Whitney Houston dead at 48, another in a long line of talented performers dead before her time. Media reports speculate that it may be months before the actual cause of death is released. It could have been a tragic accident, people do fall in bathrooms but the reports do not seem to be promoting this theory.
If it was not a freak accident then why?
Is it another case, as some are reporting of a talented singer unable to handle the stresses of success? Did the loneliness of being at the summit of her career get to her? We will probably never know, but it raises the question of why the lives of comparatively many successful artists and others in the spotlight, like sports stars, end prematurely.
Is a pre-disposition to substance abuse or other types of self-destructive behaviour part of what makes stars successful? Is it the dark side of the character traits of dedication, perseverance, un-relenting commitment to perform at one’s best. The strength needed to overcome shyness and the fear of performing before an audience. A dependency on public adulation from throngs of adoring fans?
Or is it more simple than that?
Is it a case of too much success at an early age, with the rewards and temptations associated with it, just being too much for even the most well-balanced amongst us to handle? We all tend to think that we would behave more sensibly in similar situations, but the evidence of what happens to the majority of “ordinary” people winning fortunes on the lottery or inheriting large sums shows the opposite. The majority blow through their new-found fortunes within a short time, often abandoning life-long spouses and friends in the process and ending up worse off financially and emotionally than before.
I suspect it is a combination of both, it takes a certain type of person to reach the pinnacle of success as a performer which may exaggerate some of the weaknesses we all have. Until we are put to the same test we will never know how we would react to the same pressures and temptations, history shows many of us would not score much better.
What does this all mean to us mere mortals?
Firstly balance, success is important, but true success means surviving the journey with our relationships and integrity intact. Being able to sleep at night without needing medication or alcohol to quieten the demons.
It also means that we should be careful what we wish for, make sure the goals we set are our own goals, not the ones that sound good or that others think we should strive for.
I am not a great music fan, can probably only recognise the voices of less than a dozen singers, but Whitney Houston was one of them. What a loss of a great talent.
Wishing you success in all your endeavours (and the wisdom to survive and enjoy them.)