michael, may you now be at peace: a reflection (no. 98)

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you are free from so much…  or are you?

today is dia de los muertos- the day of the dead, and still, everything seems unreal right now.  i suppose only the body leaves this earth, and one’s spirit or memory forever remains with those who continue to honor the spirit.  i have been trying to write this to you for a month, and now, on this day, am i getting some space to do so.  and i find it hard to do.

and because of everything going on, i have no qualms with saying you are not yet free from the earthly bondage.  because so many of us are keeping you here, in how we choose to focus on the image, and not the teachings.  because we still continue to have expectations of someone who was never able to meet them, even when you were here.

the thing which is hard for many to grasp is that you were never to be defined by anyone…  so we have to hold on to something which makes us comfortable.  it was not completely a case of ‘i don’t want to be defined as black or white’…  that is a bit too simplistic.  we are so conditioned to define/label ourselves that when someone exceeds, evades or transcends labels, we don’t know what to do with those people.  so, even though, from what i saw (due to family, spiritual or other structural beliefs) you actually did adhere to some social traditions, there is only so far one can go with that, particularly if in the line of work you were in.  and from my perspective, childhood trauma is a major factor in why you did the things you did in your life.  as society doesn’t necessarily measure how one is affected by childhood trauma, those who have experienced it are ‘weird’ if they have not gotten over it after a particular age.

i mean, come on…  you were a black man who loved the concept of disney world, and had a connection with peter pan…  you owned a piece of land you called neverland and you let thousands of people a year in your home unconditionally, at the same time securing your home like a fortress.  you hung out with kids and didn’t trust adults.  you were a voracious reader and were knowledgeable in political issues, yet you were only somewhat public with that.  you wore jackets with rhinestones and regal symbols, with pajama bottoms and run-down loafers.  you were schooled by travelling around the world and at the same time scared to leave the house (for obvious reasons).  you were like a big kid and at the same time, a parent.    in a world which did observe skin colour, you were the most famous black celebrity who lost his pigment.  in continents where racism/prejudice surely exists for folks of a darker complexion, those continents recognized you as a black man.  for someone who was conscious about what he put in his body, you consumed KFC and a number of pharmaceutical drugs.

it’s IMPOSSIBLE to define who you were as a person.  i don’t see the point in even attempting, which is why i choose to focus on the teachings.

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and of course, because of the trial of conrad murray, you are still connected to this earth.  never will there be a day in this lifetime where your name will be uttered fully in relation to the teachings.  it will, as far as i am concerned, forever be uttered in connection with: (a. thriller.  (b. your sexuality.  (c. plastic surgery.  (d. drug use.  with that, it’s difficult to know where to go as a student, in a world which doesn’t see you as a teacher.

within the month, of course, much has happened, making it even more difficult to navigate life as a student.  my mind stays on one thing regarding your transition- how you were essentially left to die.  you see, to die is different than to transcend.  on earth, to die is to not be able to exude light wherever you are.  to transcend is to move on to another world, where that light still exists.

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even though i absolutely love hearing your voice- that midwestern cadence which never disappeared, and tone which deepened and slowed down with age; i do my best to remain distracted, so i don’t think of your voice…  that voice which remains shrouded in death.  i do my best to just laugh as much as i can, to dance, to sing loudly, to write…  because if i stop the voice returns. whenever the voice returns i yell silently, i make sounds out loud; i clench my fists, squeeze my eyes shut and hit myself upside the head.  i just want it all to STOP.  if it doesn’t stop i start to cry.  i try to remain distracted, but because of this trial people continue to ask me about it.  frankly, i have not been following the trial because it’s too painful to follow…  to see the images, to hear the tones.  to relive the day.

the image i saw of you- the one i said that gave me closure…  the one i told you was filled with such beauty: that image of you post-transition, which i’m sure people were frightened or saddened by…  where there was no hair, no makeup, no affectations…  that image now, by hearing your voice has opened everything back up, returning to that day the world stopped, if only for a moment….  to all the confusions, arguments and theories surrounding what happened, when no one really knew for sure.

i can’t even say i know what has been going on.  everything seems so wrong now.

i can’t remember the words verbatim if you asked me, but the tones, the cadence remain lodged there.  and i hate it.

“We have to be phenomenal. When people leave this show, when people leave my show, I want them to say, “I’ve never seen anything like this in my life. Go. Go. I’ve never seen nothing like this. Go. It’s amazing. He’s the greatest entertainer in the world. I’m taking that money, a million children, children’s hospital, the biggest in the world, Michael Jackson’s Children’s Hospital.”

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listening to your voice actually reminded me of the time i went to visit my grandmother in a home many years ago, shortly before her transcendence.  i wanted so badly to speak with her about our family history but whenever i went to ask her, she nodded off.  the little she told me was so interesting.  i knew there was so much to learn from her, but i didn’t want to interrupt her rest.  i also remember at the same time i was reading a book about the correlation between human slavery and treatment of non-humans.

in my grandmother’s calmness and wisdom though, i heard only a shadow of your former self in your speech.  it was as if you tried your best to hold on, but could not.  there was a defiance in your last days as you worked to keep up appearances, but were dying outside, and even inside.  no one could EVER know what you were actually experiencing.

hearing this audio, it’s as if everything we previously believed is washed away.  again, i don’t even know what to believe right now.  every time i hear your voice it’s a waking nightmare.  it’s ringing louder and louder and i can’t get rid of it.

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you were on ‘unknown’ drugs, it has been said.  if you actually were, what are the reasons for conrad murray recording you on his phone?  some have said it’s evidence in order to not criminalize himself, due to the argument that you were taking a lot of other drugs other than what was given to you by murray.  if this is the case, why not do a basic check to see if everything is running well?  instead of recording you, could he have made sure you did not choke on saliva, or check your pupils to see if you were okay?

some people say to me that because you desired to take all of these drugs, there is no need to be hard on murray.  whether or not you were dependent is not the point for me.  if indeed you WERE dependent, then it is supposedly murray’s job to ween you off the drugs.  if indeed you were taking drugs behind his back, murray should quit, as his relationship with you as a doctor no longer granted him the opportunity to protect you as a patient; since if you WERE taking drugs behind his back, the patient then had control over the doctor.  clearly you did not need him.  if indeed he was aware you were on other substances before he distributed propofol or anything else to you he should have quit his role as your doctor, in order to echo the values on the first credo of the hippocratic oath of doing no harm.

knowing the little i know about this case, and about the events surrounding your transition, my views have not changed:  SOMEONE WAS THERE TO MAKE SURE YOU DID NOT MAKE IT.  i thought i was so sure who it was at some point.  now i am not so sure.

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what you said on this recording made me very sad for two very distinct reasons:  one is, the fact that you even said what you had to say is a shame.  it was as if you had very little faith in yourself and your talents.  you had to openly assure YOURSELF that you were the greatest entertainer in the world.  i mean, you sold out 50 SHOWS IN A NUMBER OF HOURS!  the way this economy is, i don’t think people would shell out some of their money for nothing.  i think people had confidence you would put on the best show you could.  i don’t think there would have been a need to outdo yourself, or compete or compare yourself with anyone else. as much of a perfectionist you were, people would not expect anything less.

again, this is coming from me as a student, so i give credit to the teachings more than your performance.  the performance to me, is simply a method of bringing the teachings to the world.  i acknowledge you having the same sentiments in interviews you gave, but the recording was like an off the record comment you most likely would never want revealed to the public- the idea that you were scared, or had little confidence in your abilities.  this ‘drug induced truth’ is far from surprising; it’s just sad.

i acknowledge i could be ‘reading too much into things’ regarding what you said…  i’ve also never been in your position of influence- nor would i ever want to be.  though again, in studying you, my thoughts on it don’t seem to be too far off.

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the other reason why the recording made me sad is that around the time i heard it, was the time troy davis was murdered (by the hands of the u.s. government (via the supreme court) and the georgia parole board).  despite evidence that could have proved his innocence he was on death row for 19 years and murdered on 21st of september- the INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PEACE.  he was pronounced ‘dead’ at 11:08 pm. the man who witnesses stated most likely was the killer of  police officer mark macPhail (sylvester ‘redd’ coles) is most likely still walking around. i don’t think i’ve ever been that invested in watching televised footage as i have been on that day, to hear this news.  i stayed around at work hours after i was finished, to watch it.  it was absolutely devastating.  there were people around me who comforted me, and showed signs of sadness and anger as well.

days after the murder, i went to work, not able to get my mind off this event.  not surprisingly, most people were not aware of the event.  i ended up crying at work, getting hugs and comfort from strangers.

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even though both your situations are vastly different, i know you know what it feels like to be accused of something and dragged through the system, despite evidence contrary to the accusation.

the dreams you had of creating a hospital with the money you’d make from your tour, and the hopes you’d always had of world peace were not unlike the hopes troy davis had.  somehow though, he seemed to be more at peace with himself than you.  he said before he left this earth:

“the struggle for justice doesn’t end with me.  this struggle is for all the troy davises who came before me and all the ones who will come after me.  i’m in good spirits and i’m prayerful and at peace.”

contrast his words with your own:

“don’t have enough hope.  no more hope.  that’s the next generation…”  i cannot tell if you’ve given up on yourself, or the existing generations.  it was as if you were saying this was the last of what you can offer the world was this series of shows.  it was as if you were looking for one last glimmer of trust in anyone.  i’m receiving a lot of mixed signals, but one of them is not optimism.

and to know that you never came to terms with any sort of true healing with your trauma…  that hurts.  it hurts to hear you say you still hurt (especially in your slurred speech) because you “didn’t have a childhood.  i had no childhood….”  despite openly saying in, for instance, your oxford speech, that you were working towards healing.  you said that sick “children are depressed” because they don’t have game rooms or theatres to take their minds off of their sicknesses, so you wanted to provide that for them.

people don’t understand how difficult it is to heal from trauma.  it is an extremely long process, where it’s possible to go through relapses.  we’ve already discussed this.  like, right now i am doing okay, but what if next week, the ‘visitor’ comes back?

what you said makes me think of these words, from an unreleased (in the states, anyway) song you did, ‘shout’:

Ignorance of people purchasing diamonds and necklaces,
And barely able to keep the payments up on their lessons,
And enrolled in a class and don’t know who the professor is,
How low people go for the dough and make a mess of things,
Kids are murdering other kids for the fun of it,
Instead of using their mind or their fist, they put a gun in it
Wanna be a part of a clique, don’t know who’s running it,
Tragedy on top of tragedy you know it’s killing me.
So many people in agony, this shouldn’t have to be,
Too busy focusing on ourselves and not His Majesty,
There has to be some type of change for this day and age,
We gotta rearrange and flip the page,
Living encaged like animals and cannibals,
Eating each other alive just to survive the nine to five,
Every single day is trouble while we struggle and strive
Peace of mind’s so hard to find.

The clock is ticking, the end is coming, there’ll be no warning,
But we live to see the dawn.
We’re disconnected from love, we’re disrespecting each other
Whatever happened to protecting each other
Poisoned your body and your soul for a minute of pleasure,
But the damage that you’ve done is gonna last forever.
Babies being born in the world already drug addicted and afflicted,
Family values are contradicted.
Ashes to ashes and dust to dust, the pressure is building and I’ve had enough.

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and of course, there is ANOTHER glimmer of the teachings, even in moments of despair:

“i’m gonna do that for them.  that will be remembered more than my performances.  my performances will be up there helping my children and always be my dream. “

kenny ortega actually stated something similar under oath during this conrad murray trial:

“(you)…  wanted to do it because (you) felt now more than ever, that (your) music applied to our world situation.  ‘earth song’, ‘will you be there’, ‘heal the world’ and other songs and (you) wanted to use the stage as a platform to remind people the importance of us doing whatever we can to take care of this planet and each other.”

unfortunately, i don’t think most people WILL remember or acknowledge you outside of performance.  with all the people who consistently ask me to ‘moonwalk’; whose faces display confusion when i tell them i am a student; to those who say they love you and are not even aware of the majority of your art or works…  and those who say you CANNOT be a teacher simply by the nature of you being a performer- it’ll be a VERY long time before the world recognizes what you intended and hoped to do with your talents and gifts.

it’s unfortunate that so many moments of clarity you had were OFF the record, and were in moments of despair, sadness or under the influence of something like propofol.

i’m gonna be honest with you, michael.  one of the main teachings is to question your teacher, right?  okay.  sometimes…  well, MORE than sometimes, it upsets me that you tried so hard to please so many people.  you had these brilliant moments like the second half of the ‘black or white’ film, or much of the HIStory album, and then you made some sort of public apology for the art you made.  those who loved and appreciated what you did understood.  there was no need to apologize for anything.  that got you into some trouble in some ways.

you were so fearless in some ways (particularly in NOT defining yourself and answering to people), and fearful in many more ways throughout your life (because you did answer to people WHEN YOU DID NOT HAVE TO).  it’s so sad that in the few years and moments before you left this earth, you saw the fear melting away- a sort of coming to terms with your impermanence, which is a symptom of losing that fear. perhaps it’s because it became clear what the industry has done and was continuing to do to you, that you felt you had nothing to lose.  perhaps it was fatherhood.  perhaps it was the culmination of the 1993 and 2005 trials.  i don’t know what was going on in your mind.  but the last few years of your life were certainly interesting.

i will always ask you this question:  you spent so much time trying to ‘heal the world’ and take care of all the children in the world, did you spend time actually taking care of yourself?  yes, as much as i respect you as a man and learn so much from you i have no problem with telling you that you upset me so much of the time.  looking at you though, i do end up looking at myself and knowing i have to work harder to deal with whatever traumas i have experienced.  again, it’s VERY hard.  and i know i am extremely hard to deal with at times.  and i know YOU were difficult to deal with.  anyone who denies that about you has never had to intimately deal with anyone who has not healed from childhood trauma.  it’s pretty easy to tell just from watching your body language and manner of speaking that you were.

i also have no problem in saying that because you hadn’t truly dealt with your trauma, people were able to take advantage of you throughout your whole life.  seeing your body language with quincy jones during the period where you were seemingly most influential in the industry, it was as if he were a geppetto to your pinocchio (to use an example you may be familiar with).  i can’t help but continue to think about you winning all those awards in 1984, and jones embracing you…  he picked you up as if you weighed nothing.  also seeing him sit next to you as you were interviewed- it was as if you spoke on command.  just like when you were at motown.

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the period where your speech publicly seemed to be freest was right after you left motown for epic, and after the invincble album.  the period where you appeared most free musically was during the dangerous to HIStory periods.  after that, it was as if you used your art to warn people about what was happening to you, and the world.  your art became sort of apocalyptic and dark.  the innocuousness of ‘beat it’ was gone.  even the paternity suit tale of ‘billie jean’ seemed innocuous in comparison to, say, ‘superfly sister’.  it was as if you were prepping yourself to say, ‘i’m not really going to compete with the type of entertainment folks really want today.  i am only going to go there so much.’

the whole concept of ‘this is it’ made sense in that way.  however, i see it as unnecessary and excessive.  AGAIN, i am speaking as a student who is perfectly fine seeing you give a speech on how you view the world.  i respect you more as a political voice (and a man outside of song and dance) than as an entertainer.  you really did not need to present a spectacle to show how important you were, particularly as a social and political figure.

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to me, the fact that people in the fan base focus on media describing your perceived ‘strangeness’ or calling you ‘jacko’ is distracting; and continues to give that very media power.  it’s more important to pro-actively strive towards the teachings, and not focus on words any media organization will conjure up.  you will always be considered strange, by virtue of not being able to be defined by any one standard.  a focus on the words is a continuation of the spectacle:  one i cannot utilize energy on focusing on.

“i’m gonna do that for them.  that will be remembered more than my performances.  my performances will be up there helping my children and always be my dream. “

my hope is that those who truly love and respect you will acknowledge this.  if in fact, ‘THEY DON’T CARE ABOUT US’, why would we not work to create NEW media which speak to true healing, as opposed to simply complaining about how media don’t care about us?

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with that, i return to ‘this is it’…  i already boycotted watching the film (or dealing with anything regarding your name posthumously) due to the SONY association- i STILL consider it disrespectful for those running the estate to sign a large $250 million deal with the company, after the antagonistic relationship you ended up having with them.  after akio morita (head of sony in japan and major advocate for you) transcended, it was as if those who worked for the company dove in like hawks and utilized every chance they got to squeeze whatever you had dry.  anyone who researched the history of SONY is also aware of the history john branca (current co-executor of the estate) has with the company. also, in actually READING THE AEG CONTRACT, i knew something was off.  i SERIOUSLY do not think you read the thing, because if you did and signed it, then i’d SERIOUSLY question that.

and BECAUSE the contract was incredibly off, there was an initial CONFIDENTIALITY AGREEMENT in order to safeguard against anyone questioning the validity of the contract.  i don’t concur with everything in this piece; however, there’s some stuff on the legal terminology on this contract:

http://vindicatemj.wordpress.com/2011/03/29/michael-jacksons-agreement-with-aeg-a-contract-or-a-letter-of-intent/

i’m not an expert on contracts, but i read the AEG contract before i was even aware of the above piece, and i could see inconsistencies immediately.  i immediately thought it was thome who read it, or was aware of the details, and had you sign it.  this article actually states what my hunch was when i read the contract.

“Since a hypothesis that AEG didn’t know how to make contracts doesn’t hold water, the only other explanation why this agreement was masquerading as a letter is that it was an intentional and fraudulent method to force Michael Jackson to put his signature under it.  

Someone wanted very much to pass this document for a piece of preliminary correspondence and make the Artist think he was signing a letter of intent only – the terms of which are far from being final and can be renegotiated at any time – while in reality the follow-up text included many details which made the obligations taken by the signor of the document legally binding on him.”

from reading the piece and comparing it to reading the contract- i STILL maintain that you got cheated and were forced into doing these shows.  IT WAS ALL A SHOW, and i wonder if you were even aware of it.

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like…  how many of us get fooled into believing in this facade of a two-party system?  or the myth of this nation actually being a democracy?  the situations are different but the message is the same: THEY.  DON’T.  CARE.  ABOUT.  US.  you said it, you lived it.  we are ALL living it.

more from the piece:

“I have no doubt whatsoever that if Michael knew that the document he was signing would be the final agreement between the parties he would never have signed it.  But what did he know about this document? And under what circumstances did he sign it?…  Judging by the above each of us will agree that Michael was most probably thinking he was signing a preliminary document only and believed that he would have a chance to negotiate the terms of the final agreement later.

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listening to you speak in those conrad murray recordings  also confirms my belief that something was incredibly off in the process of the rehearsals for the shows, and i know that if i were to see the film i would be incredibly upset.  how could a man who was dying as you were be fit enough to do an intense show such as ‘this is it’, over a course of 50 nights over a several months?  and THEN working towards a plan to extend the shows into a number of years??!!

SO MUCH ABOUT THIS SHOW IS A LIE, and i can’t support it.  yes, i know people who didn’t necessarily pay attention to or even LIKE you who saw it, and the film gave them a new appreciation for you.  knowing what i know though (and, in seeing some images of the film people have shown me, noticing that there were some impersonators used) i cannot see it.

i mean, how am i supposed to take this?  this was what kenny ortega wrote in an e mail to randy phillips, the head of AEG live, five days before your transcendence:

“He appeared quite weak and fatigued this evening.  He had a terrible case of the chills, was trembling, rambling and obsessing. Everything in me says he should be psychologically evaluated. If we have any chance at all to get him back in the light, it’s going to take a strong therapist to help him through this as well as immediate physical nurturing.”

psychologically evaluated?  PSYCHOLOGICALLY EVALUATED??!!  there are too many things going on that no one is talking about.  he wrote in the e mail that he had to cover you because you were always cold.  he wrote that he had to make sure you ate, and that you were losing weight.

if you are any thinner than THIS:

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then ortega or WHOEVER had no choice but to strap you down and feed you.  inject you with food.  ANYTHING.  i know you have ALWAYS been skinny, but come on.  a man in his 40s looking as thin as he was in his teenage years, i just can’t even see that as looking (or being) healthy.  in that photo above, it’s like you’d get knocked over by a gust of wind. and it looked as if over the last few years of your life, for such a skinny man your weight sort of fluctuated.  it’s just not healthy to be that thin and lose rest over stress or anything else of that nature.

YOU GOTTA TAKE CARE OF YOU BEFORE YOU TAKE CARE OF ANYTHING OR ANYONE ELSE.

also from ortega:

“As far as I can tell, there is no one taking responsibility, caring for him on a daily basis. I believe that he really wants this. It would shatter him, break his heart if we pulled the plug. He’s terribly frightened it’s all going to go away. He asked me repeatedly tonight if I was going to leave him. He was practically begging for my confidence. It broke my heart. He was like a lost boy.”

ortega SHOULD have demanded an end to the show.  no question about it.  he could have opted for another project with you at another time, but if he felt morally conflicted he should have stepped out of the project.  had someone with the knowledge and foresight actually checked the legality of that ‘contract’, the show may have been stopped, and you may still be here.

i am keeping it real with you michael.  as my teacher, i am going to always keep it real with you.  if you truly entrusted conrad murray with your life and your health, someone really should have intervened.  if you got upset and stubborn, whoever was dealing with the situation would just have to have you be upset at them.  because now, since no one did any true stepping in (in order to make you happy, perhaps), you are no longer here.

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over the years there have been too many creepy and shady people in your life; some of them you were actually open in your distrust of them.  tommy mottola, thome thome… at one point john branca and frank dileo (even thought they came back into the fold years later.  and of course, dileo transcended recently).  everyone down to christian audigier has been creepy.  some time before your transcendence i didn’t sense positivity in your life (before i was even aware of many of the people in your life i sensed this dark energy, so i would light candles for you and send positivity your way).  was murray pushed into doing what he did by AEG, and was he played by them? was he convinced by the money he was ‘guaranteed’, regardless of who was giving him the money?

the story continues to get complicated to me.  had you known of the details of what you were signing- if you knew basically that you were signing away YOUR LIFE, would you have signed?  was there a point you realized that what you signed was a lie, and realized it was too late?  did you recognize that everything you worked for was at risk if you so much as ‘violated’ their false contract?

did you eventually figure out that what you signed was false, and realizing you could not get out of it, convince yourself that it was something you wanted to do?  HAD to do?  that it was something you wanted YOUR CHILDREN to see you do?

or, did you sign it, thinking it would be one of your last opportunities to be a teacher?

“i’m gonna do that for them.  that will be remembered more than my performances.  my performances will be up there helping my children and always be my dream. “

i’m not going to sit here and project what i would have done had i been in your situation, or there with you.  again, people did not want to hurt you because you had a wonderful heart, but that can also be manipulative, either on your part or moreso on murray’s (or AEG’s) part.

there comes a time when the lessons should truly be applied here; when we all become a part of each other.  when situations don’t line up, it’s time to step in and reclaim the light.  to rectify those situations.  and i suppose it’s too late to apply the lessons to this specific situation, but never too late to apply them to life in general.

and just know that even though i have major critiques for you from time to time, those critiques are done in love.  i’m sure you know that already.  i recognize that critique sounds like yelling or bossiness to someone who’s dealt with trauma.  truthfully though, all of us need to hear it.

before it’s too late.

love, jamilah

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About jamilah

i am here to spread the teachings of michael (and the joy of cats) around the world. this blog is essentially a series of conversations with my teacher, and one form (out of many possibilities) of therapy through expression of words.
This entry was posted in childhood, children, economy, freedom, life, michael jackson, parenting, politics, transcendence, trauma, universal law. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to michael, may you now be at peace: a reflection (no. 98)

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