July 07, 2009

For Michael Jackson, or "walking on air"

When I was on the student council in elementary school, I'd somehow convinced the faculty advisor, Mrs. Wilson, that we should have a dance for the students.

Yes, I was probably 9 or 10 years old at the time. And, yes, that's crazy. Moving on.

I'm not even sure what BS story I made up to convince Mrs. Wilson to let a bunch of 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders have a party in the gym on the school's dime. It's not like she was the cool teacher that everybody liked. People hated and feared that woman, and rightly so. She was pretty doggone scary. But she bought it. There were some heavy restrictions put on the dancing, and, in her mind, the big pay off was the unveiling of this god awful paper mache giraffe that was supposed to be the school mascot, but we still pulled it off.

But the REAL highlight of the party was the dance contest.

Or, more specifically, the Michael Jackson dance-alike contest.

One of my best buddies at the time, David, won, even though he had some pretty stiff competition, including a kid who made the bold choice of not dancing like Michael but dancing like one of the slow-motion pop-locking zombies from "Thriller".

David was an active participant in the "Michael Jackson jacket" arms race.

Because, even in elementary school in the early 80's, every kid could tell you the difference between the "Beat It" jacket versus the "Thriller" jacket. And God help you if your mother bought you one made out of "pleather" (i.e. plastic leather). EVERY kid was desperate to get one or all of these jackets.

I remember going to a cookout at my aunt's house after my brother & I had gone to see "Ghostbusters", and my younger cousin was debuting his own take on Michael's moves. My dad dubbed it "The Pain Face".

I remember when my best friend Tito had a birthday party at his house, and the centerpiece of the entire thing was that his family had a video tape of the entire "Thriller" music video, and we'd all sit around and watch it again, and again, and again.

I could do this all day long.

As I said in a previous blog, Michael was magic. Pure and simple.

And magic matters.

It really, really does. Magic is there to remind us that there is MORE.

That WE, as human beings on this planet in this moment in time, are all MORE. MORE than any of us can ever possibly imagine.

That a child in a poor, hard-driving family in a dying industrial city could reach out across four decades and literally touch the souls of hundreds of millions of people in a way that each and every one of them are personally mourning him today as if he was a member of their family.....


People crave magic.

The World? Not so much.

(OK, this is where I'm going to get in trouble).

I can't help but think about Jesus.

Because here was a man who didn't just heal through entertainment, but someone who, if we believe the stories, made the lame walk, made the blind see, feed thousands with next to nothing. But he, too, was still dragged through the streets, tortured, and murdered by the state as crowds cheered and soldiers gambled over his clothes.

I'm not saying Michael was, somehow, the 2nd Coming, or that he was executed.

But The World, or those in power, cannot allow people to believe in magic. If you know that you're MORE, you can't be convinced to bow down and genuflect to the political or financial or military prowess of another man.

Power hates magic.

Which is why, even on this day of mourning, we have people calling him names and spitting on his legacy.

Which is so sad. Because, if those people could actually open their hearts enough to hear the music, maybe they'd remember that they, themselves, are also MORE than a title or a weapon or a dollar bill.

I'm grateful for living at a time where I could witness magic.

Michael Jackson has stepped back into eternity.

Thanks for the visit, MJ. And bless you.