If you were in middle or high school in the late 1980's like I was, this album might look familiar to you. We didn't have very many tapes that were the sole province of the children in my family, but this was one. My sister and I used to plug our old boom box into an outdoor outlet on our deck. We would turn the volume all the way up, stand on the opposite side of the yard on an A-frame swingset and play "rock concert." We would fight over who stood on the platform singing, and who had to watch. We weren't very good, and our repertoire wasn't very large, but Ms. Houston was a staple. There is nothing that unleashes your inner diva like singing at the top of your lungs with Whitney Houston (Somewhere, Out There was another favorite!) Perhaps like you, this remarkable and tragic woman has been on my mind somewhat this week. Though, it is probably true that she has been less on my mind than a track from this album. A song titled, "The Greatest Love of All."
Here is the other thing about growing up in the 1980s: the concept of "self-esteem" became an essential part of the post-baby-boom Generation X. It is a thing that has not always served us well as adults, this constant validation as children for simply breathing. Whitney's song teaches us that "learning to love yourself, it is the greatest love of all." Hearing that angel-voice through the radio telling me that children were the future and admonishing my parents to teach me well, and let me lead the way, did a lot for my budding self-esteem.
It is too bad that Ms. Houston maybe never understood her own advice, that her addictions kept her from the self-actualization she tried to bring a generation of children. My generation.
For all that I love that song and that voice and could probably still sing it word for word if I heard it on the radio, I don't actually agree with her. I don't think that self-love is the greatest love. And while it is important, I believe it cannot really be obtained unless we focus on other kinds of love. God-love. Family-love. Other-love. *gulp* Enemy-love. Then, you can, as Whitney Houston reminds us, "find your strength in love."