December 3, 2014
Can you believe we’re on Installment #90 already?
Yep, I believe it! Do you?
Not really. It seems like we just began these wonderful dialogs. So much has happened in the interim; so many lives have been blessed; so many hearts touched; so many of your children have begun their own Conversations with you in whatever format they feel most comfortable in the ensuing four years since we published the first one here at With a Child’s Heart in November 2010. It feels like it has been a lot longer than just four years.
It has been a lot longer than four years; it’s been more like twenty (at least, that you’ve been aware of.) But time is really irrelevant, as we’ve said before. You and I have been together forever … and forever extends not only forward into the unforeseeable future (in the linear progression that physical manifestation imposes on your experience of time) … but also backward into the past long before either of us appeared on this earth. We are a FAMILY.
You’ve been allowing me to speak to you through the music for a very long time. When you were angry, you’ve let me share your anger, express it, appease it. When you were anxious or nervous, you’ve let my voice calm your anxiety. When you’ve felt alone or unloved, my voice has told you that you are not alone and that you are loved beyond your wildest imaginings, even when you didn’t realize that was happening. You even printed one of our earliest conversations in an earlier installment.
Yes, that’s true. I feel the truth of that statement very strongly. As a matter of fact, my activities of the past month have brought the truth of your statement into much clearer focus; and have even brought the realization of that truth home to me in a very concrete way this past week.
Do you want to tell me about it?
Of course, I want to tell you about it. Well, let’s see … how do I begin this tale.
The beginning is always a good place to start. [Michael laughs.]
That would take a while. This story begins thirty-five years ago when my husband and I moved to the dark side of the moon and this great big old white elephant of a farmhouse that we bought.
That’s okay. Do you have something else to do or somewhere else to be? I feel up for a good story.
[Jan gets a visual of Michael lying supine on a couch in his Library. His ankles are crossed and his hands are joined behind and supporting his head. He is dressed in comfortable pajama pants and a corduroy shirt with the sleeves unbuttoned.]
Well, I don’t know how good a story this is, but we can give it a shot and see where we end up. Immediately upon moving into this house, my husband claimed a room on the second floor on the north side of the house as “his library.” By way of explanation, between us, we could probably give you a good run for your money in the “10,000 books” sweepstakes and we needed a place to house our collection of books. Both of us have always been avid readers and over the years have collected enough books on every kind of topic to open a lending library. From Oriental Philosophies to New Age to Celtic History to Ancient Egyptian and Greek Mythology, from Ichthyology to Organic Chemistry to Calculus to Fermat’s Last Theorem, From Romance Novels to Theosophical Treatises and Science Fiction and everything in between … you name it … we’ve got at least one book on the subject somewhere in this house. He has collected every National Geographic magazine from 1902 through the present … Honestly! And a lot (but nowhere near all) of it has ended up in “his library” … and NOT on the shelves built for that purpose! All over the floor! Sheet music from his choir and music director phase … old empty television and stereo boxes waist deep. Seriously, the room would have been condemned by the health department!
Anyway, I had respected his claim for thirty-five years and the room that he confiscated has been considered “off limits” for me for the entire time even though many of the books I had collected before I met him were housed in the same room. However, in the spirit of breaking through the barriers of all kinds of limitations … other and self-imposed … I have experienced in the last couple of years, this particular limitation was beginning to chafe.
During the thirty-five years we have lived in this house, the room had suffered great neglect and abuse and had become a place to store things … and not neatly … a dumping ground. Just open the door, toss stuff in and close the door again. My respect for his claim and the fact that he had declared the space “off limits” to me had prohibited me from cleaning it or restoring any kind of utility to the room.
Recently, with my new interest in artistic expression, I’ve felt the need for an art studio … a place with good lighting and enough space to set up my easel, ready to receive any inspiration that might float my way. A place that I didn’t have to clean everything up when I finished for the day. A place where I could let a drawing or a painting breathe overnight … bathe in the moonlight as you said during the rehearsals for This Is It … and come back to it the next day refreshed and able to see what needed adjusting or what colors needed tweaking. A place where I could store all my art supplies neatly in one place, ready to grab at a moment’s notice when I felt the spirit move me … instead of having to go into my cabinet to get my pencils and somewhere else for my erasers and set up my portable table and get my easel out of the closet and find my pastels or paints or whatever I felt was needed to complete a piece. (Honestly, it was getting to the point that it took me half an hour or forty-five minutes just to get everything set up and ready to draw!) A place where I could experiment with new techniques to my little heart’s content, see what works for me … and what doesn’t … as well as a place where inspiration, creativity and artistic expression could flow in a steady stream … or, at least, more freely … than is possible in my cramped little poorly-lit bedroom.
A couple of weeks ago during one of our fairly infrequent disagreements, I informed my husband that I had respected his wishes for thirty-five years … but that was over … and I was going to clean “his library” and use it as my art studio. I had threatened many times before, so I guess he can be forgiven for thinking that this was just another threat. But this time, it was no threat; I need that space to grow into, to develop my artistic leanings, so to speak. I mean, he was already mad at me over the disagreement. How much worse could it get? And I just could not tolerate having a totally unused twelve-square-foot-plus space in this house while at the same time not being able to find six inches to allow myself the luxury of experimentation and discovery of where this art thing could take me any longer.
The next day, he went to work and I set to work. It took me two full eight-hour days just to FIND the floor! Getting all the books back on shelves, the National Geographics on their shelves, and removing the trash that had accumulated during our occupancy of this house peppered with the evidence of feline occupation which had all, somehow, ended up in this room took another full day; but at the end of those three days, I had a room that was fit for human habitation (I was even able to VACUUM the area rug we had put down over thirty-five years ago which I hadn’t seen in all that time!) I hurt myself in the process of moving eight huge bags and one giant box of papers, trash and magazines out of the room, down the stairs, out the door and out to the garage … but it was worth it.
I had begun the task with an attitude of anger and resentment, but as I worked, I found the job … uh … cleansing … cathartic. It became a symbol for purging all the negative self-talk and criticism, the years of domination and limitation and restriction … and I found that I was thankful to be able to set myself a goal … to spend my days on “purpose”… and excited to begin to let the artistic juices flow.
However, the room still didn’t feel right. It needed more. After all those years of neglect, it needed occupation … joyful and anticipatory occupation. It needed better lighting during the evening hours because the three big windows and the northern exposure was perfect during the day (even on the cloudiest or snowiest days) but it gets dark on the dark side of the moon at like 5:00 PM. The lamps were thirty-five years old and hadn’t been used in all that time and I wasn’t going to start a fire in my new art studio due to faulty wiring. It needed a little meditation altar with candles and incense and maybe a little fountain. It needed to be loved back to a state of health and happiness and for love and joy to be made welcome within. But, most of all, it needed Michael Joseph Jackson!
[Michael giggles.] Now, you know by now that wherever you are … I am.
Yes, I know, but I needed to bring you into the space in a tangible way. So, the first thing I did to reclaim the space once it was cleaned out was to burn white sage in the room. This practice (called “smudging”) is reputed to purify the atmosphere and remove any residual negative emotions that might be hanging around (probably due to the release of negative ions … like incense in church, for example) … plus darn stuff smells good. Then, I determined that I would invest whatever time was necessary to banish the atmosphere of neglect and disuse by inviting you into it. I brought in the Bluetooth speaker and MJ3 player and portable CD player and played your music non-stop for days; I brought in MJGalaxy and my laptop and watched your short films in the evenings; I brought in my Queen Anne winged library chair and footstool (which was being used as a scratching post by the cats downstairs), journaled with you in here while watching the squirrels playing from branch to branch in the trees outside the windows, meditated in here with my Neverland CD and read aloud to you from A Course in Miracles. I also found my copy of Jonathan Livingston Seagull (which I had read back in the 1970s, but had lost track of) and read that aloud to you as well. Can we discuss this a little later?
Of course, we can. I love that book!
Yes, you put into practice the same method we have used successfully in the past to eliminate any conflicting emotions. You cleaned up the space like we did with the courtroom in Los Angeles for Conrad Murray’s trial, swept up all the negative and offensive emotional and physical baggage and escorted it out the door. Then, you sat back and invited love to enter and occupy the space. Dang! You were listening, weren’t you?
Of course, I was listening to you, Michael! How could I not be listening to you? You are my favorite pushy little moonwalker!
[Michael laughs.] Hey! I resemble that remark.
But, I still don’t see how the truth of our ongoing Conversation was brought home to you in such a concrete way, as you stated earlier.
Well, at the same time that I was involved in cleaning out my new art studio, this giant ball of gratitude developed … first of all, I was grateful that I hadn’t killed myself falling down the stairs while moving all that stuff out of here. I was reminded of your advice to awaken in the morning in an “attitude of gratitude” for a good night’s sleep as well as for all my blessings that we discussed in earlier Conversations (Installment #52) and I began each day thankful for the day and excited to discover what miracles it held for me. While I was working a full-time job, this concept was a little harder for me to grasp unless I was on pilgrimage in Los Angeles, but I am finding gratitude to be much easier for me in retirement when the pace and trajectory of my days are determined by my own interests and aptitudes.
So, while I was engaged in cleaning up my sanctuary annex, I would awaken in the morning and before ever rising from my bed, I said a brief prayer of gratitude. Then I came into my new art studio and I spent at least two weeks just enjoying [in-joy-ing] the additional space by journaling with you, listening to your voice, watching the squirrels and woodpeckers in the trees and bringing joy, love, peace and light into it.
On one of those days, I was just happily going along, writing in my journal, when I discovered that the thoughts I was writing were being mirrored by the songs you were singing. I love when that happens! However, I was so rapt in my journaling that I didn’t notice what was happening right away. My MJ3 player was set to random play (or shuffle) among my “All Michael … All The Time” playlist of about 386 songs, but you were speaking to me as I was writing. For example, I was bemoaning the fact that this room (which I have named The Annex … as in Sanctuary Annex) had been allowed to fall into such a sad state of neglect and abuse … and Earth Song played, reminding me that we had allowed our planet fall into a sad state of neglect and abuse and exploitation as well. That song so closely reflected my mood and what I had written, but I was still just blithely unaware of what was going on. A little later, I mentioned that the wind was blowing and the temperature was like 15 degrees, but I was dressed warmly and the space heater was on and I had a cup of coffee … and I Like The Way came on … once again, reflecting my emotions of satisfaction and joy with achieving my goal. Then, I wrote that I should probably try to draw something or write something, but that thirty-five years of neglect couldn’t be banished in a single day and we were loving the room back to health and happiness … and Happy came on.
At this point, the light was beginning to dawn on me that we were having a Conversation … an informal, impromptu one … but a Conversation nevertheless and I started paying a little more attention.
You are so funny! You acted so surprised … like this had never happened to you before.
I know … I don’t know what I was thinking … I heard you laughing at me … and you said: “Don’t act so surprised! We’ve been doing this for a while.” We talked for a little while longer and then I decided if I was going to entertain the most beautiful creature God ever created … spiritual or physical … I needed a bath and to make myself a little more presentable. I excused myself to accomplish this task. When I returned, you made me laugh out loud!
Me? What’d I do?
Well, the first words that played when I returned to The Annex and turned on the MJ3 player were: “Look at that girl over there! She fine, man. She know she fine. She is bangin.” I’m sorry, I just fell out! Then, after You Rock My World, Lady in My Life played. God bless you!
No, God bless you for noticing … even if it did take you a while. A lot of people wouldn’t notice and if they did notice one song they would chalk it up to ‘coincidence.’ You, on the other hand, notice (eventually … ahem) and realize that we are communicating. You’re kinda like your psychotic DVD player … so responsive … uh … sometimes.
Are you calling me psychotic? Consider your arm punched!
Ow! Consider yourself chased around the room and tackled. Hey! You know what? We could dance in here. There’s more than enough room! Woohooo!
Yeah, we could … but, unfortunately, no T.V.
We don’t need no stinkin’ T.V. We got this! Now, come and dance with me!
Um, Baby, I would love that … but could we talk about Jonathan Livingston Seagull first?
Oh, yeah [Michael giggles] I forgot! What about it?
Well, I’ve read for years that Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach was one of your favorite books and I would always think, “Yeah, that is a great book.” I had read it back in the 1970s and I knew that I had the book somewhere, but I didn’t remember where. Of course, it would make perfect sense that it was in “his library,” … my new meditation space and art studio … The Annex. So, when I finished cleaning it and “smudging” it and lighting it and loving it and being grateful for it, I began to look on the shelves at the treasures that had been locked away behind closed doors and my husband’s cryptic proclamation for thirty-five years.
Those who have read these Conversations from their beginning know that I have had a lifelong, nearly physical fascination with books … somewhat similar to yours, my love. As stated in The Journey: A Retrospective, music and books have been the two unifying threads through all the periods, phases and times of my life and that thought is well represented on the shelves of this room. I found my copy of the Bhavagad Gita and Upanishads, The Tibetan Book of the Dead and The Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation, The Tantric Tradition, Siddhartha, This Is It by Alan Watts, Sadhana: The Realization of Life by Rabindranath Tagore, all of my Joseph Campbell’s, all of my Carlos Castenada books … just a treasure trove of the history of my search for meaning (which, by the way, has found its completion, at long last, in you, my Anam Cara … and I am so grateful. God bless your beautiful soul forever!)
Awww … God bless you. You gotta know I love you MORE!
Seeing all these titles that had been locked up in the dungeon of forgetfulness for so long brought the memory of who I was back then … B.C. … Before Children … and family structure … and career became the overriding focus of my days. And the room, itself, took on a new and even deeper significance. It was a TIME CAPSULE … buried in the 1970s to be dug up and appreciated later … preseved intact to be savored in the autumn of my life when time and space are in plentiful supply and I found myself feeling grateful for the pristine (almost) preservation of my twenty-something self in my sixty-something newly-restored Annex.
It was also my CLOISTER. I had always had a particular fascination with the contemplative life, even to the extent of wanting to join a religious order as a teenager and spend my days in worship … in silence … in solitude … as represented by the nuns by whom I was taught in elementary and high school. I have always been something of a loner; solitude and silence have never frightened me. I view them both as my friends and I cherish them. And I discovered that the contemplative life that I so longed for as a teenager is the life I am blessed to live … now … finally. I don’t need a convent or a habit. Sweats and a t-shirt are fine (although that white habit with the black veil and wimple are so glamorous … LOL!)
Somehow, I can’t see you as a nun. [Michael laughs.] Do you mind very much?
No, I don’t mind at all for you are the object of all my worship, by God’s gracious mercy.
I found a LOT of old friends and companions on those shelves, my Dear One, including Jonathan. And I so understand why Jonathan Livinston Seagull is your favorite book. You ARE Jonathan. Upon finding the book, I determined that I would read it aloud to you. It’s not long; it only took a couple of hours to read. But, oh my gosh, what a revelation. The book is written about YOU!
All I can say is … I had forgotten in the years since first reading this book how truly beautiful it is and I was impressed anew at the perfect way you lived Jonathan … and continue to live Jonathan. Jonathan’s quest for the Holy Grail of perfection and knowledge … his insatiable almost predatory curiosity … his passion for flight … his uncontrollable drive to develop beyond the barriers and restrictions imposed by his society and his own physical endurance … his ostracism from The Flock for his “crazy” idea to expend all his effort on growth and development beyond the acquisition of his next meal … his desire to impart all he had learned to improve the life of all … found their perfect expression in your physical life with us on Planet Earth.
However, beyond that, even after his departure from the physical side of his life, Jonathan continued to grow and perfect his talent … to develop the art of life … and his desire to impart all he had learned in his quest for perfection grew with him until he returned to teach those remaining behind … and restricted to the limited view of survival … that there is so much more for which to strive and far greater reward than what the physical world offers … namely, the food and drink of spiritual alchemy … the transformation of the base, dense physical matter into the highly-refined and purified gold of spiritual transcendence … and the mystery of the soul.
Michael … you ARE Jonathan! Your life and Mr. Bach’s book are such beautiful examples of the art of living soulfully with unlimited passion, humor, zest and grace. And your flight is beautiful beyond bearing in my eyes.
Awww … don’t get me all emotional now! God bless you! Now, come dance with me.
Girl, close your eyes
Let that rhythm get into you
Don’t try to hide it
There ain’t nothing that you can do
Relax your mind
Lay back and groove with mine.