Tuesday, February 1, 2011


The Name

Michael. Who is like God. Gift of God.

It is not an uncommon name. Many have had it bestowed upon them, but for us it is a name that when spoken, slides over the lips like red wine, rich and bursting with flavor. Lighting up the eyes it wreaths a face in smiles, and quickens the heart with excitement and tender longing. We clothe ourselves in this name; drape it around our necks and dangle it from our ears. We speak it, watch it, dance and sing it. It is drawn and painted and written upon pages; branded on our skin, hearts and minds. It is a name synonymous with everything we hold dear and love in this life. The name Michael is a soul’s kiss and a spiritual whisper of adoration.

The Child

Cute, adorable and playful, his smile won our hearts. He sang like an angel and moved like a seasoned professional far beyond his years, holding us captive and bound to him forever.

Well, you don't get to do things that other children get to do, having friends and slumber parties and buddies. There were none of that for me. I didn't have friends when I was little. My brothers were my friends. Michael Jackson.

For those of us who witnessed his emergence into the world of song and dance (children ourselves), we never questioned the hows and why’s he arrived to the stage. He was just there, shining and bright with life and a talent that left us breathless. We never considered that while we were going to school and playing with our friends, going to the park, the beach or on vacation with our families, engaging in normal childhood pleasures and activities, Michael was not doing the same.

He was like a child who never was. Years determined his age, but harsh discipline, grueling hours of practice and performing and dedication to his art, determined that he would never know the simplicity of living in the world of children with all its magic and laughter and fantasy. Instead he lived it in his mind; a private playground equipped with all that he yearned for but had never experienced. And through it all, he kept smiling and singing and dancing for a world that was unaware of his loneliness.

The Teenager

I was a gangly adolescent heading toward five feet ten inches… It was tough. Everyone had called me cute for a long time, but along with all the other changes, my skin broke out in a terrible case of acne…. I couldn’t look at people when I talked to them. I’d look down, or away. I felt I didn’t have anything to be proud of and I didn’t want to go out. I didn’t want to do anything. Michael Jackson

He grew; he grew tall and lean, and the roundness of the child’s face refined itself into angular lines of the young adult. The evitable course of nature dictates that all life must age, and Michael left his childhood behind and walked toward the angst, uncertainty and afflictions of the teenage years. And we walked with him, each bearing the signs of our body’s ever changing appearance and the confusion over emotions that often seemed out of control.

For some, these years were more painful than for others, leaving scars that ran deep into the future. Michael was no different, but this period in a sense was worse for him because he was so much in the public eye. Exposed on stage and before cameras he could not hide his face from the spotlight nor did he try, as he sang and danced in an expression of joy and deep emotion.

If we noticed the physical changes occurring in him, it was the revelation that a magical being was starting to emerge from his cocoon. We waited in expectation for the day he would unfold and stretch his wings.

The Butterfly

I only ask to be free. The butterflies are free. Charles Dickens

Once free from his chrysalis, Michael was more beautiful than we could have imagined. He had an ethereal beauty that came from deep within his soul, and it shone from him surrounding everyone who came near. None of us could resist the magnetic pull toward him; man woman and child were drawn to him like a moth is to flame, and we burnt from the love that was out of our reach, almost untouchable.

Yet we couldn’t help but come back for more; just as the moth, we kept flying into the light. We stood under hotel balconies and at the gates of Neverland, everywhere that we knew he would be, with our smiles and hopeful hearts waiting for a glimpse, a wave, a word, a touch; just one moment of physical connection.

Some would say that Michael was no different to other icons that collected adoring followers, but we know different. We know that Michael was different. He was more than an artist and he was more than just physical beauty. He exuded a spiritual aura that touched everything and everyone with an unselfish and all encompassing love. We could see it then as we can now, that one such as him comes but once in a lifetime.

The Master of Song

I wake up from dreams and go "Wow, put this down on paper." The whole thing is strange. You hear the words, everything is right there in front of your face . . . Michael Jackson

Instantly recognizable; a voice that is as smooth as silk and fluid in intonation and clarity. Strong and powerful or soft and tender, Michael adapted his voice to the message in his songs, pouring his heart and soul into lyric’s that told more than just a story. His songs were poetry; an extension of his feelings that exposed his deep innermost feelings. They gave us an insight into his heart and mind, and carried us far beyond imagination into the reality of his world and the spiritual essence contained within. When we close our eyes and breath in the music, we are right there in his moment of joy, pain, happiness, loss, loneliness and sometimes anger; feeling the words as if they were our own.

Michael’s song is unforgettable and much more than just aesthetically pleasing to the ear. It brings us to an awareness of his message; a message that ripples across the universe in waves forever etched in the history of mankind; an eternal prose of enlightenment.

The Master of Dance

…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. Michael Jackson.

He was a white heat radiating from the stage pulsing with energy and light, and when he danced time stood still. No one could take their eyes off him  nor deny the genius of his artistry. Michael was simply mesmerizing. But what made him different from other great dancers of our age? Michael didn’t move to one genre. He incorporated many styles into his dance and mastered each, making him unique and a force to be reckoned with.

His innate sense of rhythm and timing was a natural gift not acquired through practice, but born in him and gifted from above, and each movement he made was in perfect time to the message contained in his lyrics. Quick-fire spins led to the sensuous sway of hips, and in between, he tap danced and moon walked across the world inspiring and electrifying audiences of all ages.

His passion for the art he excelled at; using every part of his body, heart and soul, was a ballet choreographed by divine communion. Michael on-stage and off, will forever remain irreplaceable.

The Man, the Mirror, the Message

I'm just like anyone. I cut and I bleed. And I embarrass easily. Michael Jackson

Michael. The name, the child, the teenager, the butterfly, the master of his craft, was driven to perfection; inspired to make a change in this world. He was a man made of flesh and blood, a man who had his flaws, eccentricities and demons that chased him. His childhood experiences helped to shape the man he would become, but his drive toward excellence and perfection, and more importantly, the empathy he had for the pain and suffering of others, especially children and our planet, came from another place.

He was a beacon to not only his adorers, but also to the disdainers who recorded and wrote of every aspect of his life. Nowhere could he go without being followed, photographed or questioned. His only sanctuary was Neverland, and that too became tainted through lies that almost destroyed his spirit. He became geographically homeless in a sense, drifting from one country to the next with the little ones he knew he could trust, his precious children.

How much the loss of his childhood, the pain of his teenage years and the many betrayals affected Michael, we will never know, but undoubtedly they left their scars. A brilliant businessman and consummate artist aside, Michael was a sensitive soul; a soul that searched and questioned and dreamed.

I changed. People change. Michael Jackson

We see glimpses of this searching and questioning in images captured of Michael standing before a mirror. The mirror image of self- reflection is intrinsically bound to his message; Michael and the mirror, the mirror and Michael.

What was he thinking as he contemplated his reflection? Was he measuring what he had gained against the price he had paid for his success; the countless tours and rehearsals, the invasive curiosity about his life, the publicity and bad press, the ultimate betrayals and tribulations? Did he ever ask the mirror, “Why me? Why was I chosen to deliver this message?”

Whatever his thoughts, whatever was passing through his mind during those moments, there is a sense of Michael pressing into the mirror as if was trying to merge the physical with the image; as if he saw both as two separate entities.

But, through all his joys and happiness, the trials and pain throughout the years, one thing remained constant; his message.

To heal the world, we first have to heal ourselves. And to heal the kids, we first have to heal the child within, each and every one of us. Michael Jackson

What about the bleeding Earth
Can't we feel its wounds
What about nature's worth?
It's our planet's womb.

The basis of his message isn’t new by any means. Many advocates of peace, love and healing have lent their voices to the peacemaker’s choir. But what made Michael’s voice so different; so special?

He was loved and supported unequivocally, by millions upon millions of people in an age where technology allowed the farthest reaches of our world access to images and sound through the click of a button. He toured extensively, he recorded, and he published and used his craft to rise up onto the world platform. Once there, once he had our hearts lying in his hands, he delivered his message to ears that were open and ready to hear. No one before has been able to reach so many people at the same time.

Michael’s legacy more than anything, is his humanitarianism; his unselfish giving of time, money and love. It wasn’t just empty words he spoke, he lived his message and he believed in it with all his heart and soul. For us now, the one’s left behind, a duty falls on our shoulders to make sure his legacy is continued into the future. Let not our words be empty. Let not our actions disprove what he worked so hard for and ardently believed in. We have this one chance given to us so let’s make it count. Let’s make that change in ourselves, and then change the world for our children and for Michael. It is the greatest honor we can give a man who sacrificed so much for us.

© Valmai Owens, 2011
Director of Publications/Editor-in-Chief
Dot to Dot: Keeping Michael’s Legacy Alive


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