thoughts on Whitney Houston’s death

Whitney Houston (from creative commons, wikipedia)

I like being ordinary. When I was younger, I wanted to be famous. I wanted to act, dance, write, host a talk show, be on TV. (Okay, yes, I did these things, but not in a big way. When I was younger, I was frustrated with my lack of fame; but lately I’m happy I never hit it big. I could never have withstood the attention.)

I don’t know whether to blame Whitney’s death (or Michael Jackson’s or Amy Winehouse’s or Elvis’s or you name them) on our f’ed up culture that elevates celebrity and then loves to watch our elevated gods plummet. Or maybe I should blame the pervasiveness of drugs and alcohol in pop culture. Or better yet, let’s acknowledge the reality that drug and alcohol addictions are diseases — diseases that inevitably and eventually kill people if left untreated. The best treatment is the one that includes 12 steps and anonymity (the exact opposite of celebrity!)

As a society, we need to get in the habit of finding heroes in our real lives, not in movies, fan magazines, or political parties. Then, let’s build each other up — don’t put each other down or delight in anyone’s demise.

Our outpouring of love for people who’ve died from addiction is too late. Yet every person has the potential to heal from diseases of addiction.

If someone you know needs healing from a disease of addiction, tell them, write to them, let them know that their illness can be treated; that they can get better. This is hard to do. Do we ever tell people we worry about their drinking? I rarely do. When I have had those conversations, it’s been very hard. I’ve needed to detach with love. Give people their dignity. Give them their choice — the choice to recover is always there. Making that choice as a public person must be extremely difficult.

Yet life’s difficult journeys are the ones we learn and grow the most from. The difficult times are the moments that teach us to be real and to love one another. That is, at least, what I tell myself. Me, someone ordinary, not someone famous, but someone who is alive and happy and grateful for each new day.