I have been wanting to get this off my chest for a few days now. Michael Jackson was a big creative influence on me as a child. I wanted so badly to be famous and emulate his success. Growing up, I was a music and stage prodigy in my small midwestern town and held tightly to the desperate dreams of world stardom. I told my mother at the age of 5 that I would someday move to LA and be a movie star.
Our generation was fed dreams of Michael Jackson meets Michael Jordan fame and stardom for breakfast. It’s what compelled many of us to push our way into the world and a promise the world could never keep (remember Fight Club?). I ate Wheaties for breakfast, moonwalked across the linoleum kitchen floor in my gym socks and begged my parents for a pair of Air Jordans. Hollywood beckoned.
So now that the ‘King of Pop’ has passed and I find myself in the beginning of my middle years it is hard not to take it in and ask, ‘where is all of this going’? Is fame worth the price paid? And even if it is, what does achieving it accomplish. Yes, there is the obvious. This is a given. You gain access. Access to a world that few people experience. You get to sleep in a room with a 30 foot high ceiling. You can board a private flight to your villa in Paris anytime you feel the urge. You can eat or drink or inject anything you can think of. This much is true and indisputable. There is a genuine and compelling draw there. But after all of the gold dust settles, what are you left with? The desire to genuinely love and be loved? The need to feel fulfilled and experience a sense of purpose? Does fame and fortune provide these things?
News is breaking today that Michael Jackson was an insomniac. I battled insomnia as a child, maybe it is some kind of strange creative curse. He was also spending somewhere between 48,000 to 100,000 on prescription drugs. Yes, that might be overstated hype, but even if it is one-fifth of that amount, that is a lot of drugs. What was he drowning out? Why couldn’t he rest? He had reached the very top. What did he see from that vantage point that all of us think we wish we could see? Maybe a climb to the top only reveals the same mountain range we all face in a clearer view. I don’t know. But I do know he was a tortured man. You can derive that from just the heresay.
So have we been fed a lie? Is fame bullshit? I think it is. Where is our culture and our society heading if we pour all of our hopes into singular individuals at the behest of the masses? When will we begin to usher in the era of societal awareness where we acknowledge that each of us is in fact, an absolute conclusive fact, a citizen of the Earth. How can you feel fulfillment or purpose when the carrot is dangled just far enough out that not only can you never reach it, so that if you actually do the effort will corrupt and destroy you.
When will we have enough of this? I think there is a natural limit to things that we are usurping. This race that we are engaged in does not account for the wasted human potential that we are shedding everyday. Balance and a sense of purpose cannot be attained in a society that lifts it’s entertainers to the level of God while promising it’s teachers, scientists, fathers, mothers, workers, engineers, architects and designers IOUs. It’s a bald faced lie that is making the pursuit feel worthless. We are on a wheel that is spinning and not going forward. There are outer limits to every structure and we have reached the wall in our capitalist pursuits. What about our souls?
After all his fame and fortune, Michael Jackson wanted what we all want. He wanted to be loved. He wanted to be a father. He wanted to shop for groceries and feel like he brought home food for his family. He wanted friends. He wanted to be understood and appreciated for who he really was. He wanted to rest peacefully at the end of the day knowing and feeling these things. After all that access and all of that wealth, he still craved for the simplest of things.
That is something to think about. And it is a reason to wonder if there isn’t another way of living, loving and sharing that we are denying ourselves in this modern society. Maybe it is time for a change. We have had our share of empty promises. Isn’t it time for grander pursuits and an acknowledgement for our worldly responsibilities to our fellow man? Fame is about an individual, and that leaves everyone but 1 person out of the picture. But this world still has room for all of us, and we are all still very much in the picture.
There is something about all of this that bothers me and sometimes keeps me up at night. And that feeling is always in the back of my mind and just won’t go away. I hope Michael Jackson found someone who really did know him. I hope his children loved him for who he really was. I hope he rests now in true peace where he is finally free from the bonds of a confused and misled public.
I hope that we one day turn away from this flawed deceitful pursuit and turn inward to find the core of our spirit and uncover the true reason that each of us chose to come here to inhabit the space we have been allotted on the third planet from the sun.