It actually took me four days to finish this. Well, here it goes.
Five years ago this past Wednesday, Michael Jackson left us. For me, it was my JFK moment (you know you will always remember where were you when it happened). That comparison may sound strange to some, or almost offensive, but for me, it is a reality. To say I loved and admired Michael Jackson would be an understatement. I know how people feel about his life, the weirdness, and all the accusations, but my feelings stem from the artist that he was.
I have been singing for as long as I can remember. I grew up in a musical home; my mom played organ and piano, and she sang. My dad was a guitarist in a band when he was younger. We always had music in our home, and it made me rather eclectic in my taste. I love so many different types of music- r&b, gospel, jazz, country, classical, you name it. We had it all in our home, and my parents’ music collection transitioned over the years, through the vinyl, the cassettes, all the way through to CDs. The medium may have changed but the variety only grew. I was the only kid who knew all Luther Vandross songs and loved Tchaikovsky with a passion. When I discovered Michael Jackson I immediately knew I was in the presence of something that had never been done before. Suddenly this guy had summed up in his music the bravery it takes to stand out, and I was enthralled forever.
So it began. In my eyes, Michael was the standard that justified my own feelings of being different, and being that kid who seemed to be an anomaly that no-one understood. I accepted all of his eccentricity as one of the things that you knew had to come along with being such a genius. I was not a fan- I was a follower. I made it my business to know everything I could about him, his family, his music.
When I became a Christian, I began to put this affection I had in perspective. Like everyone else, I knew most of the weird happenings in Michael’s life were spiraling out of control. I knew that if he could feel the peace I felt when I prayed, he would know true happiness. So I prayed for him. I prayed that he would come to know true peace. I prayed God would take away the people around him that were not helping him. I prayed the allegations against him were not true (ok, maybe that prayer was really for me to be able to handle what I was hearing…).
Then, one day I was at work and I got a call from my mom. At the same time, my store manager was calling me on the other line. They both knew how I felt about Michael, and were both calling to give me the news that Michael Jackson had passed away in California.
Shock. Confusion. Disbelief. Suddenly I was flooded with all kinds of emotions (ok, I know most of you at this point are probably like, seriously Nimi….he didn’t even know you existed!). I was in denial for a few days, but I eventually come to several realizations.
No matter how famous a person is, or how amazing they may look on TV, they are only human. We sometimes look upon them in awe and admiration, wishing to be like them or to have what they have. The allure of walking the red carpet, rubbing shoulders with celebrities, and signing autographs for people who adore them…this overshadows the reality of the hours doing annoying interviews and meeting with so many different people to pick the dress to wear on the red carpet, sitting next to people you probably don’t even like, and never being able to eat out in peace without someone asking you to sign a napkin…
Having awesome stuff and lots of money DOES NOT give you happiness. I mean, Michael Jackson lived in an amusement park! One of his best friends was a Beatle! He married Elvis’s daughter… ok, that one may have been a bit strange…
Being a celebrity is not all it’s cracked up to be. And to be bluntly honest, it would be difficult to survive the pressures of living your life in public everyday without Jesus. Just saying. Even Christian celebrities do not have it easy…..just saying.
Michael Jackson’s death saddens me because there was so much God had planned out for him, and he never got a glimpse of it. The joy and peace of mind he died looking for was in a Power higher than the power of celebrity; the love he constantly searched for was in the One whose love is not based on how many Grammys you win or how many times your albums go platinum. In spite of all his weirdness and eccentricities, Michael Jackson was unconditionally loved by God. I wish he had known that.
Ok. I’m out.