In the days since Whitney’s passing, everyone has shared her music’s impact in their lives. To be completely honest, I do not think I am ready to tackle that. There isn’t enough space or time for me to express how much of my childhood I lost in the bathtub with Whitney.
The magnitude is indescribable. I have been trying to find the words since I learned of her death on Saturday night. But in speaking to others something else resonated with me. As several of my friends and family have recalled singing “The Greatest Love of All” with their classmates in elementary school, I realized that the song is something of a 80’s baby right of passage. It has a special place in all of our hearts, as we all have our own connection to that particular Whitney Houston song.
It has been and always will be one of my favorite. It’s one of those ballads you belt out as a child but do not truly understand until adulthood. And we all have those right? You hear something again as an adult and think “is that was s/he was saying?”
I had that very thought pretty recently. Right in the midst of my quest find my voice as a writer and my place in the world, I heard this song again. It may have been in a retail store or maybe on the radio when they were playing throwbacks. I don’t recall the exact date and time but I remember that the lyrics stopped me. I realized what she was saying and I thought to myself “wow, if only I truly understood that as a child”. What if when we sang that ballad as 10 year olds we could actually comprehend that it isn’t just a pretty song? Learning to love yourself is truly the greatest love. How powerful would that have been?
We could have avoided so many of our hurts, our obstacles, our pain in life. There would be less bullying in schools, less adolescent depression and suicide. Less self-pity. Think about how many times have you’ve gotten in your own way? If only we learned loved ourselves first …way back when Whitney gave us these words.
I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone’s shadows
If I fail, if I succeed
At least I’ll live as I believe
No matter what they take from me
They can’t take away my dignity
Because the greatest love of all
Is happening to me
I found the greatest love of all
Inside of me
The greatest love of all
Is easy to achieve
Learning to love yourself
It is the greatest love of all