(16-12-2009) After watching Michael Jackson’s ‘This Is It’ award winning writer Rev. Barbara Kaufmann posted her thoughts about the film on her online blog. This was seen by an editor for Nature’s Pathways magazine, who contacted Kaufmann and asked her to write a follow up guest column in their December 2009 issue. The full text of Barbara Kaufmann’s article The Man and the Mirror: A Tribute to Michael Jackson and ‘This Is It’ can be read below:
Michael Jackson was a world messenger with a spiritual message — make a change; make the world a better place. This Is It, the film about his planned comeback concert, features Michael living his mission not only in what he is saying, but in who he is being. It features a man whose artistry and talent was too forceful for him to contain and too big to hide, someone who was ahead of his time and anything but understood. The film is a kind of event horizon — the place where the creative process leaves the creator’s mind, meets imagination and emerges in birth. The world’s biggest mega-star, lost in the act of creation, artfully wields his incredible talent in the spirit of politicians spending political capital. It is clear Michael Jackson was called; his work was a calling. There is no turning away from a calling for it will hound and haunt until expressed. This Is It was stirring and inspiring and begged the answer to what compelled him to step up and into a life mission that was anything but easy?
While I liked Michael Jackson, I can’t say that I ever met the definition of fan. I didn’t pay close attention to his career; maybe I should have. Much of my own work as an artist, messenger and writer has been about embracing the spiritual — with empathic impulse, evocative emotion to change the world and make it a better place with words. I recognize that impulse of calling. With Michael it was more than impulse — it was Force. It is there to see for anyone watching Michael in his last performance.
I left the theater a believer; there is more to this man called Michael. The movie dashed any of my doubts about his character, personality or creative process. The filming was intended for Michael’s private library, and that made me a voyeur, disturbing because he is gone now. But I am richer for that stealth and for the process bequeathed me now by Michael. I revisited accusations, slurs; the vitriolic tabloid insults that impaled Michael Jackson for years and, despite being proven not guilty, impale him still, even beyond death. Was he a master at commanding attention? Yes. Was he capable of what some accused him of? If you want an answer, ask silently in your heart and go see the movie.
I met the Michael in the music more than the music in Michael. I watched a master of transcendentalism building a meditation in magic. I saw Michael in the role of artist, leader, teacher, master and guru. I saw his infinite patience and I didn’t miss his kindness in dealing with his musicians, dancers, singers and crew, his long breaths of tolerance toward solicitous blather designed to impress. Stunned by his allegiance to the brutal taskmaster of message, I even glimpsed his vision. I admired his translation, his explosive embodiment of the music in motion, emotion, majesty and metaphor. I know the man’s soul.
What drove Michael? What kept him loyal to his message through some of the most laser focused unkindness, betrayal and ridicule I have ever witnessed in the world? What sustained him? What did he tap into? The film reveals his source when Michael, knowing he is rehearsing, holds back from performing full out, and you get a feel for the tide he is stemming. Watching his body move because it can’t NOT move, the light dawns. Whatever it was, it didn’t come from Michael; it came through him.
His talent painted feelings, conveyed sensation, became a portal for the vision of what is possible if we all just recognize what drives us, breathes us, what gives us life and being.
Michael was obviously an empath. When Michael felt, it was acutely, exquisitely. He may have been synesthesic as well processing through more than one sensory neural channel at a time: “and the pain is thunder.” Maybe Michael Jackson was following light that we couldn’t see, music that we couldn’t hear, and feelings that we couldn’t access and perhaps simultaneously. Michael’s lyrics are prayer.
Synesthesia may even explain his grounding of the music in his body in the lower chakras (energy centers), as that is where the seat of emotion lives.
Michael said dancing brought him in touch with the Divine impulse. That is not the first time the world has heard of that phenomena - Kundalini, spiritual energy that ascends the backbone to the brain, originates in the lower groin area; Sufis and dervishes whirl to create a vortex for spiritual energy: indigenous cultures use drumbeat and dance.
Michael’s Man in the Mirror is a Gandhi-esque message to be the change you wish to see in the world. I “got it” courtesy of Michael: about the mirror; about shadow; about reflection of self in the world. We see in the world as who we are being. For some, Michael was their everything, for others he would never be enough. And still others will see the reflection of their own darkness. Michael Jackson embodied Light, Shadow, Bright Shadow, the Divine Feminine, the aggressive masculine and androgyny.
He was born into a world too far gone from innocence to embrace it; too distant from naiveté to tolerate it in an adult; too cynical to believe Michael’s own words; too tainted to embrace the sensitive Peter Pan man who understood too well the world’s intolerance to blemish - he wore it in his face. How did he live in a world where dark minds made him things that he never was and couldn’t imagine? How did he show up for life ... in a world with so much shadow? When that shadow turned on him? How did Michael never give up on the world? On us? And how is it that Michael was coming back to try one last time saying This Is It? Is the irony of that clear enough?
Who now will be our planetary human cheerleader? Our global humanitarian? Who among us can amass millions to catch the vision and carry it forward? Who now in our world is capable of that? This is it? See the movie and then tune to your inner Michael. Whatever you thought about Michael Jackson is correct because it is more about who you are being than it is about Michael because he wasn’t just the man in the mirror, he was the mirror.
Barbara Kaufmann is an award winning writer, artist and poet whose passion is “writing to simply change the world.” To read more of her thoughts about Michael Jackson and more, visit: www.onewordsmith.com
Source: MJFC / Nature’s Pathways