Friday, August 6, 2010

michael, may you now be at peace: a reflection (no. 78)

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it's been almost 10 years... i listened to that speech (or as you said, "lecture") again, with tears in my eyes. the profundity, the gentleness, the sincerity; these are all things i saw previously, in watching your lesson at oxford. and of course with every listen (or read) i get a different perspective.

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in listening to it just now, i grapple with you not being here, as your message was so timeless... which really means you haven't left at all. i go back to the comment about your age though. you were 42... you were just here... that you gave one of your greatest lessons to the world at the age of 42 is testament to your quest to move inward, in order to gain a better grasp of the world surrounding you. to admit, overall, the process of self-discovery is one of the greatest things a teacher could do. as so many have considered you the sweetest person on earth; for you to admit the struggles you've had in forgiveness (in terms of your father) lends to that drive to connect us all. the acknowledgment that there are even issues you need to deal with before you can truly forgive anyone else is again, what connects us as 'children of the earth'.

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what moved me so this time was listening to you cry, when ruminating upon the relationship with your father... this always moves me; this time i began to think of the relationship with my own mother. as you know we have also had a pained history... when i spoke with her for the book it ended up being the greatest conversation i ever had with her, and it was the impetus for a long journey of healing with her. when you spoke of forgiveness in relation to your father i simply related this to my own desire to forgive my mother, and know that she has struggled as well.

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that moment with my mother was the summit- it was the key which opened the lock on our emotional housings... we both closed off because we have both been hurt. you were the gate which was the bridge between us in which to open. it was you who bonded us.

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and listening to the lesson/lecture for another time was the apex to a long day... where i met a girl named harmony . she was taking photographs of a recently-run over squirrel... it looked as if he was hit, then decided to drag himself over to the side of the road to live out his last seconds. he was definitely in a better place. it looked as if his eyes were missing... as if they sunk into his body. it was a sad moment. harmony also took a picture of the little michael doll on his little bicycle. we then began to speak about captain EO and such. she appeared ready to embrace your teachings. i have been having a lot more of these moments of spontaneity as of late...

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there isn't a lot of video footage of you at oxford that i have seen... there is some. it's interesting, because despite the message of hope in the lesson, your body language and face read the contrary. you looked absolutely drained and distraught in the images i have seen. i could imagine the great concern you had, hoping that others will hear your message as opposed to vying for a piece of the character they knew of as 'michael jackson'(tm). also, to present this aspect of yourself in this way is to be truly vulnerable. would people recognize this if they are simply screaming out to you?

the thing to do here is meditate... meditate in order to not physically confront the numerous energies to pass your day. meditate to bring yourself back to the centre.

love,
jamilah

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Thursday, August 5, 2010

michael, may you now be at peace: a reflection (no. 77)

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michael, this is our 77th conversation... and just as in the 7th month of your transition, there have been revelatory moments. according to st. augustine, the number 77 represents the "last limit of sin" (or 'the perfection of sin'); will all the events which occurred recently now open up to an energy of love?

looking into some interpretations of this number, i found some not-so-positive things: how u.s. highway 77 is the site close to where many unfortunate events occured (such as the oklahoma city bombing (and incidents leading up to, and after the bombing). however, i also see the number 7 described as having spiritual connotations. in this case, the number 77 represents "spiritual awareness; ...spiritual conduit and an agent of change" (according to allexperts.com); and according to numberquest.com, this number represents the "wise counsel, body as temple, mystical powers in action, purity in mind, body and spirit, master mystic, loving detachment, holy emptiness, turning away from the masses and towards spirit, presence, conscious union with God, mystical marriage, electricity of awakening, universal intelligence."

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there's always these symbolic moments which prompt stark realizations. where is it that i want to be? this may sound funny, but i see you. i stare at your images, not as an aspect of fantasy; what i observe are ripples of energy. photographs are simply captured in seconds; they can never be based in an absolute reality, as there are many realities for many people. photographs are brief replicas of a specific event; which can be modified, according to aperture, film stock or studio work. our interpretation is only as far as our vision. one thing which cannot be transformed is energy.

the second a camera recognized your face, there was a focus on the face. it's always said that photographs steal the soul, but i believe the contrary. simply because the focus is usually not on the soul.

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just as the focus of the industry you were involved in was not focused on the soul. a person whose soul transcends an environment conducive to destruction is bound to forever remain, whether or not the industry remains. i stare and stare at your images; i stare into your beautiful, forlorn eyes, and with just that i feel thankful to have you in my life. what attracts me to those photographs is your energy.

needless to say, i became acquainted with you (in an incarnation relative to now) in a year ending with the number 7. a coincidence, possibly. still, everything happens for a reason.

and when i read what i did, it re-confirmed my belief that the soul cannot be stolen, if it's already permeated our psyches.

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"how you gonna release michael jackson when michael jackson ain't here to bless it? ... that's bad."

these are the words of a certain will.i.am, in response to the 'posthumous' releases of your teachings. the fact that he said this gives me a respect for him i did not necessarily have. the respect lies in the fact that he is set to gain, financially, a substantial amount if the songs he worked on with you were to be released; and he is consciously rejecting this notion out of respect for you. it's also a relief to know that i am not alone in my vocal opposition to the capitalization of your teachings. he considered those who plan to release your works posthumously to be a set of "parasites". "now that he is not part of the process, what are they doing? why would you put a record out like that? ...so what? how much can you suck from [michael's] energy? ... what's wrong with what he already contributed to the world? he wouldn't have wanted it that way."

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this is what i mean... your soul resonates with those who choose to see it. those who capitalize on your teachings, i don't believe ever recognized its crucial presence.

i see you. i recognize you. i feel a quake in my spine, straight into my belly. this, a simple photograph cannot do. this, a simple song cannot do, unless those notes are recognized as a series of vibrations... when music becomes life. when music converges with image; born from a series of atoms. those atoms split in order to reveal those universal narratives.

with this, i suppose there is such a thing as sucking one's soul, just as there is such a thing as depleting the earth's energy. however, no matter how much you make attempts to eliminate and camouflage/suppress truth (and THE truth of love), it's always lurking...

and you can't suppress what you already contributed to the world.

love,
jamilah

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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

michael, may you now be at peace: a reflection (no. 76)

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my muscles still ache somehow... it seems to be worse than yesterday. i can only imagine how you felt, performing night after night on stage with arthritic joints. your arches must have been ravished. all i know is that my shoulder and neck are killing me. a little arnica should assist in the healing.

i do wonder if, the older i get the more emotional pain could be intermingled with the physical... or is it just a sign of getting older? i'm at that age where i could still be considered 'a baby', and yet the social expectations for me to have 'a spouse, a house, children and a career' hover, ever so near. i am at a crossroads, and my shoulder is informing me of this fact. i must make the decision to heal what aches.

the same goes for my heart, and my spirit.

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i realized, right after i spoke with you yesterday, where i needed to be. i suppose i was alluding to this yesterday, but it became so clear to me: i want really bad to be a parent. i also intend for this little one to be raised by someone other than myself- a companion. a person i can share my life and experiences with. however... i am not looking for a 'mate'. this situation is not as contradictory, or as complicated as i think it is.

a companion is something i have searched for my whole life. the desire to entertain the trappings of a romantic relationship was never as large a priority. it was easy for me to make the two interchangeable though, because i figured that was the way to be the closest to someone, and consistently remain close to them over the years; so many people i considered friends- people who were at least a decade my senior- were getting married and having children. even at such a young age, i felt left out. at this age, due to my minimal experience, i came to the conclusion that falling in love guaranteed instant rejection. in a funny way i took comfort in that, knowing i wouldn't have to deal with the 'trappings of romance'. still, the hurt in rejection was extreme, where it occasionally isolated me from the world outside. i pursued and pursued until i made the decision to remain silent on my feelings for someone, to the point where there are no feelings at all. it may have not been the most pro-active thing to do, but at least i avoided rejection...

...all this to get to the place i am now. perhaps i have willed myself into avoiding rejection so much that i hold no stock in 'romantic' relationships at this point. i'm perfectly okay with being the 'kid sister' to my friends and acquaintances, as they still marry and raise children of their own. HOWEVER i realize, this approach i am taking does not warrant an action from me, to deal with my own growing desire to be a mother. people raising children together outside of romantic relationships is far from a novel idea (that is certainly something you did in your own life); my lack of experience in this is prompting difficulty in my knowing how to approach that.

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even though the life i live is contrary to how i (and many others) was conditioned to respond to social situations; i do wonder if there is something to be said for the social relations between the genders... i keep hearing "this is how men do things, and this is how women do things". acknowledging that the concept of gender is in and of itself socialized (and that some people don't even consider themselves to take part in these constructions); i wonder if, the older i get, these constructions have taken root, even for the people in my life who for the most part reject most major (mainstream) social structures.

and then... i refer back to you. it's like, "it worked for michael! he wasn't affected by these constructions! he rejected so many of them!" and then i jump back to reality and realize that in many ways, you have not. and neither have i.

your experiences, just like mine, have definitely prompted you to question a lot of these constructions. how you view relationships; how children were a crucial aspect of your life's philosophy... your work ethic. but then, you desired to be with someone. you longed for the feeling of companionship. to be touched, to be loved. this is something which is inescapable it seems. all living species need companionship; and to another extent, all living species share the need to reproduce and see that their accomplishments have left a better impact than they.

these are things i have fought for the longest time, and now it's all catching up with me. as diana ross (as dorothy) lamented in 'the wiz': "is this what feeling gets?"

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it's an arduous thing sometimes, to have feelings. you concealed yours quite well sometimes, behind glasses, layers of jackets or emblems, or on a stage. but sometimes, when you allowed yourself to be unadorned- when those glasses came off in 1984 ("for the girls in the balcony"), when you looked into children's eyes at orphanages; and yes, all those times you stood next to diana ross- you revealed so much more than you perhaps wanted to- or will ever know.

yes, to have feelings means that exposure (or nakedness) is inevitable. and that includes a possibility of rejection. "looking around in the lost and found of the heart". thus, the catch 22. where do people like us fit in?

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sometimes you scream. sometimes you cry. sometimes you hit things. sometimes you withdraw. and ALL the time you just chalk it up to being a part of life. people will never understand you. oh well. such is life.

but is this really to be? everything has the potential for change, right?

i ran into a good friend of mine, as i was coming home from work. we walked together a bit, as she was also on a destination. we both revealed what was going on with the both of us. what ended up happening; she will never know how grateful i am to her. in speaking with her about her own struggles i saw the potential for my own ability to see light.

i see so much light in her (and in others), but don't always see it in myself. "you have so much love to give, you have so much love within you" she said. it was when she said that, it really hit me. i realized that part of this lay in my not wanting to give love to just one person. i want companionship, but i do not want to be tied to one person, in terms of how we are conditioned to view companionship. i want to give the love i have to share to the children, to the cats, to people who are hungry. to others who are struggling emotionally.

i love my friend so much. she has been there for me in my darkest hours, when i lost the desire to just get out of bed (and live). we had some struggles in recent times; and when i saw her i wanted her to know that everything was alright. i was there for her (as i always had been). i wanted her to see her own beauty, her own light. we embraced in the street for the longest time.

that is all i want: is to know that others see their potential to see light. this is mainly what companionship is to me. she said that she saw the light in me. she told me that it was you who really assisted me in getting there. THIS IS WHAT SHE SAID. so many of the doubts i had about myself in relation to my dedication to you just slid away. i didn't feel like such a crazy person.

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still... i don't always see this light in myself. i struggle with what i could do, how i look, how i relate to others...

"before you judge me, try hard to love me." really, i must say this to myself. i have so much love to give to others, but i don't find enough time to give it to myself. the truth is, i don't know how to get there. i don't know how. and that hurts.

feelings...

love,
jamilah

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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

michael, may you now be at peace: a reflection (no. 75)

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when i got home, the pains subsided... i couldn't tell if it was the food i ate, or gas, or something else. as i got ready to get into bed to rest off the pain, i felt most of it subside. it was here i attributed everything to nerves.


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i know this may appear monotonous, but at this moment i realized how much my connection with you does affect my relationships. this is not saying that you prevent me from forming relationships with others; from that moment we formally met (back in february) though, i became extremely sensitive to the energy around me. i am working through a lot again, in terms of finding comfort within myself to deal with others. i go through periods where i want to withdraw from the world around me... lately, i have a need to connect with others.

i always wonder if those i connect with will grasp my dedication to you. or if my dedication to you is a hindrance. because of the person you are and the absence of your physical state it may be interpreted that my sense of 'reality' has diminished. of course, your teachings are eternal; but since we are conditioned to focus on the physical form the concept of me having a relationship with you could be deemed 'nonsensical'.

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at times, this leads to the core of my recent sadness. i have moments where i find great difficulty in dealing with 'the outside world'. but my relationship with you consists of different dynamics. because we are now dealing with vibrations. this is something i don't always know how to vocalize; therefore i feel isolated even from those who say they love you. much of our relationship requires little to no words. it is these moments where i just feel you, and i know you're there, observing this plane in which you were violently taken away from.

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i still do feel bouts of great sorrow when i see you; not necessarily because your brilliant spirit, which perpetuated sowing the seeds of positive global transformation was expunged from our immediate physical consciousness- this is nothing new; this consistently happens to our brightest spirits. it's not even necessarily because we've never met when you were physically here.

it's because when i speak these words to you, i do not know what words you speak in response. i cannot hear your screams, your tears, your laughter. all which physically manifests itself is the past. i do my best to look towards the future, but all i do is stare at your many images, to get a sense of the possibility of what i imagine to be a corresponding set of declarations.

all i can do is tell you every day that i love you, and hope you don't find my own declaration to be insincere. all i can do to do my best to present to the world what you have taught me.

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as i write this i spend a significant amount of time observing your looks over the years... despite the changes your facial structure has not altered much. whether or not you choose to admit it, your genes are distinct. even though, like many of us in this country you come from mixed heritage; your beautiful african features have remained... these features define more than physicality. you can hear it in your cadence, you can detect this in your actions. you represent the universal nature of us.

most of all, you are able to witness all this in your eyes, bearing lifetimes of our struggles and joys. through those eyes you have connected generations. this is one of the reasons i know i mustn't focus on you not being here, to the point where i am unable to live... you have been a lifetime of grandparents, friends, lovers- teachers.

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i feel the same way about your hands... i love to look at them. i find them to be more interesting than my own (i suppose i can say that a lot about myself, as i find a lot of things about you more interesting than myself). to see them is to see a narrative in not just how you lived in this life; but it's also a narrative, again, of other lives. i see a man, hardened by life on the road (be it the railroad, construction or even the stage), rarely having a chance to sit down to a hearty meal. i see the hangnails and the brittleness, and it makes me think of my stepfather's father. he was so kind to me, amongst everyone else's cruelty. he was the one who, whenever i burnt the toast (and i did it a lot) told me that burnt toast was good for you. he was the one who let me watch him build things in the house, as he patiently answered my questions.

those large, brittle hands of yours are comforting to me. the age spots and the puffiness are comforting to me. i recognize that how your hands looked may have been a symbol of poor health. but i also enjoyed the contradiction in them- just like your shoes. there were times you dressed regally, when the shoes you wore were worn down. this is important to note, as you always wanted people to watch your feet as you danced. your hands were a symbol, that you were just as vulnerable as the rest of us; if anyone were to truly believe you were immortal, they'd be forced to confront the inevitable cycle (which escapes no one) by looking at those great palms.

i find comfort in the magnitude and the coarseness of your hands. these are hands which built a landscape of possibilities. when i hear your hands being used rhythmically in a piece of music i know that you are in tune with the spirits. with your elders, your ancestors.

i knew upon reading your autopsy, they would never do justice to those hands. i cannot say if anyone ever did.


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and of course, i woke up today, with my right side in pain. i rested with stomach pains and greeted the next day with muscular pain. after running a few errands around the house i took a long nap, awaking to do even more errands. in the course of this i wondered what you thought i meant to you, and what i actually meant to you. and what you mean to me. can this sort of relationship we have last, in an environment like this? what do others actually think when they read these conversations here? do any of these questions actually matter?

still, i begin to feel like i am crazy sometimes, because i wonder how much of my current relationships with others happen to be guided by you. i wonder how much others tolerate my dedication to you. will there ever be someone in my life who fully accepts this?

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having experienced panic attacks over several times in my life (they began in adulthood, as far as i know), i sense a lot of the current physical pain i am feeling to bear some sort of relation to anxiety. the funny thing is, with my emotions surrounding the desire for children as well, i think about the phenomena of pseudocyesis, which is, 'false pregnancy'. i don't think THAT is happening to me, but i feel myself changing in ways which make me think about it.

i'm feeling anxious about going out in the world and relating to people in this way. is it 'time' for me to find a 'mate' to raise children with? is that necessary? how is this even possible, when it's hard for me to even get close to people enough for that? the thought frightens me.

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the idea of making myself totally available to someone is absolutely frightening. as i mentioned to you before, when this happens it usually ends up in rejection. i refuse to let that happen again. there is a certain point where i close myself off to people. i don't know who is going to make themselves totally available to me either.

am i really at a point in life where i have to make a decision? i'm still so young, but at the same time life is passing me by. as i said the other day, i am the same age you were when you began to openly discuss this moment in your life as well; namely, in the leaked telephone conversation you had with someone named glenda. unfortunately, the tapes were leaked. yes, i did hear them. but when i did hear them i felt i was not alone.

"I want to be with someone... I want to know what a relationship is all about before I die... I never had... I know, I have never had a real relationship, my brothers have been married... My brothers have had girlfriends I really haven't had that... I just ... wanna know what its like... to have a real relationship with someone who doesn't want me for me.... that I don't, I don't have to look over my shoulder all the time... that doesn't question me.. I mean... I don't... and, and.. like La Toya said in her book.. she said, either I am going to have to find somebody who doesn't know who the heck I am... or deal with somebody who's career is equally as important, or equally like mine..."

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granted, i suppose i actually HAVE been in a 'real' relationship, with someone who actually DID want to marry me... and i admit that i did initiate that relationship because i was frightened that i would never know what it felt like to be in one (prior to this relationship the same things said about you were said about me- that i was gay, asexual, etc.; and frankly, even AFTER that relationship the same things are said). in the course of that relationship it became abusive- the cycle i saw with the rest of my family continued, so i decided to cease the experience. and so now, the fear i had in getting close to people prior to this specific relationship has returned, triple-fold. as i mentioned to you, i don't want to experience love as a form of domination.

and like you, i want to know what it feels like to feel 'real love'. we are encouraged in this society to find it in the arms of someone we don't know. this is where i choose not to be. as i said, in terms of people and relationships, i have very little knowledge. even if i HAVE been in a 'real' relationship at some point in my life, it's still a world i am not used to. because really, it didn't seem real to me.

but i feel trapped, because my desire to have children is killing me... and i do not want to raise a child alone. and yet i hold no true desire to find a 'mate'. it's like, if it happens it does. but really, even though it would be nice to know what 'real love' feels like, i realized that the fine line falls between you and that person who can fully accept my dedication to you. and i'm not sure if another person could accept that. i mean, it's not just you; it's a lot of things which color my reasoning which have absolutely nothing to do with you- some of this has to do with how i feel about myself, and my experiences. still, my dedication to you does drive a lot of this. "if you love me, you have to accept that michael will be there too."

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i've accepted years ago (after this particular 'real' relationship) that i may never experience another. with that, i have chosen to focus my energies elsewhere (and i met a wonderful cat in the process). and i WAS doing that... of course, in the midst of all this i happened to meet YOU, in the incarnation i did. and my life took on a vastly different journey. the contrast in many ways was startling.

and with you, this is the journey i choose to continue to take. it's been a long road, and there's a whole lot of work which needs to be done (and a lot of loads which need to be lightened); but i am doing the best i can with what i have. i thank you for travelling with me and holding my hand (with your own beautiful, large, brittle, hangnailed ones).

love,
jamilah

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Saturday, July 31, 2010

michael, may you now be at peace: a reflection (no. 74)

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after i got off the phone with my sister the other night i had to step back, reflect and ask, is it really that bad...?

it's quite a long story, but it has to do with my extensive relationship with death. no, not death in its archetypal form- well yes, that too. but i am referring more to that way in which those of us who grew up in a consistent environment of abuse must work to maintain a level of 're-birth'. a little of each of us 'dies' each day; but for those of us whose spirits have been buried alive over time, obtaining light at a most opportune moment is crucial.

in your eyes i observe that notion of 're-birth'. in the physical, for you, that may have been through performing. i know it was definitely children. for me, it is also children... and cats. and food. my relationship with food is spotty at best- on many levels it is not eaten for comfort, but to hide. nevertheless i love to cook for others.

but i digress...

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i phoned my sister, as i was sad and i needed someone to talk to... i know i can talk to you, but obviously our interactions are of a different element. when she returned my call she was at a friend's house. i didn't want to go into details at that moment (since i knew she was not by herself); nevertheless i responded to her inquiry of "what's up?"

and just as i knew what was to come, did come. "why don't you just conceive then," was essentially her friend's response. my sister, of course, reiterated this assessment. after a few moments of review (without going into much detail) my sister concluded the conversation with, "i'll call you to make sure you didn't jump off a building."

my sister actually says that a lot to me (she even said it referring to my grieving of your transcendence). somehow, it affected me more this time, not only because i thought of the contradiction of me killing myself over the desire to have children in my life; but also because of her expectation that i make attempts to commit suicide every time i feel the slightest tinge of sorrow. it caused me to step back and ask if i ever grew tired of physically living due to my thinking that i'll never be a mother. i also had to ask, do i really seem that sad to my sister?

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i struggle so much with this motherhood thing; due to the responses i don't really expect anyone to grasp anything going on in my mind, despite its simplicity. i have an increasingly intense desire to be a mother and yet, my desire to give birth (or lack thereof) greatly counters this. i could work on getting a job at a nursery, as many have suggested. this would satiate my maternal desires only temporary... as simple as this all is (at least to me), there are so many layers to this narrative. and frankly, i'm not sure where to go.

adopt? i would have done so long ago, if i were able to.

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we've discussed the baby thing several times; i don't need to repeat anything to you. it's funny; because i am now the same age you approached the 'fourth phase' of your artistic life: the 'post-quincy jones' phase, where you assert yourself in another creative form. this is that constant 're-birth' i am speaking of. it is also the period where you began to clearly say "i'm not getting any younger, i need children in my life." i always imagine the sense of loss for you, being around so many children yet having none to raise as your own.

when you actually did assume a theoretical role of a father it got you into trouble, as the ways we define family are so limiting. it was either that your relationship with the children was seen as either infringing on the roles of the biological fathers (thereby presenting charges of child abuse); or it was that you had a 'secret child' as a result of affairs with numerous women.

i can only imagine the limitations you felt you had in terms of a societal rejection of paternal roles with a bit of a maternal sensibility. this is one of the many reasons people were so confused by you. it's difficult to accept a man of your stature not biologically fathering many children (when you could have any lady you want, of course), yet desiring to take on a role of fatherhood, with or without a wife.

so, of course, you were gay; you abused children; you were asexual... there's nothing wrong with two of those three things (if that is how you chose to live your life), but still... to cast aspersions due to our own hopes of what we wish someone to be is one of the least pro-active things we can do. thereby, you also were a lover amongst lovers, with girls on your arm, even right before your transcendence.

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"Needless to say, I love the interaction between the sexes; it is a natural part of life and I love women. I just think that when sex is used as a form of blackmail or power, it's a repugnant use of one of God's gifts. " the thing is, michael, even as this was said, this is difficult for some to grasp. our conditioning of how sex works is so narrow. and because of how sexual relationships are portrayed, we identify in these relationships who is the 'top' and who is the 'bottom'. who is the 'dominant' and who is the 'submissive'. rarely do we ever hear about an equilibrium. even in issues of rape (which has absolutely nothing to do with sex), the rapist gets accused of performing an 'unlawful sex act'.

in many ways i hold this belief; that sex is interspersed with power and dominance. i've seen this throughout my whole life; growing up as a child, and in my adult life as well . it's something i struggle with on many levels. growing up, i thought it was all bad. it was done to hurt or control people. even as an adult i saw the damage. as i got older i did see that some people had successful relationships. still, to me, sexual relationships are extremely private. i prefer those relationships to remain between those involved. i even cringe at public displays of romantic affection, because now everyone can see such a private act. again casting aspersions, people have critiqued me, saying, "well you just haven't found the right person yet." to me, it's not about that. i'm just an old-fashioned person, i guess. with that, there's a lot about relationships i don't know. admittedly i'm naive about many things.

because of this, i wonder if i would even be a good mother. would i shelter my children too much? would they resent me? would i be too controlling? if i ever were to have children in my life would i have someone in my life to share this experience with? would this person in my life share the same connection to our relationship?

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not being a mother right now is really killing me. there is an emptiness i cannot explain. it's not an emptiness of the womb though. i keep saying this, and i don't know if anyone believes me. the truth is, i have an extreme fear of becoming pregnant. if it happens, it happens. there are things i fear more. still, i am filled with distress due to the potentiality of pregnancy. this is called tocophobia (or tokophobia). it's not even that i find pregnancy or childbirth repulsive... i think those are extremely beautiful things- just not for me. it also has nothing to do with pregnancy 'changing my figure'. i'm not concerned with that.

again, i can only imagine your emptiness as the years passed. people demanded so much of you as a performer but all you wanted was to have children, to enhance your life.

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when i finish writing this to you the day my niece (my sister's daughter) was brought to us here on this plane will be here; she will be 9 years old. it makes me so sad that i have not been able to watch her grow, to watch her learn. to only speak with her over the telephone. i don't know if anything i've said to her has retained... she is such a smart, sensitive person though. she is someone of great strength. i know that she's been through some pain, in a former life- and even in this one.

knowing that her day was approaching, i did feel quite sad. i feel as if i'm missing something my sister has the opportunity to celebrate- the existence of her CHILD. i don't feel jealousy toward my sister- that would make NO sense, as my sister has nothing to do with whatever anxieties i am having. i just feel a well of inexplicable sorrow, or anguish at the possibility i'll never have those moments. and that i'll never have a child in my life unless i experience what i fear.

how does one measure the desire to have children with the fear of taking part in that 'naturally'? are you 'less of' a person because of this? is that really something to be measured?

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"When I was a kid, I was denied not only a childhood, but I was denied love. When I reached out to hug my father, he didn't hug me back. When I was scared on an airplane, he didn't put his arm around me and say, "Michael, don't worry. It's going to be OK." When I was scared to go on stage, he said, "get your ass on that stage." … I will never deny a child love. If it means that I have to be crucified or put in jail for it, then that's just what they're going to have to do."

i won't say i was denied a childhood (i actually DID get to play) but really, that's not the only thing which makes a childhood. i, like you, was denied love. the other thing i fear is that i will smother my child so much with love, they will want to avoid me. i have since settled a lot of these things with my mother, but there is still a deep-seated fear of turning into the parent my mother was when i was growing up (and a still-underlying resentment for her actions), and so i will overcompensate so much to the point of smothering.

i know in some ways i'm not ready to have children, but really, who is? parenthood does not come with a manual. you don't just suddenly discover this degree of readiness just because you want to have children. you must be ready for spontaneity, and committing yourself to this beautiful being.

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"Music has been my outlet, my gift to all of the lovers in this world. Through it — my music, I know I will live forever."

through this idea of commitment, it is not the children who will remain forever. the reasoning for naturally birthing children in order to preserve your legacy is essentially false... if you are focusing solely on the existence of the children. what values have you instilled in them? these are the elements which are eternal.

it's like the music you mentioned. i prefer at this point to refer to them as lessons, as this represents a series of values. looking at this quote, it brought me back to when i was an adolescent, writing love poems for others. people questioned why i chose to write love poems for others, when i didn't have someone in my own life (i was an adolescent, mind you). when you wrote or performed the songs you did, it was assumed you were addressing the lyrics to a 'special lady', as opposed to simply presenting a "gift".

to me, having children bears a responsibility of assuring they become knowledgeable, independent and compassionate (sentient) beings... to be selfless, but not 'self-less'. they must know themselves. to ensure this does not require a direct blood lineage. sure, culturally, there are some factors in lineage which are imperative, but right now i am talking about values. again, in casting aspersions/making assumptions, we disregard or ignore this, and focus on whether or not you are the biological father to your three children.

with this, whether or not we knew each other in this life, i know we have known each other in some other life. i believe in the concept of 'deja vu'. when i began becoming acquainted with you and your teachings in this life, i know i was simply RE-acquainting myself. you were not new to me; but really, getting to know you in this time has certainly felt like a 're-birth', because i have learned so much about myself (by learning about you), as well as opening up to the possibilities of learning more.

"take me back where i belong..."

you have accepted me into your life, and i thank you for this. perhaps my commitment to your teachings is, in some ways, preparation for my commitment to be a parent, no matter how 'unconventional.'

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...and these conversations with you also allow me to return to a place i don't necessarily turn to, due to my long-standing fear of rejection.

home. the heart.

"i wanna come home again." returning to that place of self-empowerment, that space of spontaneity and the potentiality for forgiveness.

"if you can find it in your heart to forgive me..."

it's been happening a lot more lately. i've been allowing the space to let love in. it's quite difficult to do on many levels. i've been trying to spend more time outdoors, and quality time with others whose company i appreciate. walking and bicycle riding and badminton playing, many things...

"take me back where i belong..."

that is with you, living within me. thank you.

love,
jamilah

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

michael, may you now be at peace: a reflection (no. 73)

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what is it... what does it mean, to actually be in... love? i think i felt it for the first time this evening. again.

it's not the same as the romantic love you feel towards another person; where you make concerted efforts to connect, in hopes of a future together... granted, i was about 19 years old when i first explored the potentiality of falling 'in love' with another human. i mean, prior to the age of 19 i had 'crushes' on people, but never did i imagine i'd want to spend the rest of my life with these people. and of course the age of rejection did not just usher in at 19; however it was the first time i recall crying about it.

no, this feeling of love is much more than that. coincidentally, this feeling i am speaking of now also occurred when i was 19: this current moment hearkens back to listening to 'maiden voyage' and 'giant steps' (by hancock and coltrane, respectively) and forever falling in love with music. music was always surrounding me since i physically entered this earth; however, i never actually sat and LISTENED until this point of discovery.

discovery... i mean, you knew what you could do when you performed on that stage in pasadena in 1983... i'm sure you even knew that it was a technique that would capture attention, as it was the first time you were on your own; without your brothers at your side. i'm sure you knew that the coup would be in performing SOLO at a motown event. what i am NOT sure you knew was the amount of impact it would make.

considering your open critique of this moment, it was as if you didn't realize what had happened until this little white child approached you, entranced by your skills. ethnicity actually matters here; what you did on stage contributed to a lengthy lineage of black artists... you embodied the legacies of your ancestors and pieced together something which could be instantly recognizable by your own generation... with that, what you did could never be written in the confines of historical context, since it spans so many generations.

how many of us black folk have seen the backslide on soul train numerous times? how many in britain saw the jeffrey daniel performance a year prior, where he represented all of shalimar and performed this gravitational illusion? STILL, we collectively bolted with excitement as you asserted your independence. despite your well-documented struggles with the label which, outside of your father's management, trained you for the life in the business; you embodied that motown success story- a story not many could tell.

in one fell swoop you reached the goal motown strived for- to reach 'white america', and beyond. this is no small feat, considering the obvious history of this country and its institutional mannerisms. for someone to attain such a feat does not come without challenges and subsequent accusations of losing a sense of 'self/blackness'. still, you rose to the occasion.

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i will be the first to admit that that 'motown 25 performance' (for lack of a better term) is not my favourite; in fact, whenever i watch you live it's one of those performances i tend to skip (except for the one in bucharest from the dangerous tour- that is the ONLY performance of 'billie jean' i will watch in its entirety). however, i do observe the evolution of your performance of the song. the confidence you exude the more you perform it is remarkable. with that, even though 'billie jean' is one of those live performances i tend to skip, i am fascinated with watching you with the sound off. in that respect the work of a teacher occurs, as you merge vaudeville, the chitlin' circuit, the streets, the cinema, and more, into your imagination. the dilemma exists when you're always expected to 'moonwalk', as opposed to representing the fluidity/universal nature of our creativity.

one of the greatest lessons we got was on the 1988 rendition of the grammy awards, where you performed a medley, concluding with 'man in the mirror'. those who have not seen you live (at that point on your first solo tour) have not seen the full impact of your teachings. but we all got a taste of it, when the choir came out.

as with 'billie jean' (and many others) i got frustrated when you lip synced- "what's wrong with him??!! that man can SING!!!" i cried. and so it goes... you did lip sync 'man in the mirror'- until the vamp at the end. what happened there was not a performance- it was a spiritual revelation (out of many). it was a call to action. it was a lesson. i don't know how many people took you up on this call to action; but i can tell you that many recognized your message.

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watching 'billie jean' in silence i recognize that same energy; it's not 'magic' in a supernatural or fantastical way. it's a transformative energy. it's that connection with the ancestors which prevents stagnation.

i suspect looking at all of this is due to a culmination of experiences i had today. like, seeing a dragonfly up close for the first time ever- usually, they fly past you so quickly, right over your head... unfortunately, this dragonfly froze to the point of transition in the midst of travel. he was stuck on a piece of lettuce at my work. when i went outside to free him, he fell right to the ground.

rarely do you ever get to clearly see the wings of insects in flight... i got to recently see a film of a ladybug in flight, at half-speed. it was absolutely breathtaking. the strength in which the wings flapped appeared to belie the elegance and detail. having the opportunity to see a dragonfly's wings as he lay still fascinated me so. i had hoped that he would be able to wake up from the cold and proceed to search for his family, but that was not to be. and with that, i was able to marvel at his grace... with every transition is a birth.

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this is the first time in a long time i have had the desire to explore the world outside of what is going on in my own mind... yes, i always have a desire to learn from others and their experiences; but this is the first summer in years, living here in portland, that i can recall just allowing myself to live spontaneously. i have found it so easy to not do that here, either due to work or some other responsibility. and weariness.

and yes, doing things like a little bicycle ride (outside of obligation), just because, helps a whole lot. it really does assist in how the brain processes things, when the brain meets with oxygen.

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back inside from the ride, as i was writing this i decided to listen to some music. i decided to place on the turntable several songs which have been in my head the past number of days. in the midst of this one of your songs came up. of course.

this is another stage i am entering with you. one of many stages which have occurred spiritually, and subconsciously. i don't think this will be the final stage we encounter.

'i can't help it' was the song... it is, in fact, my favourite of yours. it is the greatest piece of modern popular music i have ever heard in my life. STEVIE WONDER contributing to its conception (along with susaye green) i'm sure is an aspect of this reasoning. i'm definitely sure of that. STEVIE being the creative father and you the son undoubtedly presents teachings which are timeless.

nevertheless, i put the 45 on; and suddenly this wave of energy flowed throughout my body in a way it hadn't with the other songs. it was a sort of electromagnetic energy occurring. it was pulling me up. it was as if a light i could not see was surrounding me.

it was the only song of yours i was listening to at that moment. this energy did not exist for me for the rest of the evening. to me, i was no longer listening to a song; it was true love i was listening to.

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when i was at work earlier i was thinking a whole lot about music consisting purely of energy (this was inspired by beyonce being played, as well as the suggestion that gaga be put on a playlist). there was some music being played; sort of like a european techno type of music. as this was going on i thought of music consisting of waves of (vibrational) energy, affecting our moods and sensibilities. i recalled listening to loud, angry, aggressive music when i was younger, because that was the mindset i was in.

i began to think about how a song could represent true love and true anger. and then this moment happened. when that energy built up inside of me i no longer heard notes, but i saw vibrations. i saw them. it's the same way i feel when i watch you perform 'billie jean', with no sound. the song is so limiting in light of the energy which is produced from your movements.

tonight, just like fifteen years ago, i had the opportunity to see, and not just hear, a piece of music. i feel so fortunate to have fallen in love again. to see the intricacies of the wings, and to fly.

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now that i think about it, it is not a 'falling' which occurs; in these transformative moments we are moving up with, and through, love.

love,
jamilah

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