I first posted this piece on July 7, 2009 - the day of Michael Jackson's funeral. As today marks the second anniversary of his passing, all of the feelings I about his life - and death - resurfaced and I chose to share them again.
A local Hollywood Entertainment Industry Venue asked me to blog a social commentary as Michael Jackson's Memorial was aired.
Here is what I wrote:
I sit here bawling, heartbroken and bereft as I watch Michael Jackson’s memorial service.
I was a teen in the 80’s and as we all do, have memories to which much of Michael’s music is the soundtrack.
I was not a diehard fan. I had no posters, owned no albums, yet I was moved to dance and sing, laugh and cry with Michael’s music and work. I knew nearly every lyric of nearly every song. For as far from me and as mysterious to me as Michael was, he touched my life. He affected my world. And now – he is gone.
Everyone’s arrival, presence and departure from this world, has meaning and reason.
Michael in all his work – in song, in dance, in movies, on stage, through charitable acts and donations, through friendship, through his very presence in our lives – had much to teach us.
His words called us all into public service as well as private personal reflection. He called us to look at ourselves and examine who we are. He sang ‘Look at the Man in the Mirror’ – see who you are and who you need to be. He encouraged an end to violence, a love of all mankind.
I realize that as much as it is vastly emotional to witness the loss for so many more closely touched by Michael’s passing, and as much as a major part of my own history is about to be laid to rest, I realize what is really the truth about what makes me sad.
I am deeply mourning lost childhoods, lost innocence, foundations carved by parents that mold who we are till the day we die.
I watch a father – Joe Jackson – be comforted – this same father who used to tell Michael that he had a ‘big nose’ and we watched, as a result, Michael whittle away at his appearance not to seek his father’s approval but to whittle away how his father’s words made him feel. While we will never know details, we can see the impact of his childhood as we sat mystified by Michael’s perpetual efforts to live in a never ending childhood – a true Neverland. He was neither juvenile nor immature. He was consciously offering love, fun, comfort, unity, and peace to everyone because he knew so deeply what the lack of all of those essential basics, can do to a person. He never wanted anyone who he could possibly reach – be it with music or money – to ever lack what is the most important ingredient in life – true unconditional love. He was subconsciously trying desperately to find the same for himself.
I watched Michael’s daughter in the last moments of the memorial bravely take the microphone and say how from the moment she was born he was the best father and that he always loved her and she loves him. More proof before our eyes how intrinsic and vital is unconditional love and acceptance in our formative childhood years. She is a lucky girl to be so securely sound in her father’s love despite her current loss. His love will be with her in every moment of her life.
It brings home the magnitude of the importance of how we parent our children…and ourselves.
Renowned poetess, Maya Angelou wrote a poem for Michael which was read today by Queen Latifah. One of the most poignant lines of this beautiful farewell blessing to Michael was: “Now we know that we know nothing”. We constantly seek answers in this life. Some sought answers about the mystifying life of Michael Jackson. Many of us – most of us – but yet still not enough of us seek answers about our own lives. Hoping that answers for the past will bring purpose and possibility for the future. In the finality of death we find the very truth of these words – now we know that we know nothing. Ignoring, justifying, rationalizing away the truth of the past does not build a foundation for our future. At some point – hopefully way prior to when death leaves us no more venues from which to seek answers – we must realize that truly we do know nothing. It is not for us to excuse wrong doings of others to us, but it IS ours to acknowledge our pain, our wounds, and to build our own foundations. Hiding from such realities only handicaps us and leaves us tormented and in pain, as it did Michael.
Despite his anguish and inner demons, Michael embraced his gift and universal love and created beauty and joy, and generously shared it with as many as he could.
Financial guru, Suze Orman commented today via Twitter during MJ’s memorial “I really hope when we are gone, we really can feel all the love that others have for us that perhaps was not expressed when we are alive.” That is a sweet sentiment, but watching the outpouring of love for Michael now that he has passed makes me wonder – were each and every one of these people this adoring of Michael prior to his death? Did they allow speculation of negative facts to cloud their adoration of him? Did they allow the (alleged) negative to negate and erase in their minds all of the positive that Michael gave to each of us and to the world at large? With the finality of his death, could they now freely adore him again, as he was no longer alive to be judged?
Michael always said he wanted to be thought of as a person, not as a personality. He so deeply sought the acceptance of who HE was as a person. He knew and felt the love of his fans and friends and some of his family. Yet that void created by the lack of acceptance, the sadly very narrow and conditional love of his father, persisted in Michael all of his days. He escaped into his music; he escaped into his gift; he escaped in trying to make others happy, to save them from the inner loneliness he himself suffered from.
But even Michael Jackson could not escape.
He changed his appearance and yet inside he was still the same. A loving, amazingly gifted man, whose eyes never changed as the rest of his appearance did; Eyes that were filled with love, hope – and pain.
Brooke Shields mentioned in her eulogy of Michael that a part of what bonded them in mutual understanding and friendship was that they “needed to be an adult too early”. As a result, in his adulthood, Michael still sought the innocence, joy, and love found in childhood.
Doesn’t this make any of us sit up and realize what we must each be doing in our day to day lives? Not ignoring what has been our lives thus far. Nor using a shaky or broken foundation as an excuse to be sad, miserable or unfulfilled in our current lives. Not trying to be what others expect us to be for as Brooke Shields said about comments made regarding her ‘odd couple’ friendship with Michael, “what seems odd on the outside, can be very real on the inside”.
Let Michael’s life teach us by some of the examples he set for us. As the Reverend Al Sharpton remembered Michael – He did not let others decide his boundaries. He never stopped dreaming. He never stopped working to create his dreams for the world. He out-performed the pessimists and naysayers. He out-sang his pain.
Let Michael’s death teach us that we cannot wait; that we don’t have endless time to create the life we want, to be with our loved ones, to make our dreams reality.
“My goal in life is to give to the world what I was lucky to receive; the ecstasy of divine union through my music and my dance”, said Michael many times. He used his gift. He followed his bliss. He found his connection to that which is greater. He knew that indeed – “We ARE the world” – it is in our hands to treat ourselves and others as must be for a peaceful loving existence and humanity. Michael was a man who gave more than he received, always responding to family and friends’ loving statements, “I love you more”. Michael gave to others what he himself never received – unconditional love and acceptance. He truly embodied the quote Brooke recited from childhood classic, The Little Prince: “Eyes are blind, you must look with your heart. What is most important is invisible.”
Maybe I am rambling far off topic as I try to find meaning in such loss and pain.
Does it matter? Be it what we are supposed to do with all life puts before us, or be it a personal exercise that helps us cope with this massive loss in our culture and world – either way let us learn something here.
From his life – use your gifts, use your gifts as YOU feel they should be used, love limitlessly, see beauty and grace in every person, try and try and then try again to heal yourself, don’t take no for an answer, don’t let skin color, childhood, pain, naysayers or above all else fear – stop you – not ever. Your present, and your future depend on what you do NOW, not on your past. The world depends on each of us to love ourselves and each other.
From his death – learn that time may be infinite but OUR time is indeed all too limited, that we get no notice of when it is going to end, and when we get a clue that our time on this earth or with a loved one is coming to a close, it is STILL not enough time, so don’t waste a second. What do you fear more – what keeps you from your dreams now, or forever losing the chance to have those dreams become your reality? Learn that pain and fear can indeed kill you – it can wreck havoc on your physical body, and rob your emotional and spiritual self of sanity and peace.
Don’t live Michael’s life – just be sure to truly and full and authentically live yours.
Above all else – do not die Michael’s death – loved, successful, and yet still in pain and torment.
And Michael – may you now find the peace you always yearned for. Rest in peace…and….We love you MORE.