From the world of opium, we get our expression “pipe dream.” The idea behind the expression is that the situation you are imagining in your mind is so fantastic that it could never happen. Because the situation could never happen in reality, you are limited to enjoying it only in fantasy. The opium pipe would allow you the opportunity to explore in fantasy the dream that could never be a reality. Hence, the term pipe dream.
Surely, a year ago we would have relegated Michael Phelps’ dream of 8 gold medals to the status of pipe dream. Now, that dream is a reality. But the reality of that which seemed only a dream has now been dashed by a pipe–not an opium pipe, of course, but a marijuana pipe. Phelps undoubtedly regrets now whatever fantasy was in his mind while his face was in that pipe.
My concern is not related to the “piling on” excuses or indictments related to Michael Phelps; that work has already been overdone. All I want is to ponder the questions C. J. Mahaney asks, “So what was Phelps searching for in that bong pipe? What emptiness in his soul was he trying to satisfy?” What was the dream he was seeking in that pipe and why has it become a nightmare?