The Greatest Love of All is Learning to Love Yourself

I watched the Whitney Houston documentary on Netflix yesterday. I cried. A couple of times. Her story is sad, and tragic....

The Greatest Love of All is Learning to Love Yourself

I watched the Whitney Houston documentary on Netflix yesterday. I cried. A couple of times. Her story is sad, and tragic. Obviously I shed some tears for that. Witnessing the rise and fall of one of the most beautiful voices of our time will not leave you undisturbed.

But to be honest, mostly, I cried for me.

Over the years I’ve honed the craft to become inconsolably melancholic in a split second, especially when I’m reminded of my life through my senses: the gentle smell of coffee filling the kitchen from my childhood home, a return visit to the neighborhood I grew up in, or in this case songs I used to play over and over on my Walkman as a 15 year old.

It’s hard to imagine, knowing how much I played those songs, that I’d forgotten about the huge Whitney Houston fan I used to be. And maybe less so about the huge mistake perm I convinced my mom I needed to get in order to fit in at school. Biggest lesson of 1990: hair grows very slowly.

It’s incredible what the mind remembers. It never stops to amaze me. Given the right cues drawers of memories open up to us, giving us a chance to poke our noses into the many moments that make up our pasts. The best part is, we never know what we’re going to get. Or when it’s going to happen!

Like yesterday. As I was settling into the documentary a strange feeling of déjà vu came over me.

I couldn’t quite place it at first, but halfway through the thing it hit me: I’d seen this footage before! Not in another documentary or randomly. No, what I realized was that I was recognizing  what I was seeing.

I always get a bit weird when that happens. I also like it a lot because it brings me into a somewhat altered state of being. Perhaps it happens to you to sometimes too. You’re looking at, reading, or listening to something then all of a sudden you realize you were a witness to it before. You were present during the actual moment of creation of that thing. In other words: you were there!

Coming to this conclusion always brings me back to the limits of my own existence. Which in and of itself is a spiritual experience. That’s why I like it so much. It reminds me of what’s important.

Through the old footage, the inevitable clip from The Bodyguard – I was 17 when that movie came out and totally smitten with Kevin Costner (sadly the romance ended when he grew gills and decided to go live in the ocean) – and the many, many songs…

I remembered.

Who I used to be. My teenage years. The dreams, and goals of a 15 year old. The heartbreak that followed my first love.

The things I stood for, cared about, and believed in before I convinced myself I wasn’t good enough. That I needed to be someone else. I’m not sure it’s a coincidence that the Whitney Houston documentary is called “Can I be me?”. Is there even such a thing as coincidences?

Being taken down memory lane like that has a different effect on me depending on how I stand in my life when it happens.

Often though it will make me wonder: Where have all the years gone? Yesterday was no exception. I asked myself that question. To be honest, I’m not sure. I spent so many of those years trying to please everyone around me, trying to not have the anxious thoughts I had, trying so hard to mold myself into a perfect version of who I thought I needed to be… It’s all a little blurry.

There’s one thing I do know.

When I was 15 I was awake, in love with life.

Then at 35 I woke up again, when I finally remembered that the greatest love of all is learning to love yourself.  

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