Singer Amy Winehouse died this weekend at the age of 27. Her creative talent and music were both wonderful and tragic at the same time. How ironic and prescient that someone who continually battled deadly addictions will be best remembered for her biggest song, “Rehab,” about how she refused to stay in rehab. Talk about life and art converging.

Having learned of Amy Winehouse’s death Saturday on Google+ (which is perhaps the start of a shift away from learning about celebrity deaths on Twitter), I shared the news with the comment, “Talent isn’t always visited upon those who are prepared for it.”

In today’s society where widely recognized creative talent seems to be equated with everything that’s valued, it got me thinking about an important reminder:

There are many characteristics we associate with creative talent which, in reality, have no correlation to it.

These characteristics include:

  • Psychological stability
  • Broad intelligence
  • Goodness
  • Beauty
  • Love
  • Respect
  • Education
  • Fame

All you have to do is go through a quick mental inventory of celebrities we’ve seen rise and fall in the past decades to confirm this truism. Yet, it’s all too natural for us to link creative talent with these favorable personality traits and skills which simply aren’t related.

I really enjoyed Amy Winehouse’s music. And Kurt Cobain’s. Yet the public adulation for their creative talents was not only not enough to save them, an inability to deal with adulation may have been a significant part of the early demises each of them faced.

So for as much as creative talents can make us feel full of life, today, unfortunately, feels pretty hollow.  - Mike Brown