Note – I’ve written this blog post as a personal reflection. There was no intention of hurting anyone’s feelings. The love and respect I have for both these women is immeasurable.
Watching documentaries on Princess Diana & Whitney Houston left me with many questions and some answers…
On the eve of Princess Diana’s 21st death anniversary, I found myself watching The Story Of Diana. This documentary on her life beautifully captures an innocent girl caught up by circumstances and catapulted onto an overwhelming world stage, which she ultimately learned to use to her advantage. Caught up in Diana nostalgia, I then watched the film Diana, which captures her loneliness and romantic angst.
Right after that, as happens on streaming platforms nowadays, I meandered into the film Whitney : Can I Be Me? This film is a poignant look at vignettes of popular American singer Whitney Houston’s remarkable rise to fame and the sudden collapse of the dream – with the familiar tragic sequence of unhappiness, drugs, and disaster.
No comparison between the two ladies, but there were many common questions that rose to my mind. How could such iconic women have been so unhappy and lonely? Money, talent, fame, success, family – they had it all; what then was missing? Does fame inevitably bring disaster in its wake, or did they make some wrong moves that changed the trajectory of their charmed lives? Or, was it the fault of people they surrounded themselves with? Had they known the results, would they have made the same choices all over again?
Whitney says in the documentary, “Success doesn’t change you. Fame does… There is this misconception that when we become famous, we have these beautiful, perfect lives and nothing is ever low… Fame doesn’t make you happy. You have to find happiness within yourself before you step into this business because if you’re trying to find it here, you probably wind up being somebody else – someone probably you don’t even like…”
In Diana’s documentary, historian Dr. Amanda Foreman says of Princess Diana towards the end of the film, “Through a long and painful journey that took her to some very dark places, she ultimately came out the other side and became a confident, directed, controlled woman who had agency, autonomy, and authority : those three things that every modern woman needs.”
Diana managed to turn adversity into opportunity as she stepped away from the shackles of family and institution, and stepped out into the world as People’s Princess. Free to do as she pleased now, she took to social causes with all her spirit and being. She had finally got grip on life and an idea of the direction she wanted it to take. From here, the world should’ve been her oyster, but a cruel Fate snuffed a promising Life too early.
A very interesting observation in the Whitney film is when in a conversation between the singer and an interviewer, it is said, “Constant reaffirmation of character is important all through life. One should keep trying to reform oneself.” To this Whitney says, “That’s what I keep doing. I am always trying to improve myself.”
And those are very important messages from someone who actually got it all wrong herself, ending up alone and dead in her hotel bath-tub after an overdose of drugs. Whitney was unable to do what the Princess managed – walk away from the mess and dig within for strength and light. rebuilding life once again.
It’s sad that in the end both of their lives ended in such a horrific manner.
The lesson I learned…
…from these women is that there are no right and wrong choices. Life happens as it happens. Your talent and inner light inexorably find their place in the sun. But you cannot allow yourself to be distracted by the trappings of fame – good or bad. You just need to keep looking within and moving on towards the purpose of your life. Life has to be a constant reaffirmation of character and an inner quest for happiness and purpose. Always be the best version of yourself you ever have been – an ongoing process.
“Can I Be Me?” This is what Whitney plaintively asked those around her repeatedly. Maybe she shouldn’t have asked; just done it. Like Princess Diana, who was a living embodiment of a woman who refused to be anyone but herself. Again, I’m no one to judge.
Perhaps I should’ve titled this as – YOU CANNOT BE ANYONE BUT YOU.
Thank you for reading. Love you for that!
—–Have Hope.Keep Faith—–
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ECLIPSEDWORDS BY AISHWARYA SHAH | SEPTEMBER’2018 | ALL RIGHTS RESERVED ©