Michael Jackson is dead. So sudden, and so wierd - shouldn't really surprise any one I guess...yet I am immensely sad and shocked right now. Just like everyone else, I had become jaded and creeped out by him towards the end. But I think I had separated him into two different people. The Michael of recent years was not the same Michael I grew up worshipping and transfixed by in the 80's and 90's. The one who gave the world so much AMAZING music, paradigm-shifting performances, inspiration, and genuine love. The Philanthropist and soft-spoken activist who transfixed everyone - it didn't matter who you were - with his one-of-a-kind talent. He was a truly gifted performer...often imitated but never equaled.
There's a part of me that always felt like I "knew" him somehow. When I was a kid I swore we were destined to meet one day. Sounds silly maybe, but aside from being the most famous man on earth, there was also the fact that Neverland Ranch was 5 miles away from my house my entire childhood. He was my neighbor ;-) I remember legends of his brief appearances in downtown Solvang and how I would dream of someday seeing him in person. When my mom told me he had come into her store, I hyperventilated at the mere thought! I think there's also something about celebrities from your youth - it affects you so much more when they pass on...something about the innocence of childhood, that we just appreciate them and their talents in a raw and honest way. He is part of so many beautiful memories, and his songs are more than just music - they are like a soundtrack of an entire generation. There was also an intuitive knowing that he was such a sad, lonely, haunted, and pained soul. How could any one be "normal" living such an abnormal life?? He was put to work at age 4, and mentally, emotionally and physically abused by his father. It breaks my heart to see any one who is not allowed a childhood. I am saddened by the dispicable comments I keep reading on the internet about him - a clue into how truly ugly human beings can be. I can only get a sense of the ugliness in people he must have seen and felt in his lifetime. I cry thinking that humanity was his biggest abuser of all. No one will ever know what being Michael Jackson was like except for Michael Jackson, and I just feel immensely sorry for him, and for those closest to him.
Aside from all of that - the truth is that Michael Jackson was a unique and gifted human being like we have rarely seen before. Never will be another like him. Say what you will about his personal life, the man touched people and hit nerves that only he could. He inspired any one who ever saw him perform. The reaction to his death is unprecedented - I am shocked and surprised at the intensity of my own. He was an icon that touched so many souls in a profound way. Today we are all feeling the impact of his loss - even the ones that had forgotten how much they cared. I am mourning his death, but I think I'm also mourning part of that innocent era that I so fondly remember growing up. When symbols of a generation pass on - it strikes a painful chord. I miss the 80's sometimes, and I freak out when I think they were 20+ years ago...seems surreal. Events like this make me feel like I don't fit into this world today. A world without Micheal Jackson seems strange; even stranger than his overly-destructed nose and ghostly white skin of latter years.
I choose to continue remembering the Michael I fell in love with as a child. Sitting here watching his videos and smiling, I remember him at the peak of his fame - before the drama and cruel speculations. I remember when he was speaking out about causes ahead of his time and making positive change in the world before it was a P.R. move. I will always remember his sweet face that brought so much happiness to people as a member of the Jackson 5, feeling a tug at my heart as he showed us how much hunger was out there in the world, and grooving to his timeless songs at every moment of celebration throughout my entire life - which I have no doubt I will continue to do ;-)
A great and talented enetertainer died today, and took with him a piece of my childhood. Rest in Peace Michael, may you find some at last...
Some of my Favorite Michael Jackson Songs:
Man In the Mirror
Don't Stop Til You Get Enough
Another Part of Me
Working Day & Night