I could write one thousand pages worth of sentiment and still never fully convey the impact that Michael Jackson has had on me throughout my life. Like millions of other fans around the globe, I was shocked to learn of the recent passing of this amazing artist and unforgettable human being. As a writer, it occurred to me that I should act expeditiously to pay tribute to the man whose musical genius has inspired me for as long as I can remember.
Quite frustrating for me was the fact that the more I brainstormed to conceptualize a worthwhile tribute, the more I appeared to come up short. There simply were no words that seemed eloquent enough, no lines crafty enough, and no ideas profound enough to do justice to Michael Jackson. What did reverberate through my mind however, were Michael Jackson’s own thoughts about writing, which he shared a couple of years ago with writer Bryan Monroe during an interview for Ebony Magazine:
“The key to being a wonderful writer is not to write. You just get out the way. Leave room for God to walk in the room. And when I write something that I know is right, I get on my knees and say thank you.”
This powerful reflection on raw creativity and pure gratitude is something that I will carry with me for the remainder of my existence. I may not fully remember the first time I ever attended a Jackson 5 concert as a tiny toddler around the age of four (though my Mom tells me that I screamed louder than many of the teenagers and grown women there, insisting that Michael – a teen heartthrob at that time – was singing directly to me). I may not remember every tidbit about his exciting yet complex life, much of which has been made visible to the public eye over the years. What I will always remember about Michael Jackson is the fact that every time he wrote and performed, he did so from his soul.
That which one gives from their soul never dies. A person’s physical being – like that of any other life form – will ultimately expire. At the same time, that which they have given from their soul continues to live within each and every person whose life they have touched. That is why one can turn on the television or tune into YouTube and see people all over the world paying tribute to Michael Jackson – singing his songs, imitating his dance moves and sharing favorite MJ memories.
Whether we are parents, friends, coaches, mentors, employees or employers, teachers or students, we all have the ability to touch one or more people’s lives by giving from our soul. This is one of the greatest ways in which we can have a lasting impact on those we love, the people in our communities and the world at large.
Thank you, Michael Jackson, for teaching us by example a fundamental lesson about life. And most of all, thank you for choosing to live with passion and purpose.
Monroe, Bryan. Q&A: Michael Jackson in His Own Words. Ebony Magazine. December 1, 2007.