Whitney Houston.

Dead at age 48.



Did we need yet another reminder that life is short, unpredictable and sometimes cruel?




Is it also tragic?

Certainly, this is a very sad day, and it is tragic for Whitney, her family and closest friends. Age 48 is much too young for anyone to die. Is it more tragic when a megastar dies? I’ll leave that answer to your own judgment.


While evaluation of talent, beauty and charisma are all informed by subjectivity, Whitney Houston was so stunning in both looks and musical talent that it is practically a fact to say that she had one of the greatest voices ever recorded. Musical talent abounded in her family…hey, the regal Aretha Franklin was her godmother…and Whitney Houston’s talent, most would say, eclipsed them all. Her talent may have eclipsed every other female recording artist. Ever. She was good enough to be in that conversation.


A former model, she was gorgeous and was that rare person—star or otherwise—who could be categorized as both wholesome and sexy. As for charisma, she had tons of that “it” factor as well.


In the end, and indeed, even in the middle of her life, all those gifts plus enough fame, adulation and wealth for dozens of lifetimes were not nearly enough to guarantee her a happy, or long, life.


As for her personal life, I never as much as met her or saw her perform live, and while it is easy enough to construct a narrative out of her interesting (tragic?) choice of spouse and a life that often resembled a train wreck, what did I, or we, really know about her?


We live in an age where every single thing that every single person does (or does not do) seems to play itself out in the public eye. With all that, it seems like we know less about one another than we ever did.



In the end, we have her remarkable recordings, videos and movies to keep her memory and legend alive.


As for the tragedy of her leaving the world at age 48, some will mourn her loss more than me—some less. From a distance, I was a fan of her, and through it all, she seemed to be a good person. Yes, Whitney seemed to be a good person who made her share of mistakes and had her share (perhaps more) of heartache as well.


But, how many good people never even get 48 years on this planet? How many never received even a small percentage of her god-given gifts or even a scintilla of the vast beauty, talent, wealth, fame and adulation as she did?



It is not insensitivity or indifference to her passing that produces these words. It is the realization that we are only given a finite amount of time to live, enjoy, love one another and pursue our dreams. Of course, we don’t know just how finite our time is.



Hopefully, this is yet another reminder to use our time, talents and energy wisely, and to pursue dreams that if realized—even if only in part—will contribute to a better world.


Whitney Houston’s own magnificent voice moved us for more than half of her limited years on this planet. Her legacy lives on.


May all of us continue to pursue our own dreams with passion—and allow others to do the same. For however many days, months, years and decades remain, let that guide our own lives and inform our own legacies.


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