At 48 years old Whitney Houston, the owner of a very fine voice, was found dead in a hotel in Beverley Hills. The world tweeted their condolences and then the jokes started coming.
…Whitney Houston, to star in her new film ‘The Bodybag’
… Houston, we no longer have a problem.
…Whitney Houston won an impressive 6 Grammys in 14 years. Less impressive was her recent attempt at 6 grams in 14 minutes.
Yes, no mention of Whitney could be complete without her very public love affair with drugs. In these cases, we are often divided between condemning someone for drug abuse and sympathizing with the stress of fame. The latest star to fall down will inevitably have us shaking out heads as we recall Marilyn, Jimi and Jim among others. What is almost a universal truth is that we consider it a waste and often don’t understand why people with everything life has to offer, choose instead to destroy it. Of course that doesn’t only go for celebrities.
‘I’ve got the stuff that you want, I’ve got the thing that you need.’ -Queen of the Night, Whitney Houston
So what is this need that people try to fill with drugs? My guess is freedom. People need to be free – of the identity which doesn’t suit them, of this bounded reality, of their strictly repressive upbringings (Oh Whitney, as a former alter girl I really sympathize!), of what they perceive as the stifling norms of society – be it a marriage, a state of monogamy, or the corporate 9-5 workplace (my personal favorite). The awful irony of freedom, is that if you try to achieve it through more ‘artificial’ means like money or drugs, you probably won’t recognize it because you’re searching in the wrong place.
Being free is a journey of mental and spiritual growth (in some cultures it includes drugs…but not drug abuse). In that sense it is rarely a destination (or at least only for the most enlightened of us–not me). It is our path to travel and our learning in this world. It is what we all seek. But without the beautiful journey it takes to get there, your false idol expectations will only lead to your undoing.
Whilst I didn’t know Whitney, I do know about the desire to escape one’s own life. Drugs of all types – whilst providing freedom and oblivion which can be temporarily stimulating, exciting and comforting (drugs aren’t all bad and I’m not the hypocrite who condemns them) – are in no way a shortcut. And the slam back down to an internal prison will be all the more difficult after taking them. The despair at finding yourself trapped once again, may well incite you to take more. And that’s when the abuse starts.
Article first published on Technorati 13/02/2012