We Love You, Michael

Thursday July 9, 2009

“I love you more.” Those words expressed by Michael to his brother Marlon in response to Marlon’s “I love you,” I believe capture the prolific life and tragic death of Michael Joseph Jackson.

On stage, he was commanding. Off stage, he was fragile. In his element, he was dominant, the best --- ever. Among us, he was delicate, a tough entertainer, yet a tender man, forever with a child’s heart. His strengths were his weaknesses. His family, friends and fans loved him, but he loved them more, and that proved to be his undoing.

Many of us mimic Michael. We find joy in the joy of others. He took it further. He lived for the joy of others. Our happiness was his delight. That is the view I left with when I experienced his live concert, some years ago. As the crowd from the rear inched closer to the stage and swelled near the front, virtually rendering irrelevant my expensive, premium seats, security pressed them back. Michael intervened, imploring security to “Let them have fun.” They did, and --- they did --- and I sincerely believe we got a better performance because he knew he had lifted loads from so many that night, if only for a while. Yet, the benefits he could deliver to others, through his song, dance and uncontested artistry, caused the burdens he carried much of his life.

Imagine watching cartoons on Saturday morning, and you are the central character. Consider a regimen, from the very dawn of your existence that disallows simple pleasures, casually shopping, visiting the local movie theater, a night out on the town. Visualize if you will, having the money to obtain all of the luxuries you want, while never having the lavishness of life that is free, rolling in the grass in an open field, gazing upon clear, blue skies from a park bench, uncaringly strolling along the road, any road, talking for hours under a street light. His impenetrable bubble, made so due to the wickedness that enveloped him --- distrustful, disloyal, dishonest, self seeking people --- became both a shield and a shelter, and in the end, a shackle that squeezed from him his joy and took from him his life.

Michael was dissimilar, different. But, that’s what made him special. He lived his life in sacrifice so that millions of us might live our lives in pride. His reflection, the man in the mirror, inspired him on to help us make that change. Try as he might, there were some, however, he could not change. He was the good, surrounded by the bad and the ugly. His smile, it seems, was the mask for his sadness. His gentle ways unveiled a brittle being. We should have loved him more. He gave us so much, and we took it for granted.

During his funeral, the commentators inquired, wondering if, among the remaining family, one would emerge to assume Michael’s throne, “The King of Pop.” His daughter took to the stage and stepped to the microphone. Unlike Michael when he took to the stage, at her age, she could not gather herself to speak very long before falling into the arms of Janet. Perhaps his shadow is too long for another to assume. That may be best. It is important to love others, maybe even more than they love you. But, it is more important to love yourself more than you love others.

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