Jun 15 2011
We can fly you know. We just don’t know the how to think the right thoughts and levitate ourselves off the ground. -Michael at age 24
A (s)hero of mine who has also passed on had a photo of a flying pig on her wall at work at one time. She kept it there to remind herself that pigs can fly – to remind herself to accept no limitations. This woman accomplished phenomenal things in her lifetime, too. This idea, this attitude of “no limitations“, that “pigs can fly“, and “We can fly” is the level of tenacity that it takes to cultivate fruit from the hard earth that is life.
What is also required is a belief in magic and an ability to see and feel magic in the everyday; to have an ethereal radar which picks up on life’s very tendrils as they sway and dance in the cosmic winds.
If one is an artist like Michael, then translating that experience such that others can also see and feel that magic is the ultimate Union – the bringing together of the physical with the divine.
The artist is the conduit through which that magic happens and Michael’s ability to do this is what electrified all of us and what causes him to remain bright and alive in our memories and our hearts for generations. He still is very much alive within his millions of fans old and new, all over the world. That energy does not cease to exist just because the artist is physically gone. The magic lives forever.
Onstage in one of his sequined jumpsuits, he’s a flamboyant picture of grace, a sleek jaguar ready to pounce. In photographs he’s a creature of sweet sensuality, beguiling, angelic, androgynous. In person though, he’s quiet and reserved, a gangling young man of cagey reticence with a childlike aura of wonder.
I don’t appreciate the use of the word like ‘cagey‘, because it implies a dastardly sneakiness. And Michael, while a prankster, was not an evil one but rather a playful one. He was painfully shy off stage. Not sure I’d call that “cagey“, but that’s just a nit.
As for the word “androgynous“, I find that OK in 1984. At that time, it didn’t seem to be used in a suggestive manner as it later sometimes was, along with other epithets about his sexuality. That word is often used to describe other artists like David Bowie, but without the negative connotations which dogged Michael later in life due to his physical changes, his refusal to abuse women, and the allegations against him.
Below is one page (I haven’t located the other one yet) of an interview young Michael did with Newsweek at age 24. The quotes above are from the article. I hope you can read it, as it’s small and a larger version doesn’t seem to exist.
Michael said of his various pets:
“I like to pry into their world and watch them move about. I just stare at them.”
He was equally fascinated by the world of children:
“When I’m upset about a recording session, I’ll dash off on my bike and ride to the schoolyard just to be around them. When I come back to the studio, I’m ready to move mountains. Kids do that to me. It’s like magic.”
Little did Michael know – or maybe he did know – that he had that same affect on his fans. They loved to stare at him, pry into his world, fascinated by him. And, he certainly made them feel inspired and energized, like they could move mountains. To his fans, Michael represented the same type of magic that he himself saw in children, animals and other creatures.
He grabbed that magic and wonder (and sometimes frustration and pain) he experienced in life and put it into music, film and dance. He sent that astounding, brilliant energy straight from his own soul into his fans’ hearts and memories where it remains alive today.
This is what it means to put one’s soul into one’s work as Michael said, so that the art lives forever even after the creator is gone. That is the very essence of creativity and Michael being the creative genius he was, understood very well. . . this is is what it means to fly.
• • • UPDATE • • •
As often happens, a reader has located more information. ‘Zenriver‘ has located the article online and has provided the links. So, here is the entire article followed by the online links – thank you ‘Zenriver‘! :
It’s a giddy and glamourous sound, Hands clap, horns blare. A carnival of percussion erupts. Electric guitars chatter like a corps of African talking drums. A voice gasps and then chants a chorus. So go the first few seconds of “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ ” six minutes of musical frenzy from a new Epic album called “Thriller.” The show-stopping style could come from only one star—Michael Jackson.
January 10, 1983
For nearly 14 years Jackson has been making his own breathless brand of show-business history. He first burst into view in 1969, as the 10-year-old dancing dynamo who dipped, spun and sang for the Jackson 5, a quintet of buoyant young brothers. Over the next decade he helped sell more than 90 million records, both with that group and as a solo artist. Heir to a great tradition of black stagecraft, he has become a whirling dervish of the modern recording studio. In 1979 he helped bring black music into the ’80s with “Off the Wall,” a luminous set of high-tech dance hits, including four Top 10 singles—the most from any one album by any solo performer in the history of recorded music.
Supercharged: Now, at 24, Jackson seems poised for another surge. He wrote and produced Diana Ross’s recent Top 10 hit, “Muscles.” He narrated and sang a song for the storybook album of “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.” And for “Thriller,” his long-awaited sequel to “Off the Wall,” he has fashioned a supercharged pop classic for the ’80s—flashy, futuristic, floridly upbeat.
Despite his showy style, Michael Jackson remains something of an enignia. Onstage in one of his sequined jump suits, he’s a flamboyant picture of grace, a sleek jaguar ready to pounce. In photographs he’s a creature of sweet sensuality, beguiling, angelic, androgynous. In person, though, he’s quiet and reserved, a gangling young man of cagey reticence, with a childlike aura of wonder.
He lives with his mother and two younger sisters in a Tudor-style estate in the San fernando Valley. On the grounds he keeps a small menagerie that includes a llama named Louis, a boa constrictor named Muscles and a sheep named Mr. Tibbs. “I think they’re sweet,” says Michael in his willowy whisper of a voice. “I like to pry into their world and watch the way they move about. I just stare at them.” He is equally fascinated by the world of children: “When I’m upset about a recording session, I’ll dash off on my bike and ride to the schoolyard, just to be around them. When I come back to the studio, I’m ready to move mountains. Kids do that to me. It’s like magic.”
Magic is the key. It’s a word that Jackson uses with disarming frequency, as if to conjure up a never-never land of constant enchantment. Beethoven, Rembrandt, Charlie Chaplin—all these things to him are magic. It was certainly magic when he met E.T.: “He grabbed me, he put his arms around me. He was so real that I was talking to him. I kissed him before I left.” And the magic doesn’t stop there: “I have dreams to this day about flying,” he says, explaining his love for Steven Spielberg’s airborne Extraterrestrial. He pauses and leans forward: “We can fly, you know. We just don’t now how to think the right thoughts and levitate ourselves off the ground.”
Michael Jackson as Peter Pan? The notion sounds ridiculous—until you consider Michael’s point of view. His saga has the flavor of a modern-day fairy tale.
Growing up in the dingy ghetto of Gary, Ind., the fifth child in a family of eight, he virtually stepped from his crib to the stage. He was coached by his father, a crane operator who had once played with the Falcons, an early rock band. “There was a big baseball park behind our house,” recalls Michael. “You could hear the cheers of the crowd. But I never had any desire to play baseball. I would be inside working, rehearsing.” At the age of five he played his first paying gig with the Jackson 5. “When we sang, people would throw all this money on the floor,” says Michael—”tons of dollars, 10s, 20s, lots of change. I remember my pockets being so full of money that I couldn’t keep my pants up. I’d wear a real tight belt. And I’d buy candy like crazy.”
Rewarded: The group began to win talent shows. Back home in Gary they took time to perform at benefits for Muigwighania, a local black-pride organization led by a man named Richard Hatcher. When Hatcher later became the city’s first black mayor, he rewarded the Jacksons by spotlighting them at a 1968 civic “Soul Weekend” starring Diana Ross and the Supremes. “He won me over the first moment I saw him,” Ross told NEWSWEEK in 1970. “I saw so much of myself as a child in Michael. He was performing all the time. That’s the way I was. He could be my son.” She convinced her boss, Berry Gordy, to audition the group for his legendary Motown label.
By 1968 Gordy’s company had become one of the largest black-owned enterprises in the United States—an empire built on black music sweetened for white ears. The Jackson 5 were the perfect Motown act: a band of boys so I cuddly and cute that no one could feel threatened by their sexy antics or their black skin. Best of all, their pint-size lead singer had mastered every nuance of the soul singer’s art—the heartfelt histrionics of Jackie Wilson, the pleading romanticism of Smokey Robinson, the kinetic energy of James Brown. Gordy carefully groomed the group and then handed them “I Want You Back”—one of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll tracks ever made. The record explodes like popcorn. Americans of all ages went scrambling in response, snapping up more than 2 million copies of the single and turning the Jackson 5 into instant superstars.
Michael was now 11, a seasoned trouper and a fan-club pinup at a time when most boys still dream only of idling away summer days on a sandlot. He was whisked from the sooty snow of Gary to the smoggy glitter of Hollywood. “When we got there, we went to Disneyland,” he recalls. “It was freezing in Indiana. It’s freezing right now in Indiana. The sun, the swimming pools, a whole other image, a whole other life. It was magic.”
In fact, the “magic” involved a lot of hard work, hammering out hits on Motown’s assembly line of soul. “We’re labeling it ‘soul-bubblegum’,” declared Gordy in 1970. “It’s a style that appeals to the younger teens.” The exact formula was, as usual, strictly controlled by the company. “We provide total guidance,” explained a Motown vice president. “We provide their material, set their basic sound and work out the choreographic routines.” They also set a 9:30 curfew.
Influence: For three yearsthe regimen worked. The Jackson 5 became the fastest-selling act in Motown’s history, eclipsing such solid-gold predecessors as the Supremes and Miracles. For several years Michael could watch his own animated self frolic on a Saturday-morning network-television cartoon show, “The Jackson 5.” Despite such vivid proof of his own astonishing influence, Michael throughout these years remained wrapped in a cocoon, surrounded by bodyguards, tutors and his immediate family circle—a child at sea in a world of adults, expected to sing love songs he could scarcely understand. Growing up in this fantasyland of make-believe romance and real-life adulation left its mark. “I hate to admit it,” says Michael, “but I feel strange around everyday people. See, my whole life has been onstage. And the impression I get ofpeople is applause, standing ovations and running after you. In a crowd I’m afraid. onstage I feel safe. If I could, I would sleep on the stage. I’m serious.”
“Jacksonmania” gradually subsided. As he grew older, Michael’s plangent soprano plunged an octave. Finally, in 1976, the group left Motown for a new label, Epic. In 1978 Michael made his movie debut, playing the Scarecrow in “The Wiz.” That year the Jacksons’ sagging musical career also got a fresh boost from a record called “Destiny”—the first album entirely written and produced by the group itself. The dance hit “Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)” featured Michael, 19 and newly confident, filling the air with impatient squeals. A few months later, when the veteran jazz arranger and film composer Quincy Jones produced “Off the Wall,” Michael’s first solo album in five years, he added a classy veneer of urbane elegance to the singer’s nervous new style. The album sold more than 5 million copies—and suddenly Michael Jackson was back at the forefront of American popular music.
Try as he might to escape it, he has been in the limelight ever since. Rumors surround his every passing romance. Three years ago the talk concerned Tatum O’Neal. This year it’s about Brooke Shields. Michael himself has hinted that he’d like to marry Diana Ross. He maintains close friendships with a dazzling—and unusual—array of stars: Katharine Hepburn, Liza Minnelli, Jane Fonda. Yet he leads a sober and disciplined life, fasting every Saturday and dancing for 30 minutes by himself every Sunday. He doesn’t drink, smoke or swear: since even the word “funky” seems to him a little off-color, he uses the word ‘jelly” instead. He has followed in his mother’s faith and become a practicing Jehovah’s Witness, convinced, as he sings on his 1979 solo hit, “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough,” of “the force” within—a divine, pure, healing instinct for love, expressed through his own musical gifts. “The thing that touches me is very special,” he says. “It’s a message I have to tell. I start crying and the pain is wonderful. It’s amazing. It’s like God.”
Enthusiasm: “Michael’s a truth machine,” says Quincy Jones. “He’s got a balance between the wisdom of a 60-year-old and the enthusiasm of a child.” At a recent recording session, Michael spent five hours fine-tuning an upcoming single, patiently jotting down technical notes for his engineer, carefully calibrating the sound. Finished at last, he leaped up, yelled, “It’s jelly time!”—and started a food fight.
He remains painfully shy. During a reporter’s visit to his home, the doorbell rang. Michael froze in his seat, remembering that his bodyguard and assistant were both away. Cautiously, he approached the door and peered through the peephole. He went to the window and peeked through the blinds. His voice trembled. “I never do this,” he said, opening the door. On the step a messenger had left a package of new sheet music.
Put this timorous man-child onto a stage, though, and he will bring 50,000 people out of their seats. Give him a soyto voce note at the end of a ballad and he will steal their breath. “That note will touch the whole audience,” says Michael. “What they’re throwing out at you, you’re grabbing. You hold it, you touch it and you whip it back—it’s like a Frisbee.”
The same impish delight—and musical command—shines through on “Thriller,” Michael’s new album. The title track sets the tone. With a “rap” by Vincent Price, Hollywood’s master of the macabre, and the use of elaborate sound effects—a creaking door, a whistling wind—the song evokes a child’s laughing dash through a haunted house. And this isn’t the only roller-coaster cut. The entire album is a farrago of startling tricks: phased synthesizers, swirling voices, a bevy of what sounds like sing-along chipmunks.
These grabby stunts soon pale—and we’re left to marvel at Michael’s four new compositions. Each one is quirky, strange, deeply personal, with oflbeat lyrics that hint at Michael’s own secret world of dreams and demons.
Wicked Vixen: His most seductive new song, “Billie Jean,” is about a paternity suit pressed by a cunning temptress. “Billie Jean is not my lover,” wails Michael, singing as if his life depended on it; “the kid is not my son.” The same wicked vixen—”talkin’, squealin’, spyin”—appears in “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’,” a roiling lyric full of screwball lines. For example: “You’re a vegetable/Still they hate you . . . You’re just a buffet . . . They eat off of you.” “Beat It,” a blustery foray into macho hard rock, counsels the listener to run away from bullies—advice sung to the accompaniment of a bullying guitar solo. And then there is the current Top 10 hit, “The Girl Is Mine,” a duet with Paul McCartney. It sounds very pretty and perfectly innocuous—until you begin to think about the lyrics. Have American radio stations ever before played a song about two men, one black and the other white, quarreling over the same woman?
Every one of these lyrics could be faulted for elliptical lines, awkward phrases, even the occasional malapropism. But as Paul McCartney pointed out last spring, shortly after recording “The Girl Is Mine,” such complaints miss the point. “The song I’ve just done with Michael Jackson, you could say that it’s shallow,” McCartney explained. “There was even a word—’doggone’—that I wouldn’t have put in it. When I checked it out with Michael, he explained that he wasn’t going for depth—he was going for rhythm, he was going for feel. And he was right. It’s not the lyrics that are important on this particular song—it’s much more the noise, the performance, my voice, his voice.”
And what a voice Michael Jackson has. On ballads he is hushed, reverent, trembling, his tenor arching into a supple, pure falsetto. On up-tempo dance tunes he’s hoarse, ecstatic, possessed—his singing an awesome repertoire of pops, clicks, squeaks, gurgles, moans, almost any sound that can be juggled rhythmically. Michael’s voice haunts these songs, gives them heart. It transcends all the electronic gimmickry. It is what will make this music endure.
On their last tour together, in 1981, the Jacksons opened each concert by showing a videotape made under Michael’s supervision. Set to the music of “Can You Feel It,” a hymn to human unity composed, in part, by Michael himself, the tape consists of images inspired by “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and Busby Berkeley’s gilded Depression-era musicals. At one point we see the Jacksons drift to earth, each encased in his own bubble. In another sequence, the Jacksons, portrayed as superhuman giants, lift a rainbow, light the heavens and sprinkle stardust on the cities of the earth, causing small children of all colors to glow with gratitude, bathed in rainbow hues, reaching out to touch and hold one another. These images, which betray a naive megalomania, have an undeniable poignancy. Here is a black giant who sacrificed his childhood to become a pop idol, a demigod detached from his fellow men, now sealed in a transparent bubble—a lonely prophet of salvation through the miracle of his own childlike, playful, life-giving music.
_ _ _
A print version of the article can be viewed here: http://www.newsweek.com/1983/01/09/the-peter-pan-of-pop.print.html
The regular html version is here: http://www.newsweek.com/1983/01/09/the-peter-pan-of-pop.html
Feb 12 2011
Back when I worked in a large building, in fact when I worked in several different large buildings in the past, going up on the roof was a favorite thing to do at lunch and breaks. There was no rooftop garden or dining area – just a roof. Tarpaper that looked mighty thin and fragile yet was somehow solid beneath. It felt good to have the viewpoint from up there and to look upon people who didn’t know we could see them from up there. It was often high enough up that they looked pretty tiny and we could see the pattern of life teeming below from a perspective that couldn’t be seen otherwise. To be able to get away from the day-to-day grind and escape like that was a real gift sometimes. It was private, a change of pace, and when needed, solace.
Same with flying airplanes, which I used to do as well. Small planes, like single-engine Cessnas. Seeing life from a different perspective outside changes your perspective inside completely. In an airplane, there’s no one but yourself, a humming engine, and God. Physical removal from the planet, and a rise to the sky where one spends a good bit of time does something to a person. It’s why Richard Bach wrote Jonathan Livingston Seagull, A Bridge Across Forever, Illusions: Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah, and One. He spent a lot of time up there too and he knew about this changed perspective, this further dimension of spirituality that is accessible simply from being ‘up there‘. You know of course that Jonathan Livingston Seagull was also one of Michael’s favorite stories.
The one fear one has from the roof or from the plane, is falling. Falling through the roof or through the air with no control whatsoever. You only know that you are going inextricably down and likely to a horrible and sudden end. But – this is where the story of Jonathan Livingston Seagull truly began.
When my stepfather died, they called me at 3:00 or so in the morning. We knew he’d been ill, getting worse and I knew he was in the hospital. I had called his room just the day before to talk to him. I hadn’t realized it at the time but it was a last ‘goodbye‘ for him. He didn’t say that and I didn’t know. Not until the next day. After I received the call that he was gone, I was un-fazed. I planned to go to work. But after about 3-4 hours it hit me. He was gone. Gone! My stepfather was for all intents and purposes, my father. We had wanted him to adopt us but he refused – not because he didn’t love us. He certainly did. But, had he adopted us, we would not have been allowed to see our biological father ever again. And he thought that was not acceptable. When it hit me I felt lost. Totally lost. I called my sister back and was literally blubbering. We agreed that I should fly home to be there with the rest of the family. I made arrangements at my job to take the necessary days to do so.
When I got home, the first thing I did was go to the bedroom closet and pull out his poems. That was the first thing I thought of when I thought of him – even though he hadn’t written a poem since the 1940s – 1950s or so, mostly he’d written them in his younger years, before I even knew him. I used to get them out and sit on the living room floor and read them. I think he was flattered that I had taken any interest in them at all. At the same time, I think it made him feel uncomfortable that I was reading things that he had written from his heart and soul – 20-30 years ago. No one else in the family thought about those poems. Even his own sister who knew him during the decades he had written them had forgotten about them. They were on old yellowed paper and either handwritten or typed out on an old typewriter. Some of them were even compiled into a sort of chapbook. I ended up making copies of all of them for his sister after he died. A few years later, he appeared to me in a sort of ‘dream‘ when Mom was visiting me. Odd timing, that. He was dressed in this silly fishing hat, some touristy looking shorts and a polo shirt, looking quite bright and healthy. He told me: “They have everything here!“, and he also said: “Tell your brother to take care of your mother for me.” At the time, Mom lived alone in an apartment so I thought that was interesting. Now, however she does live with my eldest brother, who along with my older sister, takes care of her. How did he know that’s where Mom would end up? How did he know she was there with me when he came to visit me in that ‘dream‘? Had he come to see her too? And do they really “have everything there”, wherever it was he was referring to?
There have been many experiences in my life even prior to this that let me know that the life we see, the physical beings we are, the material world we live in, isn’t all there is. I’ve had out of body experiences that were at once fascinating and frightening, lest I be unable to return to this vessel which contains my soul. I haven’t had one of those in years and when I did, it was before my stepfather passed so I had some inkling that things were not quite exactly as literal they seem in this life. I dread the next time I lose someone – I dread that delayed reaction I seem to have when this happens. I am fine for hours or even days, but then it hits me like an emotional freight train and I fall very suddenly into an uncontrollable sea of pain, regret, guilt, grief.
This is what happened when we lost Michael, too. The first day, I didn’t even know for sure that it was true. The next two days, it nagged at me from the back of my mind like a crying child that wouldn’t go to sleep or had a terrible case of colic. Because I had been busy with other people much of the weekend it wasn’t until the end of the second day that I had time for it to sink in and started remembering. I looked back at the videos of his performances and the videos of his interviews. I looked back at his humanitarian endeavors and remembered most of those – the ones that were at all publicized. I looked back at his poems and essays in ‘Dancing the Dream‘. I painfully remembered so much about this boy/man whom I first heard sing in 1969 and his life, his music, his career, and the horrible abuse he suffered at the hands of a sick and deluded society. I remembered most if not all the songs, both his own and those with his brothers. I used to watch Soul Train and the Jacksons Variety Show and the Jackson 5 cartoon. We had his vinyl records in the house when I was growing up – Michael and the Jackson 5. I remembered him all through his major tours, albums and the trials and accusations.The more I remembered, the more I was stunned over and over again by what we’d lost. During this process, I also learned so much more that I never knew about Michael Jackson. With every old memory of him and everything new I learned about him, another piece of my heart shattered and went with him wherever he was. My mind remembered all that my heart never forgot. I cried and cried and I still haven’t really stopped. What do I do now? I was totally emotionally lost.
If someone had told me that he would die so soon and that his death would affect me like this, I’d not have believed it. I was and I am still convinced that this man/child/being was sent to humanity on a mission from God. Not just here for a purpose but a mission. Everything he was and everything he suffered because of it mirrored the problems with our world and our society. He was sent here as messenger and an example. I still believe that. It all just hit me like a freight train and I went sinking into some of the worst grief I’ve ever felt. I went for walks alone. I went into a chapel and wrote asking for prayers twice for his safe deliverance to the angels. The third time was for his children. I hid and cried alone. I still do that sometimes. Few people understand this.
Early on though, I seemed to be getting visual cues, messages, things happened that seemed to tie in with his absence – but which also told me that he was only physically absent, but not spiritually. It seemed like it was important that I realized this and that I fully understood where he was now, and why this meant that I could actually be closer to Michael than I’d ever been. After the blue heron experience I was stunned. I was overjoyed. But I questioned it. Could it really be? But it was a very compelling feeling that I just couldn’t shake. I knew it meant something and I knew what it was, but it took me a couple of weeks to actually come to grips with it. And there was always that nagging feeling that this wasn’t an ordinary loss. It has never left me. Nothing about Michael’s life or death was ordinary. No, this was something different. This man was put here for a reason, and I somehow felt he wasn’t exactly ‘gone‘.
I’d lay in bed at night and ‘talk‘ to Michael in my head. And I’d get answers seemingly from ‘nowhere‘. I don’t mean I heard voices, but I’d get answers. I shared here one of those conversations between myself and Michael. Here is part of what he said:
but more than anything, create
write a poem, sing a song, dance
draw a picture, paint a scene
express yourself in creation
do anything from your Heart
help a sick child
be a friend to someone who needs you
when you know you don’t have to
and there’s nothing in it for you
when you do any of this, that is when
most of all, I am there with you
Love is at the Heart of all Creation
to create is to live from the soul
of the Universe
to become part of all that is
This is where I have always lived
Your soul contains the wisdom of God
but don’t forget to retain the Heart of a Child
don’t box yourself inside
any thoughts of limitation
believe in yourself
if you can imagine it, it can be done
when you create, most of all
when you are kind, most of all
to anyone and the Planet
I am there with you, We are One.
So, what do I do with that? Well, besides being kinder to strangers, giving and doing more with charity, there was my writing and my poetry. I am not in that field professionally. I do something else for a living. And I’ve been doing it for over 30 years. But I would rather be writing instead. Not that I hate my other work, after all I ended up in that field for a reason. But after 30 or so years, and after being talked out of being a writer my entire life (or in the case of my family, simply ignored), I felt that it was time to do something about this. I located a vocal coach and creative instructor to both help me to be able to vocalize better (as in poetry readings) and to help me better understand and nurture my creativity. “More than anything, create“… were the words that came. This led to something else. The instructor told me about a book called ‘The Artist’s Way‘. This book explains the spiritual aspect of creativity and teaches the reader/practitioner how to develop that to its fullest and how to stop the negativity that one hears from themselves and others about being creative. Between what I found in that book and what I already knew and further learned about Michael, I realized these were the same teachings – that what Michael expressed during his life about creativity and what that book teaches are the same. I don’t consider it any coincidence that things happened this way. Michael either knew what this book teaches instinctively or he may have studied it himself. After all at least one of his directors certainly did – Martin Scorcese. And he wasn’t a considerable success until after he’d completed it from what I understand.
In Dancing the Dream Michael wrote:
Consciousness expresses itself through creation. This world we live in is the dance of the creator. Dancers come and go in the twinkling of an eye but the dance lives on. On many an occasion when I’m dancing, I’ve felt touched by something sacred. In those moments, I’ve felt my spirit soar and become one with everything that exists. I become the stars and the moon. I become the lover and the beloved. I become the victor and the vanquished. I become the master and the slave. I become the singer and the song. I become the knower and the known. I keep on dancing and then, it is the eternal dance of creation. The creator and creation merge into one wholeness of joy. I keep on dancing and dancing and dancing, until there is only – the dance.
This is exactly the concept taught in ‘The Artist’s Way‘. The Great Creator (artist) is God. We are ourselves creations of God and his/her/its consciousness. When we are creative (as we are all meant to be), we become part of that (his/her) consciousness, of that passion and energy. This energy is the consciousness of life, and of creation – when we create, we become part of that universal energy – we become One with it. At that point, there is only ‘the dance‘ and we are One with God (the Great Creator), with all of creation. We are one with the universe. Michael also expressed it like this:
Let us dream of Tomorrow where we can truly love from the Soul and know love as the ultimate Truth at the Heart of all Creation.
God created us out of love. When we are creative, we are loving him/her/it back. It is a union, a spiritual connection. Michael knew this.
Creativity is also a child. It only wants to love, be loved, and play. Sounds like Michael, right? That’s why he loved being around children. He had a childlike heart & soul. That is part of what enabled him to be so creative – the fact that he retained that. People have trouble being creative (like, writer’s block for instance) if they lose their sense of wonder, innocence, play, fun and get too caught up in adult judgements and rules and limitations. But kids know nothing of that stuff! Michael didn’t either. He retained his childlike innocence and this sometimes got him in trouble. People misunderstood this about him and judged him very harshly for it. Children’s imaginations are very fertile. So was Michael’s. This is why fun and play inspired him so much, like when he wrote Speechless.
When we talk about God in this aspect, we’re not talking about a religious but rather a spiritual God. The Universe and the buzz or universal energy and rhythm that is contained in every living thing and in its creation, life, and death. One can think of God also as an artist, a collaborator for creativity.
The Artist’s Way:
The heart of creativity is an experience of the mystical union; the heart of the mystical union is an experience of creativity. Those who speak in spiritual terms routinely refer to God as the Creator but seldom see creator as the literal term for artist. Creativity is the natural order of life. Life is energy; pure creative energy. There is an underlying, in-dwelling creative force infusing all of life–including ourselves. –The Artist’s Way
All art has as its ultimate goal the union between the material and the spiritual, the human and the divine. -Michael Jackson
This is why one of the first words out of Michael’s mouth when asked where his genius came from was “God“. He tapped into that energy, it came through him and out to the world in the form of both his creative work and his humanitarianism. Michael was very tuned in to the spiritual aspect of creativity and he realized how this not only brought him closer to God, but to himself, and his own soul. This, along with his childlike innocence, was key to everything he did. Like a child, Michael didn’t entertain or accept any concept of limitation in anything he did. He was a very spiritually-connected, artistic child in his heart and soul, as he had to be in order to gift us with the amazing treasures that he gave during his life. This came straight through Michael from God him/her/itself. That is the magic.
I had never had any difficulty understanding Michael in general or the things he did and never thought him guilty at all of the things he was accused of. Since he’s physically left here however, my understanding of him (and thus myself and God) has deepened considerably. I’m sure that Michael didn’t know he was an angel but he was. I believe this not only because of the nagging knowledge or feeling that he was here on a God-given mission, but also because the first time I heard him sing back in 1969 or so, he awakened my heart and I never forgot that. My heart didn’t know how to dance until I heard Michael Jackson sing. I will never forget that feeling. Secondly and not least, it is angels who bring people to ecstatic union with God. That is their job, among other things, and he has done this very well, not only with me but with many others. This is why he was so beloved, as much as some people twitch and cringe at the thought. That is because they do not understand the spirituality of creativity or the creativity of spirituality.
You may remember that I wrote something else that I felt came from another conversation with Michael early after his death. In ‘talking‘ to him (in my mind) one night, this came to me. Again, seemingly out of ‘nowhere‘. Not a voice or even a thought but just this message. It was:
Some say Time has passed us by, but I say it never ends. This is not an endless ending. This is only where We begin.
So, like the story of Jonathan Livingston Seagull the fall through horrible pain and grief is where this story begins. This is where I’ve landed: At the beginning. Of course I’d rather have Michael here especially now that I understand him so completely but I actually feel closer to him now and can remain closer to him now than I ever could have when he was physically present in this world with all its limitations. That’s the message I’ve gotten over and over again through all of this.
I have fallen so far and so deeply through this grief, pain, regret, and guilt because of his death and of course it will always be there. But rather than a horrible and sudden ending to this fall, I’ve landed here and I do not believe this is any coincidence whatsoever. I have been led through this deeply spiritual loss to a place where I can meet Michael, myself, and God at any time in complete union. Remember ‘111’ or ‘1111’ and how it is believed by some to be a gateway of communication from angels to mortals? Remember what Michael said: “All art has as its ultimate goal the union between the material and the spiritual, the human and the divine.” I have been seeing these numbers quite frequently thus far this year. Combined with everything else on this journey, and the messages I’ve received and the events that have transpired, I truly believe Michael is very much alive. Not physically, but spiritually, and he is telling me that nurturing my own creativity is the way to myself, God, and him. There it is. The portal.
Of course the grief is still there much of the time. But it is punctuated by moments of sheer joy at having received this gift and this message. I will always physically miss Michael. But I always know too, right where to find him: where his sweet soul has always been. He has let me know in no uncertain terms that spiritually, he’s really not gone anywhere.
Heaven is Here. You and I were never separate. It’s just an illusion. Wrought by the magical lens of perception. In a nonlocal Universe there is nowhere to go from Here to Here.
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© 2011, Seven Bowie (except excerpts from ‘The Artist’s Way‘ and ‘Dancing the Dream‘)
NOTE: Richard Bach’s other books – Illusions: Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah, Bridge Across Forever, and One, are all worthy reads which also deal with these same concepts and themes. They may be out of print but try http://www.abebooks.com if you’re interested.
Nov 30 2010
Cory, I can’t tour anymore. I’m not gonna tour anymore. Ok? Because it will kill me….remember when I was preparing for my concert and I passed out at the Sony Studio? … it’s because when I get ready for a tour I get dehydrated. I don’t eat. I don’t drink. I don’t sleep. I put so much of myself into preparing for a tour. I’m not doing it on purpose. This is just something I don’t think about anymore. You understand? I’ve just become so driven that I can’t even think about these things anymore. They made me walk around with an IV last time. So I just decided, my doctors decided that maybe you shouldn’t do this anymore.
Michael couldn’t cook much, but he was a gourmet when it came to nourishing with love.
Recently, there was some conversation in comments about how much the story of Jonathan Livingston Seagull and ‘Illusions: Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah‘, reminded some fans of Michael. Then, a friend of mine and regular visitor here named Simona posted a black and white version of the photo above on Facebook with the ‘Seagull‘ guote from Jonathan. It is of course astounding. I had the color photo and put them together to share here.
These stories, like Michael’s life, are profound, passionate, and speak to the flight of the soul against the pain of earthly life that contains it when it only wants to fly free.
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NOTE: The photo is from the January 1991 photoshoot by indian photographer Dilip Mehta – most of the pictures from that shoot were featured in Michael’s book “Dancing the Dream“.
Sep 02 2010
This is when I fell in love with Michael. I was 12. It wasn’t sexual at all because I knew nothing of that much at the time. It was just pure love, some other kind of ecstasy. That voice! That VOICE! And that charm, such a poised young gentlemen. When I see sunlight streaming through the leaves in the treetops in the morning like veils of sheer golden satin – that’s what Michael’s voice reminds me of. Pure beauty and light. That’s him. Angel. Always was. Always will be.