Monday, June 29, 2009

Michael Jackson's Final Gift to Me

I've spent the last few days living on YouTube, watching Michael Jackson videos and Michael Jackson live performances. Reading and re-reading the Los Angeles Times. Glued to CNN. And to my surprise, grieving.

I was a casual fan, at best.

I didn't know Michael Jackson. I never saw him in concert. I only own one Michael Jackson album. (Dangerous, not Thriller.)

But I always liked him, from the time I pointed to the Jackson 5's Greatest Hits album cover, and announced to my mother that when I grew up, I was going to marry Michael Jackson.

Thriller hit when I was in middle school. Michael was everywhere, and like the rest of the world, I was hooked.

Over the years, I read a few different biographies and caught wind of all the unfavorable tabloid fodder. I faithfully tuned in to the Oprah interview, his 1993 "I am not a criminal" avowal of innocence and the dastardly 2003 Martin Bashir interview that ultimately spelled the end of Michael's brilliant career.

I mostly avoided his child-molestation trial, finding the whole thing distasteful and incredibly sad. I couldn't quite bring myself to believe the charges, and true or false, it was a lose-lose situation. If the charges were true, it meant Michael had abused the world's trust and done irreparable harm to his youngest fans. And if the charges weren't true, it meant the world was truly an evil place, where greedy, rapacious vampires could tear a vulnerable and beloved figure to shreds and get away with it.

As I dove head-first into the barrage of coverage over the last few days, I was struck by one thing: that as brilliant as Michael was in so many areas and in so many ways, he lacked true self-awareness.

In his teens and twenties, he wasn't able to look in the mirror and see the good-looking young black man that everyone else saw, and we all know how that lack of awareness turned out.

More telling, he seemed unable to put his childhood in the past where it belonged, centering most of his adult life on reclaiming, reliving and ultimately being consumed by his "lost" childhood.

I guess Michael's final gift to me isn't his music or his otherworldly dance moves or even all the memories of my life that are tied to my memories of him.

It's the realization that self-awareness is a gift that no amount of money can buy. That there's something inherently marvelous in being able to face your demons, push past your past, get over what your parents did or didn't do, and ultimately live a life that includes joy and peace.

I'll never moonwalk or sell 750 million albums, but I can walk in self-awareness.

I wish Michael had been able to do the same.

17 comments:

Lion-ess said...

so true.. it's really sad

Nana said...

I was thinking something similar. Just the other day, I looked at his recent pictures and I tried to see his true self in the modified nose, cheek bones, ghostly skin color. When I look at the 'old' micheal, with the long curls, dark skin, and vivid eyes, I can't help but to think of what could have been. His self hate cobsumed him, I mean, he hated his black features to the point of mutilation. I wonder how it was to wake up & see himself in the mirror, you know? Like, did he find himself good looking, finally? Was he comfortable in his own skin?

mr. nichols said...

Great post, once again. Being thrust into stardom at such an early age stunted his self-awareness, I think. And all he had left was his public image and physical appearance, the shell of his true self. And you can never be truly satisfied with that if you're so lost on the inside.

E.Payne said...

Wow. Way to draw a conclusion. I'm sitting on my Michael Jackson reflections until I have my head around it the right way.

Nice post.

Paula S. said...

I love this post. You have made sense out something so complex and confusing. I can't help but feel saddened for Michael. I always have (even when everyone else was snickering and making fun of him). I just always felt that there was a little lost boy in there and no one seemed to be able to help him. I believe he certainly is a victim of his own fame and everything that goes along with that. I hope he's in a better place now. I really do.

Cerebrally_Orgasmic said...

Nicely done mami..alot to chew on...

Retromus-ik said...

Great post! What is sad is that he was never truly happy. He was lonely, it shows that a succesful career is not necessarily a guarantee that you'll be content. He probably felt as if he couldnt trust anyone, and [it seemed as if]he didnt trust in his own worth neither, hence the body transformations...It's just sad.

manje said...

writting about MJ in a true way~
=)

Anonymous said...

Lovely post. Well said!

Cheron L. Hall said...

I made it! lol...I have read your entire blog in one day...I'm your biggest fan! lol...

Mike will be missed...I had the opportunity to go over the old Jackson family home...what an experience! There will be no one like him...

Marty J. Christopher said...

I haven't really talked about MJ's death to anyone except A.P...it is really sad. And I love what you said about his trial! It was a lose-lose situation, no matter what the truth of the matter is. Nice post.

christine a mayo said...

You put it all in perspective beautifully!love your writings !

terry said...

His gift to me was his brilliance and theremnder to give put your entire soul and being into your craft. I remember the martin bashir interview and have refused to watch him to this day on 20/20. Michael had his own cameras running during the interview and showed what the interveiw was in it entirety apart from the cut and edited "drama" bashir put out.

Queen Lindsay said...

Today was Jackson's memorial service, I cried. I cried about someone that I never knew..it was so strange to me. I think the pain I saw in Michael mirrored pain of my own. You are so right about self awareness. He would probably still be alive if he only knew how special he was. I bet he never would have thought that he made such an impact on all of us. He was trying to win back our praise, trying to make a come back..but the way things look today...he never lost it.

mrstdj said...

Nice post! I like the perspective you put on it. I've yet to pen words regarding MJ and I don't think I will. So many others have already said it best.

sospokesaroj said...

I'm still grieving over MJ, which I guess at this point is slightly pathetic...but I am still a little sad over it nonetheless.

Nice post, as always. I've been so busy lately, I've neglected my blog more than I would have liked. :/

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