I’m sitting here in my hotel in the Galapagos and listening to The Orb’s “Beyond Ultraworld”, from way back in the freakin early 90’s. They came out just before I started poppin’ the ould pills, them being ecstasy pills…double doves, speckled doves, Christmas crackers and the like.
There was innocence about me back in the nineties- drinks, drugs and the rest besides.
Although in reality I was no role model, it may have seemed like it from the outside.
I was a typical Jock, as the Sceptic Tanks like to call them – the school football captain, full of confidence and able to spell my first name AND my surname.
Happy days indeed.
I was on the Dublin Minor GAA team and had been touted as going pro in soccer world. Life was rosey.
I still had trouble staying on the straight and narrow.
I remember one day during the summer, I had started some kind of teenage romance with a nice girl from Sutton. A group of us headed up to Howth and took a boat over to Irelands Eye. We went running around the place Lord of the Flies style, before settling down on the coast in soft fern grass, to drink cans and hold hands with our women.
We were as happy as young teenage lads can be drinking on an Island with women at our side for pleasure.
The only issue for me was that I had Dublin Minor Training that evening. While this may seem like no big deal to the non GAA people, let me tell you that turning up drunk to county training was akin to shooting a puppy. You might do it, but no one will talk to you for a long time after.
I suppose I was weak. Weak with desires to fit in, have fun and be with a pretty girl. Sure I was only third choice keeper at the time.
Boom, there goes the trigger.
I think I had a six pack or so. Not the heaviest amount of drink ever, but we did have a few spliffs too. I was buzzing getting the boat back home and slightly out of it when I got training.
Luckily enough it was a fitness session….lots of running and that meant you could hide….so I did. I stayed in the packs and stumbled around and got through it and I remember thinking afterwards “that wasn’t so hard”.
That became the story of my life for some time.
I was no role model at all. Even when I got to my College years I had developed a serious hash addiction, if that’s what you want to call it. I loved smoking the ould wacky tabaccy and studying English and Philosophy, it certainly helped understand some of the loftier concepts.
But I was still playing football, at a high level. While I never went training drunk again, stoned was a different matter. I smoked every day and trained nearly every day. You can figure out the rest yourself.
But anyone would tell you I was the most dedicated trainer who gave 100%. I busted my balls as hard as anyone to be the best I could when I was training.
But the reality was that I was only giving about 60/70% of myself.
It is sad really. This is a sad story, because I could have been better. I could have been a champion. I could have been an ultimate winning machine.
But I am flawed. I was flawed.
I suffered from some kind of bullshit peer pressure desire to be involved. I suffered from a desire to be part of the crew. I did not know what true dedication was. You see here is the deal; here is what it all boils down to
Anyone can drink and take drugs. ANYONE. But only some people have gifts in sport or creative talents. And if you do not sacrifice and dedicate and be single minded in your application to yourself, then you will never have really given it 100%. And when you find yourself in ten or fifteen years on an Island in the Pacific wondering where it all went wrong – you will wonder why you made the decisions you did.
So ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls I have this advice to offer you.
If you are talented at something and you love it, do everything in your power to make that your life. Do everything in your power to be the best at it.
Be relentless, be ruthless and be dedicated – be the person who people say is crazy and has no life.
Because at the end of the day, there is no “real” life, other than what you create. There is no reality which exists, other than what you want.
You must be patient too. You teens and twenties are as good as it gets, Your thirties are married, flabby and balding. Your forties are even more married, flabby and balding. And that’s just the ladies!
You can always get the drinking and the rest in when you hit the late 20’s early 30’s, if you still feel the need.
Give yourself the chance to be the best you can, when you have it all in front of you.