“The problem with binge-watching on Netflix is that you lose three days of your life.”
– Harland Williams
I woke up and looked at my cell phone, it was almost 8 P.M and I’d slept for 16 hours straight. Also, there was a message: “You wanna go out tonite?”
As I recall it was a Monday or Tuesday. Since I was out of work and had nothing better to do I put on some clothes, shaved and went out the door.
We went to a local bar, got drunk and played some black jack & roulette. I’d set a budget of 1500 SEK ($200) for the week. Half of it was gone in less than 1 hour.
After playing for a little bit more we pooled our money and bet on 23 & 26 at the roulette table. It hit 26. We were set for the evening and some more.
We walked away from the table and after a round of shots decided it’d be a good idea to head to Stockholm and “Casino Cosmopol”.
About an hour later we were outside composing ourselves so we didn’t get denied entry because of, well, being plastered.
We hit the tables and slot machines for a couple of hours. It seemed like our lucky night. We left the establishment pleased as punch at having more money than when we came in.
It was about 3 A.M but we didn’t want the party to end. I mean, this was probably the most fun we’d had in 3 years. We went down to McDonald’s by the central station and approached a dealer.
Went back up the stairs and took a couple of bumps by the church before catching the night bus home.
Well, it didn’t end there. Fueled by coke & alcohol we spent an entire day locked up in a rehearsal room/studio writing & recording songs we thought were kick-ass. They weren’t. They really weren’t.
The second day the supplies were dwindling and we started to come down.
The third day we hit the city again but I felt so awful that I cut it short.
As I lay in bed that night I started hallucinating. I saw a head floating around the room. I knew what it was but it was still freaky as hell. After that night I decided that I’d never do anything like that ever again.
About 6 months and a couple of relapses later I was done. I moved to Stockholm over the summer and with some help & support cleaned up my life.
I was lucky. This wasn’t the story for everyone.
The reason I got to thinking about this was because last week I saw “Straight Outta Compton” and binged Netflix’s new series “Narcos“.
My favorite series bar none is “Miami Vice”. I grew up on it. Everything about it was so cool. The music, the cars, the setting, the clothes, the action. It was just awesome.
As a kid the only people who I ever saw who were successful and respected in my hometown were athletes (Björn Borg, for example) & criminals (won’t name names).
While my parents instilled a sense of what was right and wrong they weren’t exactly rich nor all that respected. Atleast not in comparison.
Since I’d tried sports and wasn’t any good I started looking at the possibilities of music. In parallel I got exposed to drugs and various illegal activities.
I found that lifestyle exciting, but I wanted to keep it at a certain distance. I’d seen plenty of fantastic examples of how badly it could go.
As I was binging “Narcos” I got that same feeling I got when I watched “Miami Vice”, when I played “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City” or when I saw the documentary “Cocaine Cowboys”.
By the way, watch those “Cocaine Cowboys” documentaries if you get the chance. Plenty of life lessons about what not to do.
Also, that documentary gives you another perspective since they totally missed to include Griselda Blanco in “Narcos”. By most accounts she was way worse than Pablo Escobar. Apparently Catherine Zeta-Jones is going to play her in the upcoming biopic “The Godmother“.
What surprised me was the realization that “Narcos” gave me a taste of the same feeling I got when I stole, when I used drugs and or the time when I had my life threatened by a counterfeiter.
However, the key thing was that I always got away with it. I don’t know how, but I did.
That’s was what I admired about all of these stories. How people could disobey the law, make a shitload of cash and get away with it. The ones who didn’t? Well, they weren’t around to tell their side of the story.
I was lucky enough to realize that it wasn’t the kind of life I wanted and since nobody else seemed to be stopping it, I had to do it myself.
When I finally got out of it and started looking back at all the shit I’d gotten away with I felt grateful. But at the same time I felt sad. I could see the bigger picture.
What I’d actually done was to hurt a lot of people. Both directly by my actions but also by putting money in the hands of people who went on to hurt others.
It’s easy to think: “Well, if it wasn’t you then it would’ve been someone else.”
But that’s a lazy excuse.
Something that became even more apparent after watching the entire season of “Narcos”.
It only focused on a few aspects of a much wider story. But my own experiences coupled with watching documentaries and reading several books gives me a different perspective.
The proverbial straw came as I was listening to “Michael Jordan: The Life”. Growing up this guy was my idol, not only for his prowess on the court but also the inspirational things he said.
Apparently a couple of his teammates during his first year with the Chicago Bulls had issues with cocaine abuse. Something that would end careers and, in some cases, lives.
It became clear. From the poorest of neighborhoods to the most luxurious estates money can buy. Noone is immune.
What might’ve started out as a way to make a quick buck in Colombia quickly turned into a billion dollar industry. It didn’t just affect a few lives, the effects rippled across the globe.
While plenty of good people did try do something, it still reminds me of how many of us, myself included, chose to look the other way.
This quote usually attributed to Edmund Burke sums it up pretty well:
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
It was a Friday about a month ago and I was sitting on a bench waiting, listening to music and smiling when two guys approached me.
“Hey, you look like you’re having a good time.”, one of them said with a smile.
“Sure am. How are you guys doing?”, I asked sensing what was coming next.
“Alright, you know…”, he said while his friend looked around nervously.
Before he could continue I said:
“Cool, what can I do for you?”
They looked antsy and asked:
“You got any party favors?”
I let out a sigh and said:
“Well, do you…?”, I’d been through this before and no, I couldn’t call anyone to help him score anything.
“No. Look guys, I’m not interested. But you have a nice evening now, alright?”
I smiled, shook his hand and gently pushed his body towards the direction of the stairs as if to say “Move along, nothing to see here.”
About half an hour later I was having dinner with a beautiful woman and cracking stupid jokes.
Life was good.
Thinking back now two things come to mind.
I wish that I could go back and tell that kid breaking into a garage how that’s affecting other people’s lives. And let him know that he isn’t the “bad kid” he’s telling himself he is. There are so many great things he can do, he just needs to trust that he’s good enough.
Also, I want to go back to that moment and take the 15 minutes before she arrived to tell those two guys what I’ve come to understand.
For more visit: http://mimiandeunice.com/
To explain what every single person from Pablo and Griselda down the chain to the person about snort it or take a hit from the pipe could’ve done.
How the effects of what these two guys were about to do would send ripples across so many lives they didn’t even know about.
That if they chose not to do that then they’d be part of changing the story just a little bit instead of perpetuating it.
Maybe they wouldn’t have cared but maybe I could’ve planted a seed.
Unfortunately this time instead of facing my past I chose to look away and as a result potentially robbed someone else of an opportunity of doing something better with their lives.
I’m not ashamed of the past and while I do feel guilty for all those things there might be something I can do now to help people by sharing these experiences.
Take a look at your own experiences and see if there are any dark places you’ve visited that could be of use to the people you’re trying to help today.
And if you get the chance to help?
Have kick-ass ₢eative day!