Reflecting on the life and death of a formidable artist
ichael Jackson was larger than life. Now that he is gone we look back at all those years with tender eyes and come to the realization that they have passed. When an icon like Michael Jackson dies, a part of my world also dies. I’m sure I’m not alone, as I hear his music blasting from the cars passing by. I see people rushing to buy that great album or see that super video one more time. Everything about Michael is extraordinary.
I remember noticing something special about him and I was only nine. I can remember the notes being so crisp and the tempo exquisitely right. The timbre of his voice and the way he danced; there was something so markedly distinguishable about it. Even though I didn’t know anything as a child I knew there was something special. He then disappeared only to re-emerge in my early twenties with thrilling grooves from hell and his fantastic moves from the moon and the dances that lift the dead from their graves; that was so cool. But for me the best part of the show was to note the catharsis he evoked. Who was this guy anyway?
The truth is that no one knew who the real Michael was unless you were a friend or family. We think we do know him because of what we read on the news but we don’t. He sure left us guessing and this was part of the show. His ambiguity was a terrible dilemma for a lot of fans. We still don’t know if Neverland really existed or was a fantasy created to lure children. Was he a real Peter Pan and we missed? With someone like Michael you could never know.
So many people lived off ridiculing his life. When he suddenly died there was a silence and than a shift in opinion. He was truly acquitted of all charges. No questions asked. The world wants to remember the genius and the bizarre just faded away as if it never really mattered or maybe it wasn’t true after all. The weird became the creative and the fool the free. Death is the great equalizer which puts everything into a new perspective and we realize nothing is permanent and that at any moment we can lose everything and never get it back. What is most important is not his personal life but the phenomena of his popularity and how he made people feel.
I think the fascination with Michael had roots in his duality and ambiguity; sensual yet child like; in control and powerful but innocent. Super rich and famous from an early age but yet a hostage to his own geniality? One has to wonder just why he was so incredibly loved. I like to study his charisma, presence and magnetism. This was a guy who was always surrounded by a very excited large crowd of people no matter where he went. If any given visitor from another planet saw him he would think this guy was the king of the world or somebody very, very important. But he was just a singer and a dancer. There must be some other thing under the hood for a man to reach this level.
I think Michael Jackson’s biggest gift was his ability to connect with his audience in the most intimate level. Maybe a true gift of being present in this very moment few of us have? Maybe this was an ability to inspire and evoke joy and be joyous? I think after all the fascination with Michael wasn’t with him at all but with the fact he made it possible for us to see the creative powers present in all of us. As he danced to the music we realized we could also possess some of the same energy.
Whatever he possessed gave him the chance of enjoying life for in the moment. This moment is now gone and the world moves on and the world is no longer interested in the petty little things about his personal life. Maybe the greatest gift from Michael was to realize that we can be kind to other people right now and we don’t have to wait until they die so we can show that we care for them.
Image credit: Alan Light