Today is the third anniversary of the death of Michael Jackson. Anybody who knows me knows how much I *love* Michael Jackson. Even through all of the allegations, plastic surgeries and general madness, I adored this musical genius.
I remember exactly where I was when I got the news that he died. I was on the metro, on my way to zumba class with a co-worker, when I got a phone call from my
little younger brother. “I didn’t want anyone else to tell you…Mike is gone.” This was the first of many calls I received from friends and family, mostly asking if I was okay. I will admit that I did take the news pretty hard. (Although, surprisingly, I took it harder when Whitney Houston passed away. Maybe it’s because with MJ, you kinda knew that he was such a mess that there was no way his story would end well . . . meanwhile, Whitney had seemed like she was on her way back. But I digress….)
Like other fans around the world, I huddled around the tv for what was probably the most spectacular funeral service of all time. I raced to the theaters to be first in line to see This Is It. Later this summer, I’ll see the Cirque du Soleil show set to his music. Yes. It’s really that deep.
All weekend long, the radio stations have been blaring the greatest hits from his entire career. While I loved grooving to the music, it was the songs with the Jackson 5 that really got to me. At the beginning, he and his brothers were just kids with a dream. While lots of people have talent and even a few of them are willing to put the energy into make it happen, the Jackson family is that rare instance of a dream coming true. Who could have imagined when the Jackson 5 signed with Motown in 1968 all that would have happened by the time Michael’s time on earth abruptly ended on June 25, 2009? One thing that bugs me the most . . . yes, even more than the circus that his life had become . . . was the fact that he died exactly they way he said he didn’t want to. In his last major interview, which appeared in Ebony magazine in 2007, this was his response when asked if he’d keep performing into old age:
“The truth is, umm, no. Not the way James Brown did, or Jackie Wilson did, where they just ran it out, they killed themselves. In my opinion, I wish [Brown] would have slowed down and been more relaxed and enjoyed his hard work.”
And how did MJ? In the midst of preparing for what was supposed to be the greatest concert the world has ever seen . . . it ended up being the greatest concern that no one will ever see.
As we all continue to work hard, let us not work so hard as to lead to our own demise. If you follow me at all on Twitter, you will know that I’m engaging in more “self-care” these days. I’m reading books like How Did I Get So Busy?: The 28-day Plan to Free Your Time, Reclaim Your Schedule, and Reconnect with What Matters Most and 52 Small Changes: One Year to a Happier, Healthier You. I’m drinking more water and getting more sleep. When interacting with seasoned government relations professionals, instead of asking, “How did you get to the top?” I find myself asking, “How do you take care of yourself?” And, I’m just generally putting a higher priority on taking care of myself while also taking care of my obligations with work, family, etc.
With this anniversary of MJ’s death, let’s remember not to let our dreams turn into soul-crushing nightmares. Let’s chase our dreams, but also take the time to nurture ourselves along the way.
I can’t think of a great way to end this somber post, so I will just show one of my favorite Michael Jackson videos featuring my all-time favorite song. I love this video because it’s before things got weird . . . and you can still see the little kid he was in the blinged-out crooner. Enjoy!
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