When you are famous, a lot of people talk about you. When you die, more people, I guess, talk about you. Even your enemies have something to say. Well, I am neither an enemy nor a friend of the late MJ; although I was a fan before I became a big critic, like some of my friends are.
One becomes a fan because a star needs ample supply of Hydrogen to remain shining. In my case, I produced enough Carbon Dioxide (and perspiration) singing MJ’s earlier hits — “You and I must make a pact!” (sung in the highest male soprano ever heard). Likewise, I made enough H2O crying, just listening to that Free Willy Theme Song and, the hands-down-winner, “She’s Out of My Life”.
I don’t remember buying any of MJ’s albums but I listened to him often and did constantly try to fathom how he came up with such haunting and touching melodies. In much the same way that I am in awe of how the Beatles came up with their million-dollar-making hits. (Even MJ fell victim to the money-generating potential of the group’s songs that he found a way to own the rights. Much to Paul’s great consternation.) Magical is the word for it. Talent is cheap but heart and soul are rarer than warm nights in Baguio City.
How MJ lived and used his fortunes are entirely different things. Many of those passionate or sensitive artists do not have a complete comprehension of the great opportunities given to them to bless the world in ways that no ordinary person could ever hope to achieve. Perhaps, many of them build for themselves monument-traps in the hope that their fame and wealth can live on beyond them. We have pyramids and mummies, palaces, Boracay mansions and Neverlands to prove that point.
But blessing your family with your righteous life, like many Filipinos are doing, is no less admirable and lasting in value. Investing in our own spirit’s welfare and its eternal destiny (instead of your body’s desires and its temporal nature) is like planting a mango tree when you are 70 or 80 years old. You may not live to see its fruits but your children and their children will. Your living legacy will bless many people to come.
MJ may have missed his childhood but he had plenty of opportunities to make up for it. Until he died, he was hooked on Disney. Honestly, I admit to not being able to outgrow Disney’s Fantasia and Jungle Book because watching them brings back feelings and sensations of my youth (as opposed to trying to regain your youth physically or medically) and making you feel fresh again. (Watching them especially with our preschool students adds a higher level of joy and wonderment because of their ability to absorb new life with their innocence. Today, we watch Transformers and grow old and deaf because of the crashing noise.) Growing up can be tough for many of us; but it doesn’t mean when you are mature or very old that you can’t be young again.
Only recently did I realize that high school and college reunions have become our Neverland where we try to live our past in the present. There, we remain eternally young. Or naughty. Or in love. Or in anguish. Whichever way we still envision our youth, we carry with us to our fantasy meetings. I guess, that is why we also look at one another with eyes of youth. A friend has not changed her hair style. Your crush has remained beautiful. And I still have almost the same weight I had in high school. Some things don’t change and, oftentimes, so with our outlook. Or with our overall character which we actually acquired and developed early in childhood.
Of course, we can always take our passions to extremes. We can become slaves to things upon which others put no value whatsoever. Do we go to Neverland or Disneyland to feel young again, to be different from what we are or to expe-rience how others see the world? Perhaps, we have other reasons. Our genuine maturity, however, is measured by the real wealth we treasure in our hearts — love, joy, peace and all that jazz.
It is in coming out of youth that we finally realize we have remained young and that it is the world that has become old. Why should we let the world dictate that we are old and fading when the spirit in us has not grown old at all? It is in leaving Fantasy Land that we come to know that Paradise — where we’ll never grow old — is real and is waiting for us. Better to give up our fantasies — the things that are unreal — and to deal with reality.
In the end, youth is an everlasting reality that escapes us because we believe it is as transient as the flowers glorying in the sunshine. It is not a phase, a season, a feeling or a state of mind. Youth, in essence, is the human spirit’s ultimate discovery of the value of the present. It is the awareness that this very moment is tied to the past and the future within its own domain. Hence, there is no past or future, no other time but ETERNITY in the NOW.
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