Monday, July 6, 2009

Leave Him Alone: Michael Jackson's Impact on Popular Culture

Michael Jackson’s death stunned me.  I received an email from a Facebook friend stating that he was being transported to a hospital and to pray for him.  My curiosity got the best of me.  I headed to the Internet and found out before it was announced that he had passed away.  I didn’t want to believe that he died.  I was even more alarmed by my response to his death.  I never met Michael Jackson.  I never went to a concert.  I realized that his death was so painful because I felt a part of my childhood was going away.

Michael Jackson’s music has been around all of my life.  As a 38-year-old woman, Michael’s music has been played in my home since I was a child.  I remember having a crush on his beautiful brown face hoping that I could one day marry the young man on the cover of the “Off the Wall” album.  I remember when MTV premiered “Thriller” and I watched it as a teen dazed by the dance sequence.  I was never successful in learning the routine but I gave it my all!  His music spanned to my adulthood and I have passed this on to my 8-year-old daughter who is fascinated with the same videos and music I love.  In her short life, she was exposed to that same music I grew up with and will tell everyone how she loves the Thriller video and especially his song, Rock With You.  His music has been a timeline of my life…I’ve grown from a girl to a woman listening, dancing and having fun to his tunes.

I am also saddened by his death because one of the greatest icons of our lifetime is a reminder to the fate we will all face.  No matter how much money or fame we accomplish in our lives, we all will leave this earth.  Michael has created a legacy in entertainment that will exist for years to come.  His death has created an opportunity for all of us to reflect.  What legacy are we leaving to those who are coming behind us?  The last couple of days of being inundated with his music and memories have also made me more aware of this journey we all travel.  Even though we are all on different paths, we all experience the desire to be loved.  We all crave for acceptance.  We all desire to feel as if we have value.  My grandmother use to say “give me my flowers while I’m alive”.  I know Michael Jackson would be so pleased to embrace the outpouring of love and tributes he’s receiving now.  Sadly, he received more ridicule and was the butt of several jokes.  I have to admit that I was even guilty of doing so.  His questionable behavior was a direct link to his inability to experience a childhood and some sense of normalcy.  His music was a way of seeking what he apparently missed. 

  There are several lessons I’ve learned from this.  I have to plan for tomorrow today.  It is unfair to my family and friends to deal with grief and at the same time address the aftermath and finalize business matters.  No one knows the day or time that we will leave this planet.  Just as we prepare to live, we must prepare to die.  Secondly, I might not have people all over the world crying for me when I do leave the planet but what will my circle of influence do as a result?  Will I be a person they remember as one who made a difference or one who took more than I gave?  Will the world be a little bit better because I was here?  I realize that I need to tell people I value them and what they mean to me.  Michael can’t appreciate the praise now. 

  I feel most for his kids.  Losing a parent at any age is devastating but in your formative years, it is unimaginable.  I have friends who have lost their parents young and that loss changed them completely.  I hope that we all hug our children and loved ones more. They need to know our love for them now instead of seeking it from sources that might be more damaging than helpful.   We never know if this is the last time we’ll ever see them again. 

I remember his song, “Leave Me Alone”.  I’m glad that he won’t have to be bothered any more. I pray that he is at peace.  I hope that he is finally receiving the completeness he so desperately sought here.

1 comment:

  1. I cannot believe what I have just read. We haven't seen each other since 8th grade, you and I, and I tell you, you have expressed every emotion I myself experienced today. I went to see Michael in concert when I was 9 years old and although I barely caught a glimpse of him on stage, I felt as though he was singing only to me. I feel the same as you. I'm grateful that my 17 year old son and 13 year old daughter learned of his genius and appreciated it before his death.