Good week everybody! It was a particularly good week for me that passed by on account of the fact that it’s been raining cats and dogs all week. Why? Because it’s cooled the whole place down from the soaring temperatures of the previous weeks. My work doesn’t suffer as I leave the house at five am when there’s little traffic to return at eleven at night. Sadly the week was coloured in no small measure by the demise of a great personality I’d admired from childhood, Michael Jackson.
My tribute to him would be to try to relate how he affected me on a personal level starting from my childhood days when the Billie Jean video came out. His moves in it were incredible and everyone in my school tried as much as possible to enact it including me to the utter irritation of my parents. I ruined so many of my dad’s jackets and trench coats – he refused to get me the leather jackets he was famed for. Funny enough, quite unlike him, my dad never punished us, my brothers and I, for depleting his wardrobe for such ‘trivial’ pursuits. We’d steal my mother’s powder, talcum, dusting – all sorts, take off to school, pour them liberally on the classroom floor and begin practicing the moonwalk, the backslide (as we called it then) and the helicopter. For a not so good dancer as I was then – still struggling -, the talcum proved invaluable for making floors mirror smooth and shiny, making my slides and spins. I make bold to say I can still my own today when it comes to the backslide and the moonwalk although I never could get beyond one and a half spins before finishing up in that tiptoe standstill pose he ended his routine with in the video. Ah, those were the days.
His energy and belief with which he sang always sent me to subliminal levels when I listened to his songs especially Dirty Diana, Beat it and Earth Song. At first I sort of hated him because he was just too good looking and had the most wonderful smile. I think it was because I felt so threatened that he’d get all the pretty girls; it didn’t matter that we’d probably never be in direct competition with one another. Actually I was justified in my animosity towards him because all the girls in my school were going gaga over him – not a good boost to my self esteem. It was therefore with shock, and relief, that I welcomed his 1987 album BAD; he looked so different! Gone was that characteristic chocolate complexion that accentuated that dazzling smile and in its place was this very pale almost unrecognizable caricature of the former. My initial elation was quickly replaced by the concern that the music of this incredible man would follow the stark metamorphosis of his physical looks. The Dirty Diana video proved me wrong. The raw energy that emanated from that waiflike body was astounding! I watched mesmerized as MJ strutted and whirled in perfect unison with the psychedelic wailing of the lead guitar. I didn’t move a muscle, I just sat there drinking in every iota of energy that was coming out of him and observed how he abandoned himself completely to his music. I knew I probably would never be able to sing like him but I stored that passion in my heart promising myself to someday, as only a shy person could, even if it was just once, express myself without inhibition for all the world to see. His music became a safety net or should I say a compass that sort of guided me along the path to relentlessly pursue truth through passion and belief and I think that made me the unwavering follower I was, and still am, through his many controversies.
Personally, I don’t think Michael ever grew older than twelve throughout his life. The kid that was never allowed to play and do all the things that children do to be able to make the transition into adulthood never left him and I think that was what made him live the “Peter Pan- like” life that he did. It was because of this that I never really believed his love songs like, "You Are Not Alone" or "You Rock My World."
I didn’t because I didn’t believe he knew what really loving a woman as a partner meant. I knew how I felt about girls when I was in my childhood. They were the most irritating beings to be with; they loved flowers, talked all day about stupid things like love, wanted you to hold their hands and sing silly songs like “Bobby Shaftoe’s gone to sea” and one had to behave himself around them. All I wanted was play with my toys, ride bikes and dream of racing cars. I could see that aversion towards the opposite sex, for the same reasons, in Michael throughout his life. I admired the resolute and level headed way he talked when he answered his critics and accusers. He never faltered in his convictions and stood firm in the midst of the numerous accusations and slurs, and they were legion, that dogged his life. He believed absolutely in everything he did and that for me is the mark of a great man.
I believe that life is too short to be influenced by what people think of you. I believe that one should carefully consider what mission one has to accomplish in this world and look to what talent one has to bring it to effect. Having found this, I believe that the one should pursue it to the utmost while living life to the full. One should also be able to learn from mistakes and be brave enough to continually assess his or her intrinsic motives and mental progress. Adieu Michael Jackson, may you finally find the peace you’ve long sought for. Have a great week everyone.