I hear the accolades, I hear the tributes, and now I hear of the possible arrest of “drug pushers”. I guess the story line that I am really waiting to hear, is the action taken by his friends who watched and did not take drastic, dramatic and demonstrative actions on his behalf. Perhaps they did act decisively and vigorously to his “obvious” decline over time; which is why I am waiting for that part of the story. We have truly entered the age of “non-confrontational” friendships. A twisted form of “live and let live”. A criteria for friendship should be that we don’t have a false peace that allows you to engage in self-destructive behavior, while I watch. And then there is something twisted and shameful in the way our society can watch (and sometime cheer) as “celebrated personalities” engage in self- destructive behavior. The society becomes just another member of the entourage. I will never forget the words Mike Tyson once offered in an interview; he said that one day (in the height of his fame), he looked at some people who had been in his entourage for months (living the “good life” at his expense) and he realized that he had no knowledge of who these people were; in fact, he didn’t even know their names! There must be some people in your life who like and love you, for you; not for what brings public adulation; for the person you really are; off of the stage. Clearly, despite his professional success this man was in some great psychological pain; a pain that worldly praise could not heal. But who knew, and who cared? “Public people”, are simply people, when they are “off-stage”; that means that they are subject to all of the doubts, insecurities and angst that challenges the peace in all of our lives. Applause and awards are wonderful; but in this life you need friends as opposed to fans; friends who will go to great lengths to keep you safe and alive. Finally, talent, skills and creativity no matter how creative, is in my view always in danger of destroying its host; that is, if that “gifted person” is not tethered to a spiritual rational and purpose for expressing their expertise. We are all, the publicly celebrated, and the un-celebrated, awarded a gift and talent at birth; but the meaning for that gift of a gift can only be found in understanding of the divine “Gift-givers” calling on your life. The gift is not in the strictest sense, only for you. Rather, it is a gift that you must return; as your unique contribution, in service to the world. This thought, this appreciation, wrapped in a faith understanding; alone could strengthened the will to live.