Friday, June 24, 2011


This article originally published at ;

No One Who Was Normal Ever Made History:  A Tribute To Michael Jackson

 by James Arthur Ray

Very few people could understand Michael's enigmatic life, and I'm not suggesting that I'm unique in that regard. However, as a student of history, what I do understand is that Michael's life, when considered within the broader scope of highly creative people throughout history, was not really that unusual after all. 

For instance, let's consider Friedrich Nietzche, the German existentialist born in 1844. Throughout his life, he was considered very controversial for his day. His ideas on God made him a complete outcast to the conservative majority of his day. In college, I devoured Nietzsche mostly because he was provocative and deep. I also thought it was cool to be controversial. Ultimately, Nietzsche suffered a psychotic breakdown, had two strokes which partially paralyzed him and died of pneumonia, still in his 50s. 

Consider Walt Whitman, the 19th century transcentalist poet who continues to be one of the most influential poets in the world today. Yet in his time, many thought him to be a madman. His homosexuality or possible bisexuality just didn't fly in the Civil War years. He refused to commit himself to any one religion, stating that all were equally valuable. He spent considerable time alone, and after suffering a stroke near the end of his life, he was too weak to even lift a fork and knife. He died of pneumonia as well. 

In the realm of religion, consider the Christian prophet, the man known as Jesus. He was born of Jewish descent, and yet he was constantly breaking Jewish laws and butting heads with the religious leaders of his own heritage. Jesus too is documented on several occasions as going off by himself and spending significant time in solitude. In one particular case, he spent 40 days and nights in the desert fasting. Pretty extreme. As you know, he was ultimately sentenced death by crucifixion. 

The point is that those who leave a major impact on the world are not marching to the same drum as the mass majority. It's well known in the studies of human consciousness that, to quote Ken Wilbur, "the greater the depth you have, the less the span." 

In other words, when you're supremely brilliant in one particular area, you may show deficits in other areas. Read accounts of Einstein getting lost on his own campus walking from one class to the next, and you'll see the structure of genius takes tremendous depth while often leaving little room for the "less important" issues of life. What often appears to be dysfunctional to the mass majority may just be the hyper-functional behaviors of a true genius with great depth in his field and a lack of concern or ability to relate in the more mundane things of life. 

So here's to the memory of a musical genius, a unique human being that will be an icon for generations. May we always remember as Michael told us in his music that to make a positive change in the world, we must first start with "the man in the mirror." Thank you, Michael. May you find the peace in the next life that you rightly deserve. You made a positive difference. You leave a lasting legacy. While few understood you, you ignited our spirit and touched our emotions with your upbeat message and music. Your gifts will continue to play in our minds forever.

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