Breakdowns echoes the self-destruction of many business, celebrity and political elite in recent times, including sporting greats Lance Armstrong and Oscar Pistorius.
My motto has always been “What drives you can drive you over the edge”, as we saw in the 1980s, with many of our corporate leaders self-destructing, going to heaven or going to jail. One even told me if a heart attack was the price to pay then “I will pay it gladly”. He died young. My father, sadly, had the same philosophy, and met the same fate at 57.
It’s all too dear to my heart, not only because of the family trauma, but also because I’ve followed the same behaviour with the same outcome; which I jokingly refer to as my “nervous breakthrough” before I took leave and moved to Byron Bay for a few years to recover. Seeing Buswell and others of his ilk described as “brilliant but flawed” annoys me. Human beings are all flawed, damaged, fearful, shocked every day afresh by the cruelty of the world, but most people don’t do crazy stuff.
Acting out in destructive ways belongs to those who lose the capacity for rational thought, or lose empathy and compassion to themselves and others, caught up in the craving for recognition or some other desperate need, with a grandiosity or drug/alcohol intake, that drives the body at superhuman rates until “snap”.
When I expressed worry about an obsessive high-achiever recently, his brother said to me: “He’s as strong as an ox, he’ll outlive all of us.” Probably not. He’s overweight, and smokes and drinks to self-medicate. A lethal combo.
The matter has arisen again for me, working on a new project obsessively. “It’s the labour of love,” I say to friends. My daughter stopped me other day. “What do you mean ‘love’? You don’t look out the window at a tree; and you don’t talk to us.”
I went out and looked at the ocean surrounding my house, and my heart filled with blissful contentment. I realised again that there’s a sharp divide between being creative and being driven.
Creativity and loving one’s vocation — be it sport, acting or business — means nurturing the budding shoots, and the relationships that support creativity (people who can hold up a mirror).
We’re told Buswell was surrounded by high-achievers who “protected” his behaviour. No surprises there. One needs friends who love life more than they love success.
Or rather, as my current series Total Success in Inquirer attests, achievers who value love, family, health and spirituality. The ten pins keep falling. This time I’m not going to be one of them.