This past week we all heard about the tragic death of Whitney Houston. So young, so gifted, what a waste to die at age 48. The news coverage was laden with who was responsible for her untimely death. Was it bad boy Bobby Brown who took the naive young princess and turned her into a wacked out crack head? Was it the music industry more intent on selling records than on the health and welfare of a human being? Or was it Whitney herself who some claim was a “party girl” and merely showing more of her true self as time went on?
The more I heard these questions the more aggravated I became. Until the toxicology reports come back we will not have a definitive answer. But once again this situation sadly shows what the culture in this country has truly become – one of inability for taking personal responsibility. It’s always someone else’s fault, right? The doctors who prescribed the medication, the entourage comprised of “yes” people who let her drink and party, the drug dealers who provided her drugs and on and on until I literally want to puke. In reality if blame must be assigned look no further than Whitney Houston herself.
I attended a transformational training session about six years ago conducted by a man named Ted Willey who wrote the book “The Power of Choice” (a link to this book is at the bottom of this blog). Through laughter and innuendo he held up the mirror to everyone in the room and challenged them to take personal responsibility with a simple statement – “You are the product of the choices you make”, period. Sadly we have forgotten in our society how to be 100% responsible and to take 100% responsibility for our actions. Just break down the pronunciation of word responsible and you will get response “able”. Not response impaired, not response sometimes, but response “able”, able to take full responsibility for whatever choices in life we make. If you choose to eat more calories than you expend you will gain weight, period. It’s not the fast food industry’s fault for not posting nutritional information in its restaurants. You made the conscious choice to put the food in our mouth and not exercise. If you get burned by spilling hot coffee on yourself it’s not McDonalds’ fault for not putting “caution this is hot” on the outside of the coffee cup. You spilled it on yourself and it was hot, period. If you are late for work it’s not because the snow caused a major traffic jam. You made the conscious choice not to leave early enough to get to work on time, period. Plain and simple – we are the product of the choices we make.
Anyone who is an artist is plagued by insecurity and self doubt. Anyone in the Arts knows that to be true. It is one of the major factors that drives people to the Arts in the first place. Through theatre, dance, music, and all other forms, artists can transform themselves, if only for a short while, into something that they believe they are not and could never be. Through performing artists get the adulation and affirmation they seek by often becoming someone that is so far from the core of who they really are. It is both a blessing and a curse. To find a outlet that creates a reality so different from your own self image is a high all onto itself. The downside comes if you continue to question whether you are good enough or talented enough to continually perform at a high caliber. That was probably the downfall of Whitney Houston. To hear Kevin Costner relate how she questioned her talent and beauty when doing a screen test for The Bodyguard was heart wrenching. Her talent was once in a lifetime and her beauty was second to none. Too bad she could not see it or believe it for herself.
But regardless of that, she made the conscious choice to turn to drugs to relieve her pain and insecurities. No one held her mouth open and poured the pills down her throat. No one forced her to inhale cigarette smoke and party well into the night. She was responsible for how she treated her body. It was no one’s fault but her own.