Saturday, August 28, 2010
In recognition of Michael Jackson’s birthday many radio stations have been playing his unforgettable hits to commemorate the day this incomparable talent came to earth. And I’ve been thinking, this boy went through hell! I’m sure he had numerous fantastical experiences that only his kind of lifestyle could create, but the pain this man must have been carrying, even on a subconscious level, that became more and more visible to the public, was profound. But through it all, when listening to his musical magic, one can tell that whatever he was going through he never lost his soul.
Now, his peace of mind, his perception of reality, his self image-those priceless personal commodities seemed to have eluded the King of Pop, at least intermittently. But when you listen to his music from the early days to the final days, Michael Jackson never lost his soul; his rhythm, his flow, his indescribable thing that when asked, “Can You Feel it?” the answer undoubtedly has to be, “Hell yes!”
We are living in crazy times. Planes are dropping out the sky, there’s a devastating natural disaster every few months, people are flipping out on their jobs and shooting folks up, marriages are dissolving, friends are being betrayed by friends, and family members are severing ties over years of unspoken and unaddressed hurt. There’s a lot going on and more people than we realize are walking around with unattended wounds. People are getting up, eating some eggs, throwing some coffee down their throats and stepping into yet another day of a life they’re tolerating and not living or loving; all while carrying a host of hurts, insecurities and unresolved emotional infirmities.
With everything we are all going through (and trust me everyone has or has had something on their heart) that can wear you down and erode your spirit, we must try to never lose our soul; our rhythm our flow, our thing that gives us our luminosity, even if it’s become just a (momentary) glimmer.
Some days it can be hard just to get out of bed let alone attempt to stay focused in the struggle and be determined not lose our way. But Michael Jackson, through it all found a way to stay present when utilizing his gifts that not only entertained us, but moved, inspired and spiritually transported us to his musical relm. So in remembering MJ, I would like to salute this brother’s soul, and let it serve as a motivation in the midst of the struggle, (whatever it is) to fan that flame, and keep the glow!
What about Michael Jackson has inspired you?
Sunday, August 15, 2010
The movie “Eat, Pray, Love” is based on Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir about her realization that she’s lost her passion for life and in essence herself. Gilbert decides to go abroad and eats her way through Italy, prays her way through India, and finds love in Bali. The film “Eat, Pray, Love” is not as fulfilling or emotionally detailed as the book. Visually the movie is stunning and inspires wanderlust among any of us who’ve wished we could do a Lenny Kravitz when things get tough and “Fly Away”. But other than the lush scenery, the movie comes off like my friend hilariously put it, “white girl problems.”
I was late getting on the “Eat, Pray, Love” bandwagon. Once something gets really trendy or popular I tend to back off—just one of my many weird (charming) quirks. Aside from my tendency to pass on cultural “movements”, (I still don’t have, nor do I intend to get an iPhone) I’m uncertain of why I opposed picking up this book. Whatever the reason, my defiance was defeated by a strange cosmic event.
After a long and somewhat disappointing day I went to Borders. (Yes, I become “Super Nerd” when I’m stressed and head to the bookstore for comfort.) I saw that “Eat Pray, Love” was in paperback. I thought of getting it, and though something about the book held my attention, I decided to keep my money. I went home and only hours later the book appeared in my mail box. A friend sent it to me thinking I’d enjoy it, and I did. I was swept up in Elizabeth Gilbert’s search for her soul. Damn! I was strapped into this bandwagon! But though I could relate to Gilbert’s struggle, her means of dealing with it didn’t resonate. And the film, that left out some pertinent events from the book that I believe would have given it more depth, came across as, yes, “white girl problems”.
How many of us black women who are going through something can truly afford to pack up and leave our lives and jet off to three different countries for a year in search of spiritual growth? It’s funny because I was having a conversation with my neighbor who said though he tries to be compassionate when his white friends recount their struggles, he’s felt their troubles haven’t really been all that troubling in comparison to the many stories he’s heard from his black friends. He made me laugh as he told me he’s found himself thinking, You got addicted to heroin over that? And we talked about whether or not African Americans are just inherently stronger than our white counterparts. Well, in some respects yes, our experience in this country has called us to be exceptionally strong. But pain is pain, and it’s all relative. But I did find myself agreeing somewhat with Viola Davis (yes the token black in the movie), who plays Gilbert’s friend when she basically tells her, “Listen, you get married in your twenties, you become a different person in your thirties, and you realize you’re not happy. You get a divorce, pick yourself up and move on.” Yep, in true black girl, “we don’t have time to be falling apart up in here” style.
Over the past two years I’ve had my own journey of self discovery as I’ve faced the recession with no steady employment and had to define myself for myself absent of any perceived security. I’ve had to figure out, “Who am I without one sure thing in my life?” And it’s been a slow expedition to get to those answers. But I, like many black women (and I suspect many other women), didn’t have the luxury of traipsing off to foreign lands. I ate. I didn't have plates of authentic Italian pasta, but pints of Ben and Jerry’s trying to soothe my soul with some sweet creamy spoonfuls of temporary pleasure; not in Italy, but right in my small Brooklyn apartment. And I prayed; not in India, but in Fort Greene when I decided to go back to church. (I’ve since stopped.) And I loved. I didn’t travel to Bali; I only made it to the Bronx.
I, like many women have been brought to a place of surrender. But like many black women I haven’t had the luxury of indulging in my confusion very long and had to indeed press on in my immediate surroundings. And more than likely, that’s how most of us have to deal when life kicks our collective ass. So though the book is more profound, the movie “Eat, Pray, Love” comes across as a middle class white woman who breaks down over, um, nothing all that damn serious.
Oh well ladies, if you get a chance to leave on a jet plane to address your internal struggles by all means go! But if in fact your pocket doesn’t allow for such extravagances, just know that all you need to “crossover” is in fact right here where you are.
Have you seen the movie? What did you think?