Boulevard of Broken Dreams


“Dream as if you’ll live forever…Live as if you’ll die today”. Elvis, Marilyn, Bogie and James Dean share their common tales in this classic Diner scene painted by Helnwein.

Anna Nicole Smith 1967-2007
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This week Anna Nicole Smith has entered the diner on the “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”. She joins with those whose shining stars where quickly snuffed out at the prime of their lives and perhaps their careers. All had chosen similar paths into this abyss of loneliness and dispare. Though some could say they ought to be admired for their great success, I would have to wonder if, given the chance to do over again, they would trade it all for one moment of freedom from this their glass prison?

This Helnwein picture is a parody of the more famous Edward Hopper’s painting “Nighthawks”. In it we see the lives of lonely souls played out against the stark blackness of a New York City Street. Encased in glass and put on display before passersby and onlookers who see them as surreal yet; to those trapped inside this glass diner, they are all too human.

Smith could best be expressed in the words from the title of the soon to be published ‘tell-all’ entitled “Train Wreck: Anna Nicole Smith Unauthorized”. The silver screen is busting with celebrity train wrecks like Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears and the Simpson sisters – we simply shake our heads and cluck our tongues as we walk by.

Perhaps its time we take a moment and pause, stop star gazing and start feeling the pain of those heading for the “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”. Instead of being onlookers and passersby maybe it is time we stop, look, and listen to what these broken hearts are trying to say. Somebody should consider reaching out a helping hand to heal and to save.

The tragedy here seems to be that somehow, someone could have saved her. Why didn’t anyone – the men who are contesting the paternity of her baby girl, her mother, the tell-all sister – step in and do something?

In the words of A. E. Housman we read:

THE laws of God, the laws of man,

He may keep that will and can;
Not I: let God and man decree
Laws for themselves and not for me;
And if my ways are not as theirs
Let them mind their own affairs.
Their deeds I judge and much condemn,
Yet when did I make laws for them?
Please yourselves, say I , and they
Need only look the other way.
But no, they will not; they must still
Wrest their neighbour to their will,
And make me dance as they desire
With jail and gallows and hell-fire.
And how am I to face the odds
Of man’s bedevilment and God’s?
I, a stranger and afraid
In a world I never made.
They will be master, right or wrong;
Though both are foolish, both are strong.
And since, my soul, we cannot fly
To Saturn nor to Mercury,
Keep we must, if keep we can,
These foreign laws of God and man.
A.E. Housman

In the words of Jeremiah the prophet we read:

Jeremiah 15:5&6

Thus says the Lord: Cursed [with great evil] is the strong man who trusts in and relies on frail man, making weak [human] flesh his arm, and whose mind and heart turn aside from the Lord.

For he shall be like a shrub or a person naked and destitute in the desert; and he shall not see any good come, but shall dwell in the parched places in the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.

Putting one’s trust in anything other than the Lord God sets our feet in the direction of the “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” which end is sure and predetermined. The place of emptiness and wanting. The road to barrenness and pain. The boulevard of unfilled dreams and desires. Always reaching and striving but never finding that which satisfies the thirst inside. Nothing grows in the salt land, there is no nourishment to be found in the parched wilderness. Drinking from empty cups behind a glass case eternally with no visible means of escape. The road to nowhere always starts out looking like a super highway. Following the bright lights will lead you into a dark place. The only way to avoid the “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” is to walk in a different path being led by the light of God’s word rather than the lure of this world’s riches.

Anna immersed herself in every fleshly indulgence in hopes of fulfilling the fairy tale happy ever after ending she so sought for. She perhaps thought her blonde beauty would bring with it untold admiration and a prince charming only to wake up at the end of it all in that forgotten place of broken promises and hopelessness known as “The Boulevard of Broken Dreams”.

Like Marilyn before her, and I am sure of countless others sure to follow, she too found out that fairy tales never really do come true. Only those who put their hope and trust in a living God will find the pot of gold at the end of live’s rainbow.

Jeremiah 15:11

Like the partridge that gathers a brood which she did not hatch and sits on eggs which she has not laid, so is he who gets riches by unjust means and not by right. He will leave them, or they will leave him, in the midst of his days, and at his end he will be a fool.

Only the lonely lost and foolish walk that “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” I pray that you are not one of them.

Like those who have gone before let them be examples to those who come behind. There is a far better way. Choose the road less traveled. Pick the way that leads to fulfillment in God. Let us look again at the words of Jeremiah in that same chapter beginning at the very next verse.

Jeremiah 15:7&8

[Most] blessed is the man who believes in, trusts in, and relies on the Lord, and whose hope and confidence the Lord is.

For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters that spreads out its roots by the river; and it shall not see and fear when heat comes; but its leaf shall be green. It shall not be anxious and full of care in the year of drought, nor shall it cease yielding fruit.

Like Marilyn before her, and I am sure of countless others sure to follow, Anna Nicole Smith found out that fairy tales never really do come true. Only those who put their hope and trust in a living God will find streets paved with gold at the end of life’s journey.

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