I was as shocked as anyone when I read of Whitney Houston's passing. It always breaks my heart to see a someone who has changed a major aspect of the world we live in-in this case the music industry- fizzle out in such a tragic, wasteful manner. When the news spread of her demise, I was contacted by several people, all of them checking to see how I took the news. I haven't heard anything from Whitney for several years, not since she did that diva-cut-throat duet with Mariah Carey for the Prince of Egypt soundtrack. Why should she mean so much to me? Let me tell you the story of how this soulful chartreuse taught me an important life lesson:
Whitney brought me out of my shell. Well, actually, I never had one. But she was a great facilitator for my spotlight-ophile tendencies. When I was in the fifth grade, my older sisters decided I was going to run for student body Vice President. I don't know why. I don't know whether they wanted to watch me make a fool of myself, or if they were truly interested in my political success, but whatever their motivation was, I did not disappointment them. My campaign was run with the usual shmoozing and propaganda- I passed out buttons with pictures of the muppets, all them endorsing me as a upstanding, powerful leader. One who would be a force for change, and liberate the oppressed on the playground. Down with cafeteria food! More Recess!
When it came down to the wire, and I had to make a case for my election, my sisters thought it would be a brilliant idea to stuff me in a fluffy eyesore of a ball gown, belt out a tune, and promise that upon election, I would never again sing to my voters. The line from from Whitney's song "The Greatest Love of All" where she defiantly announces that "no matter what they take from me, they can't take away my dignity" seemed most appropriate for my exhibition.You better believe I took the stage in that multi layered pepto-bismal monstrousity and belted out that song with everything I had in me. It was filmed and projected on every T.V screen in the school. The canidacy was mine.
The rest of the election is irrelevant to this post; instead of giving a speech, I performed a rap rewritten from Will's Smith' famous Fresh Prince of Bel Aire with all my thug friends me behind as background dancers. I went on win the election and ruled with justice and mercy, making such impactful decisions such as redesigning the school logo and awarding to spirit stick to the best behaved class after assemblies.
No, for this post, the importance of this song is the case in point. This song continued to fill me with warm and fuzzy memories. When I sang it for the school, I did it as a joke; it was many years before I actually listened to the words and understood the message Whitney so expressively shared. Beyond the extreme drama of Whitney's vocal pyrotechnics is a plea for us all to build up the future generation and teach them that they are capable of any and everything. No one has the right to dictate our futures, or has the ability to squelch our full potential.Whitney's untimely death has come at a time of great reflection for me. I have now finished my program at the Vet Tech Institute of Houston. It has been the hardest thing I've ever done. This past year and half has been the loneliest, darkest, most frightening time in my life. But it has also been a time when as I have been stretched to my absolute limit, I came to learn that the cheese-ball mormon anecdote posted in Relief Society rooms across the world applied to me too: I can do hard things.
There is a problem, though. In this song, Whitney sings " I never found anyone who could fill my needs. A lonely place to be, and so I learned to depend on me." This cynical declaration is just dripping with disappointment. Somebody needs to tell good 'ol Whitney that she's got it wrong. Self reliance is a wonderful value, and is necessary for fulfillment, but perhaps the most major life lesson I've learned in my time in Houston is that no man (or woman) is an island. I came out here to prove to myself that I could be an independent adult. Instead, I was socked with a series of events that brought me to my knees and I found myself in a position where I never needed people more. Through others I found the manifestation of the love of Jesus Christ. That is the greatest love of all. I am sorry that Whitney never felt that she had people in her life who cherished her and would do anything for her well-being, because I have. My time in Houston has introduced me to some of the most noble souls I've ever known. Because they loved me, I can love me. I have done what I set out to do, and now I'm looking my future in the face, knowing that I can succeed, simply because the Lord has told me so.