The death of Michael Jackson offers all sorts of opportunities for reflection. Why creative genius always seems to come with mental and emotional instability... why an adoring public turns its angels into demons... how events like this seem to bring people together in surprising ways... now the nation's newsrooms must have been scrambling last night to put together retrospectives on such an unexpected occurrence... the price to be paid when heavy expectations are placed on such fragile shoulders....
I'll leave those topics to others. Instead, I'll focus on a personal lesson the events of the past 24 hours have inspired, as ubiquitous tv reports and YouTube links have reacquainted me with Michael Jackson's music.
This is stuff I haven't seen or heard, or even thought about, in years. I'd forgotten how much of it I liked. I'd also forgotten how jaw-dropping his music videos, and especially his 1983 performance at the Motown 25 celebration, were back then. I'm appreciating his work in a way I didn't bother to consider at the time, and refused to consider later, when the weirdness took over.
Too bad he's not here to know that.
Too bad as well he had to die before he could hear all the pundits trampling over each other to praise his talent for the tv cameras. To me, all the strangeness with plastic surgery and kiddie sleepovers suggest some great hole in his soul that might have been filled in some small way with the plaudits his death has elicited. Too late, too bad, so sad.
So where in all this MJ mania is a moment-living lesson worthy of my own little MJ, Mr. James?
It's a reminder to find what joy I can in what's around me... to appreciate the blessings I have but take for granted... and to say what I need to say to the people who matter to me while they're still around to hear it.
A publishing master class
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