Like very many others I was very saddened to read that Whitney Houston died today, and that we’ve lost a major singing talent, albeit not as she once was. She died in her 49th year, which can be a turning point for many, and I’ve often noticed how people leave at that time. She was important for me not just for her excellent singing and all those songs I used play in my car on the long journeys I once did. She also helped unwittingly to contribute to the emergence of a new phase in my life.
For me she most represented a phase of re-awakening during which I used to play over and over again her rendering of The Greatest Love of All. One thing that had stood out for me from all the personal development work I was doing at the time was the need to learn to love myself. At the time that was a concept for which I heard the words but didn’t get it. How did you love yourself and what was that like? Like many others, I had grown up with a very negative view of myself, which I tried hard to conceal from the world, and had finally confronted and embarked on a journey to know the real me. Part of that involved loving the self I was discovering.
Of course Whitney wasn’t the only contribution to that process, but I recall playing the track over and over and noticing how I reacted inside when I heard the words “I found the greatest love of all inside of me…Learning to love yourself, it is the greatest love of all“. And the song ends with her singing that if you find yourself in a lonely place, “find your strength in love.” I can’t repeat often enough how important I believe those words are.
One might think that those sentiments don’t seem to accord with her own life, but, hey, we’re human and we screw up. Sometimes our shadow jumps out to bite us. It’s to be compassionate and also to see beyond whatever challenges a person might be going through to what they teach us, and for me this teaching of her’s stands out.
Whatever we need to learn, we will find a way to hear it, and it may come from a song, and then it might come from some words in a book, and then some chance words you overhear as you pass by some others, and then the headlines on the news, and some inner voice speaking to you. It’ll be coming to us when we’re ready for it. The point is to be open to listen and to receive the wisdoms so freely given and to notice the resonance with our own process.
Whitney played her part in that and I thank her for that, and for her service to so very many people. God bless her.