My Name Is Peter

Some Thoughts on Some Things

Oh, Health Insurance

September 22nd, 2009


I am sorry I haven’t written for a while. Things have been really crazy in Peter’s world these past couple of weeks…

But I wanted to write about something I saw this week that really struck me. I DVR’d Oprah’s interview with Whitney Houston, which aired Monday and Tuesday… in case you live on Mars and didn’t happen to see the ads.

At first, I have to admit, I tuned in, as my friend Amy used to say, for the same reason people slow down on the freeway to look at a car crash. It was more of a morbid fascination than a genuine interest in what had kept Whitney away for seven years. And from the tone of the ads, you would have thought Oprah was boarding the space shuttle to fly to the moon to interview Whitney. Thus, my curiosity was piqued.

The first day, I was sort of stunned by Whitney’s candor. I mean, she really went for it, leaving very little to the imagination. She described the train wreck that her life became in vivid detail. And whenever anything was unclear, Oprah translated and filled in the gaps. It was incredibly uncomfortable for me to watch someone I had grown to know and love as one of the most poised, graceful and dignified entertainers of all time truly bare her soul with no holds barred on national television.

It was not until the second interview that I could actually appreciate what she was saying. It was then that I began to see the icon we call WHITNEY HOUSTON as a human being. Not the slick media creation of the 80’s and 90’s. Not the cartoon caricature we witnessed on Being Bobby Brown. Just a very real human being who was doing the best she could to pull her life together after coming to terms with addiction and an abusive marriage.

I realized that it is very easy for us as human beings to stand in judgment of others – especially someone as seemingly inaccessible as Whitney Houston. “How could she destroy herself like that?” we asked. “If I could sing like that and had that much money and fame, I would never let that happen to me. Her life was so perfect, and she just threw it all away,” we told ourselves.

And yet, Whitney described a very different reality. A reality in which her life was never her own, and the pressures of being WHITNEY HOUSTON became nearly unbearable. A reality in which the more success she achieved, the more intimated, afraid, and unworthy she felt. A reality in which her husband’s insecurity and envy drove her to sacrifice herself for his security. And ultimately a world in which she felt very much alone and isolated, no longer sure of who she was and therefore no longer able to express herself.

Watching Whitney talk about her life, I was surprised to find that I truly identified with her on a human level. I finally saw that each of us, no matter who we are, must achieve a state of balance in our own lives, no matter what our circumstances. If we are not prepared for what life throws our way – even if it is extraordinary, mind-boggling success – than we are in for a bumpy ride. For so many us, drugs and alcohol became a way of dealing with a life that was out of balance. For others, shopping, gambling, or even work can serve as unhealthy counterweights to the crazy seesaws we ride everyday.

We all need friends in whom we can confide. We all need to find some form of spirituality that brings us a sense of peace as well as nourishes our soul. We all need to find ways to love ourselves a little more everyday. And we all need to develop a sense of individual purpose along with a sense that we are of service in the world. These, in my experience, are the basics of achieving balance in one’s life. Without these basics, we are forced to find destructive alternatives to numb ourselves. But when we live our lives holding these tenets sacred, the road before us remains full of hope and promise.

One of my favorites: