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  • Kathryn R. Biel

The Hottest Stars Burn Out the Fastest

I was so shocked to learn last night about the death of Whitney Houston.  Now, it's partly not really a surprise, given her on-going battle with drugs, but it was still shocking, seeming to come out of no where.  It is a terrible waste.  All that God-given talent, gone.  A 19 year old who now has to navigate the world without her mother.  

I often lament the fact that I have no great talent.  I have minimal to moderate talents in lots of areas, but no one area where I really stand out.  Jack of all trades, master of none.  But, after hearing about Whitney Houston's death, sometimes I wonder if having a great talent is more of a burden than a gift.  It seems over and over that these people who are so incredibly talented and gifted in one area and grossly lacking in other areas.  This leaves them essentially incapable of functioning in real life.  Most often, they rely on excesses (speed, alcohol, drugs) to attempt to balance themselves out.  Their great talents are then wasted, essentially flushed down the toilet.  James Dean, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Hank Williams, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, Layne Staley, Chris Farley, Michael Jackson, Heath Ledger, Amy Winehouse and now Whitney Houston.  There are many, many others I could name.  I often wonder if my brother-in-law, who was an aspiring artist, also fits in this category. 

It seems so unfair that so many so talented who can do so many great things can not figure out how to put one foot in front of the other and just live life.

Whitney Houston was the first concert I ever went to. My Aunt Cate took me, in August 1987, to see her at Saratoga Performing Arts Center.  I was 11. We had lawn seats.  It had rained during the day, and we were unsure if we were still going.  I remember being disappointed that she was not in some sophisticated ball gown, instead performing in jeans and a leather coat.  It was a great show, and Aunt Cate gave me her Whitney Houston cassette tape afterwards.  Another exciting aspect was that Whitney used her performance at SPAC for her video for "Didn't We Almost Have It All."   Looking back, the song title now seems sadly fitting.

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