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Wayne Post
  • Suzette Martinez Standing: Whitney Houston’s last lesson

  • Whitney Houston. Closure comes at last now it is official that her death was accidental. At 48, she drowned in a bathtub, with heart disease and chronic cocaine use as factors. She’s gone home, and I am left to ponder the last lesson from her all-too-brief and gifted life.

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  • Whitney Houston. Closure comes at last now it is official that her death was accidental. At 48, she drowned in a bathtub, with heart disease and chronic cocaine use as factors. She’s gone home, and I am left to ponder the last lesson from her all-too-brief and gifted life.
    If I come away with anything, it is that fame is painful. It’s overwhelming to have. It’s crushing to maintain. Houston wasn’t the only celebrity pursued by badgers carrying mikes and cameras, with claws extended. It’s a daily slash and burn of the soul.
    Substance abuse is not my cross to bear, but I could understand how a chemical escape is seductive to those who stagger under grinding demands, schedules and torments that public expectation brings. How does anyone safely sail the treacherous, shark-infested waters of celebrity?
    Soon after Houston’s death, legendary producer and composer Quincy Jones had a profound insight about what it takes to survive fame. You can’t rely on anything or anyone, only your own spiritual foundation. A spiritual support system has to be mighty strong to withstand the torments of so-called adulation. One's talent may be real, but fame is an illusion. The temptation is to fall away from, neglect, or even abuse the very gift that first put you in the spotlight.
    That is how I interpreted Jones’ remarks on Feb. 13, 2011, two days after Houston’s death. He appeared on “CBS This Morning” and said, “You have to have humility with the creativity, and grace with the success. When you get up there, and you go from a person nobody knows, and they say, ‘There goes Michael Jackson or there goes Whitney Houston,’ you have to be very prepared spiritually to know how to deal with that, and take it in the right way, and not think it’s normal and realize that you’re still a terminal for a higher power. You have to have that attitude.”
    Jones met Houston at the age of 16 when she first spread her wings as a singing prodigy. Later she soared to the summit of the music industry, and Jones always knew she was special.
    “When you have it, it’s like God left his hand on your shoulder longer than everybody else. She had something that came down from deep down. It was a combination of amazing emotion, but also the instrument that can deliver that emotion, because it has to be the transportation of that emotion,” Jones said during the CBS interview. He added that there is balance to found in the care and training of one’s God-given gift, and the expression of that talent.
    Balance. One doesn’t have to be a mega-star to need that. However, it does beg an examination of choices. Am I applying yes or no wisely in my life?
    Page 2 of 2 - First Corinthians 6:12 reads, “I have the right to do anything, you say – but not everything is beneficial. I have the right to do anything – but I will not be mastered by anything.”
    Whitney Houston’s gone home. Her voice was a terminal for a higher power. For me, the last lesson of her life is that the greater the gift, the larger the stumbling blocks to stay true to one’s purpose. Fame is a high-wire act, and a strong spiritual foundation is the only safety net.
    Email Suzette Standring at suzmar@comcast.net. She is syndicated with GateHouse News Service and produced a guided imagery relaxation and creativity CD, “Suzette Standring: A Writer’s Meditation CD,” available only on her website, www.readsuzette.com.
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