to return to a place closer to the table, to a level they once knew well, to a time when high up in the air sat the other plate with only the most token weights rolling around on their bottom-heavy beveled edges wondering if they will ever be more than a just a reference measure.
But the thing is, while my recent acquisitions may be short on numbers and brief on tenure, they hold more substance and merit than the grandest blandishment which got me my way, the heartiest laugh that I can only remember from its soreness, the most pleasant pain from a split lip sustained from an opponent's last feeble punch, the greatest risk ever randomly survived by luck, and the saltiest tear that ever poured from my eye unnecessarily.
These recent advancements--the ones earned without what used to drive me--they weigh more regardless of their scarcity.
And what's more, what they are made of will never dissipate, evaporate, rust, crystallize, shatter, spill, smear, or decompose.
They will do none of these things because what they are made of is what I am made of. And when I am gone from this earth, my music, my words, and my reputation will be all that anyone need know of me ...
... and the heaviest metal on earth cannot compete with what I am about to accomplish.
Thanks for reading.