I'm not a fan. I'm certainly not any kind of celebrity hobbyist. In fact, I find the whole concept of celebrity degrading to the human spirit, a surrender of our own value to what we're seeing as someone else's higher value just because they work in some public forum. So why did a little bit of my heart break today when I saw a news item that Lindsay Lohan got picked up again, this time for both DUI and coke possession?
There's a great lesson I learned from a friend some time back, and maybe that's part of the reason I'm saddened by Lohan, and maybe a little angry at her too, the way you get angry at someone, even someone you don't know, for exercising their right to waste something precious. In the case of my friend, she took an extended trip way too far down into the depths of substance abuse, including alcohol, nearly lost her life, did lose her job, and almost her whole career too, with a hefty portion of humiliation thrown in for good measure. My friend is a lady of some means, and when she told me she'd tried all the well-known rehab programs, she was serious and was referring to the ones we've all read about. None, she said, did her any good. One day, years ago, she put aside the coddling feel-good centers and walked into the local AA meeting, and through their guidance and her own on-going hard work, has been clean and sober and wonderfully alive ever since.
Back before he lost his show for making one too many mistakes of his own, Don Imus - himself a successfully recovering alcoholic and cocaine user - used to say that it didn't matter how long you were in recovery. You spend the rest of your life one drink away from being a drunk.
Earlier today I read a story in the local paper about a young man, an 18 year old honors student, who was killed over the weekend on a local highway when the car he was driving plowed into a concrete divider. The cause is still being investigated so no details are known, or at least none have been released. I realized while reading the story that the details of the accident don't even matter. If it turns out he was killed because he made some stupid mistake, well, 18 year olds make stupid mistakes. I sure did, many worse than whatever this young man might have done, if that's even what happened to him. The same is probably true for most people reading this. The biggest difference is our luck, yours and mine, held out, and his didn't. Hardly something I'd hoist myself up on a righteous pedestal for.
Back to Lindsay. This is not some middle-aged booze hound, or a dumb-as-a-fox con artist (cough-cough-AnnaNicole-cough-cough). This is a 21 year old woman with a full life and brilliant career in front of her, if she lives long enough to see it. At 47 I know little enough about life now; I knew even less at 21, or 18. Among all those folks earning their livings from Lindsay Lohan, isn't there one willing to tell her the truth in terms that will get through to her?
I hope so. I really do.