The passing of Michael Jackson has produced an outpouring of reflections, commentary and tributes. I will add mine. Michael Jackson was a phenomenal communicator. Through his art – his music, his dance, his theatrical presentation – he reached millions across the world. In the few weeks since his death I have paid less attention to all the media hype and more to the very simple ways that his art communicated and connected people.
When I heard of his death, I immediately thought about the endless hours I spent in the basement of my parent’s home listening to Jackson Five records as a child. I was not much older than Michael was when he and his brothers made those recordings. That memory got me to pick up the phone and call my siblings and the childhood buddies who, along with me, memorized every lyric and dance move. We felt empowered, we felt joy – it was an awakening for us all and we had a chance to share those memories again.
In the weeks after Michael’s death, I have noticed how easy it is for people who perhaps don’t know each other well to have a conversation about one thing they do share – reflections of Michael. For friends you know well, it is interesting to share perceptions of Michael – the good and the bad – and to create an opportunity to shed light, share ideas and perspectives that often go well beyond Michael himself and are really about life itself and who we want to be in the world.
My own daughter – age 12 – had heard a few Michael Jackson songs on the radio but she knew little about him. All the attention, however, got her interested and she has been listening non-stop to Thriller and Off the Wall and practicing her “moon walk.” It has given the two of us something to share and appreciate.
A loss like this, provides a gentle reminder to look around at those you love and care for and to let them know it. Michael’s death reminds us that life is fragile and it is to be appreciated in each moment.
Michael connected the dots between people and I think he knew it. That was his gift. Thank you.