If You Wanna Make the World a Better Place…

man in the mirror

In 1992, Michael Jackson embarked on his Dangerous world tour, which ended up being his second-to-last tour ever and attracted 3.5 million fans over the course of its two years. At the time, I wasn’t a huge MJ fan. I had loved him as a kid, but by the time I was seventeen I considered myself “too cool” to be into his music. Somehow, though, my best friend’s parents got free tickets to the show in Singapore (where we were living at the time) and she invited me to go with her. Our seats were CRAZY good — like, unbelievable. Second row, centre. Yeah, I know. Apparently MJ had a special deal in place that the first 10 rows or something like that were reserved for fans under the age of 18. Anyway, the show was AMAZING — the best I’ve ever seen. It completely blew me away. I had forgotten how many great songs were in his repertoire, but it was more than that. It was a completely flawless performance, and I say that with honestly no exaggeration. It was note-perfect down to the very last detail — Jackson’s singing, his dancing, the choreography, the lighting…everything. You could tell that he must have put an unbelievable amount of time into rehearsing, but it all came off looking smooth, effortless…perfect without being rote or robotic.

I came away from the show shaking my head in awe at the sheer amount of talent that the guy possessed, and I never forgot his performance. I feel lucky to have seen an artist of such stature at the peak of his career. As we now know, the years following that tour were not kind to Michael Jackson. Allegations of child molestation led to a highly-publicized trial that took on the feel of a circus freak show. MJ’s final years were marked by increasingly erratic behavior and a dependence on prescription drugs, surrounded by a coterie of sycophants and enablers. His death in 2009, at age 51, provoked an outpouring of grief in the media as people remembered the “good” side of him — innovative creative genius, magnificent performer, humanitarian.

Jackson’s lasting legacy is a top-notch body of work. But when you think about everything he accomplished its hard not to view it all within the context of the high price he paid for success. Any semblance of a normal childhood was sacrificed in the pursuit of perfection. Driven by an overbearing stage father, his grueling life as a child star paved the road for personal unhappiness in his adult life. On the other hand, watching him perform up-close, the absolute joy he felt being onstage doing something he loved was obvious…so there’s that.

I’m not really saying anything here that hasn’t been said before, but I’ve been thinking about MJ recently because I’ve been listening to this song a lot. I love this song. I think it’s his best — at least, it’s my favorite. I’ve been thinking a lot about change, too. So often in life, change is thrust upon us. After all, the only thing that ever stays the same is the fact nothing ever stays the same, right? Oh, the irony. But sometimes the type of change that is necessary has to come from within, and that’s the most difficult. Have you ever looked at your life and realized that something needs to be different, but you’re not sure exactly what, and you don’t know how to make it happen? What do you do?

I wish I had the answers. I think MJ was on the right track here though. I guess, in the end, if you want to make a change there is only one place to look: in the mirror. If you like what you see, you’re lucky. If not…well, at least you know where to start.

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3 responses to “If You Wanna Make the World a Better Place…

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