July 1 – September 5, 2014
Hey! [Jan gets a visual impression of the beginning of Michael’s short film for The Way You Make Me Feel – when everyone just freezes in their tracks.] Have you forgotten me?
Forgotten you? Michael, you know better than that! How could I forget my heart?
Well, I want to talk to you about all your experiences in the past month. Can we do that? You are wallowing.
No, I’m not. I’m trying to come to grips with all the new experiences I’ve had.
Yeah! That’s what I said … wallowing! You’re ‘trying to come to grips’ with it all … by yourself. You know you can sort things out better if we discuss it all together. But you’ve been trying to work it all out … and feeling more and more frustrated with it all … instead of sitting down and talking about it with me.
Well, I’m kind of ashamed of myself. I’ve had a few rather personal revelations that I’m not terribly proud of and I wanted to examine them and see how I can correct them.
Yes, I know. I have felt your confusion and tried to reach out to hold you closer in my love, but your negative feelings … your judgment of yourself … your guilt … your fear … have been keeping you from feeling my presence. But let’s talk about all that a bit later, if that’s okay. First, I want to hear about your trip.
Oh my gosh … my trip! Where do I begin?
[Michael laughs.] How about we try starting at the beginning and see how it goes?
Okay … the beginning! The flight to Las Vegas was uneventful. I closed my eyes and envisioned flying MJAir, as I always do. It was a ‘no frills’ airline … efficiently got me there in three hours and seventeen minutes and after collecting my suitcase, I managed to catch a shuttle to my hotel, The Luxor Hotel and Casino on the strip. And that’s where my trip really begins.
I was totally unprepared for the sheer size and magnitude of this place and stood around like a deer impaled by the headlights of an approaching car, trying to figure out how to check in.
Talk about a “Vegas Virgin!”
“Vegas Virgin” … I like that! [Michael giggles.]
Yeah … well … it was kind of an uncomfortable experience, but I’m glad you find it amusing. At the time, I was confused and it showed. There I stood at around midnight … gaping at this incredibly huge place shaped like a pyramid … the likes of which I had never seen before. I finally managed to figure out that the snaking line outlined by rope barriers was the check in line and got myself (and my three hundred pound suitcase) into it. When I got to the desk, the woman asked me if I wanted to upgrade my room from the pyramid to a newer and bigger room in the East Tower. I agreed … big mistake … because the East Tower was a mile and a half away. That might be a slight exaggeration, but not by much! At least, it felt like it was a mile and a half away. It was a nice room and had a wonderful deep soaker bathtub, but it was so far from the pyramid (where all my friends were staying) that I immediately called back down to the desk and asked to be moved back to the pyramid. By the time I, finally, managed to get to a room and check in with my two friends who had arrived before me, it was after 1:00 AM (which was really 3:00 AM my time.) All I could do was fall into bed!
The next morning, I began to explore this city I had checked into the night before. There were giant (two stories tall or more) colossi of Ramses the Great in the lobby! Theaters, restaurants, casino, and shops were all contained within this place and the ancient Egyptian motif ran throughout! It was like being in ancient Egypt … a place I’ve always been fascinated with! Of course, I took pictures of everything, including the framed decorations on the walls in the hallways, with my new MJGalaxy, Jr. (Samsung Galaxy S4 to the uninitiated.)
Meeting new members of my Michael Jackson Family, with whom I had been in contact through my social networks … and renewing friendships with those met on previous excursions … is always a thrill and I was blessed to hook up with a couple of them over breakfast in the Pyramid Café, where I discovered (to my delight) that croissants are, indeed, delicious everywhere and Mimosas (a mixture of Champaign and orange juice complete with cherry) are the only way to start the day!
Exploring Las Vegas included visiting The Venetian and the Regis Gallerie, where you used to shop!
I love that place! Isn’t it beautiful? I just love to see the craftsmanship … the art … the beauty … that mankind is capable of producing. It’s beautiful when someone puts his heart and soul into his creations. I wish we could figure out how to return to producing beautiful craftsmanship that we put our heart and soul into … instead of ugly knock offs and life-destroying wars.
Yes, it is absolutely beautiful! And you gave us such a powerful living example of that. I can see why you loved it! They had video screens set up showing your visit to their shop that was shown in Living with Michael Jackson and framed pictures of you throughout the shop with captions like, “Our friend, Michael. You will be missed.”
The Venetian is a beautiful hotel and just as big … or bigger … than the Luxor. The frescoes on the ceilings and walls … the canals with gondolas poled by singing gondoliers … the restaurants and theaters. Each hotel is a self-contained city.
I had never considered myself a particularly provincial type of person, having been raised and living for a majority of my younger years near Chicago, but Las Vegas is in a whole different category of extravagance and opulence. I was stunned by its magnificence … and my feet were stunned by the distances … within and between … the hotels. I dealt with swollen feet from day one.
We also visited The Mirage where you stayed often in the Private Villas. There is a door that leads to those private little getaways and as we stood near that door, knowing that you had often passed through it to return to your private villa, the door rattled and the silver phone that grants access to the villas beyond rang a couple of times. It kinda shocked us until one of my friends picked up the phone. No one was there!
Hee hee hee! I told you to be alert!
Yes, you did, Baby! During the day, we explored Las Vegas, but during the evening we attended Michael Jackson ONE at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino! I managed to score an extra ticket to the show on the 17th and already held one for the 18th and 28th, so I got to see it three times instead of two … and I am so glad! It only got better and better each time I saw it.
For the first viewing, there is so much going on above the seats, in the aisles and on the video screens that there is a feeling of overwhelm … sensory overload, if you will. I experienced this same feeling with the Cirque Immortal show that I saw in Los Angeles in January, 2012. I wanted to catch everything. I was seated about six rows back from the stage and had to crane my neck to see the aerialists and some of the aisle activity, but was very close to the stage and able to watch the dancers and hologram very well.
Of course, the music was amazing. It is Michael Jackson, after all! The Cirque producers honored your vocals and presented your messages in quotes projected onto the video screens. Occasional clips of your performances were also shown along with still photographs both on the stage and at the sides of the stage.
For the show on the 18th, I was even closer to the stage and still required to turn around and crane my neck for the aerialists flying above my head. The third show (on the 28th), in my opinion, was the best. I was seated in the second row of the first tier of seats in the balcony, almost in the center of the specially-built auditorium. I was able to view and hear everything going on around me very well and in much greater comfort. In addition, I was able to focus more on the story being told by the music and the plot.
The Michael Jackson ONE show has a wonderful, uplifting message when one can overcome that feeling of sensory overload. Of course, as with any art, the message one walks out with is very subjective; each viewer walks away with something different according to his or her focus and it covers the entire spectrum from just being entertained for an hour and a half (although that’s nothing to sneeze at) … to taking something permanent and life-enhancing with you when you walk out the door.
Yes, you say ‘just being entertained’ … being disengaged from all your problems and worries for a while … disconnecting from your angers or resentments … separating yourself from your story, your history … is very important. It’s escapism. It gives you distance from all those things so that you can have a few minutes to realize that you are not them … and, more importantly, they are not you. It’s what I aimed for in all of my performances and films.
To gain some distance from all those things that go around and around in your head … all the repetitive chatter that fills your mind most of the time … helps you to see things more clearly and to evaluate your situation from a fresh perspective.
Did you know that 90% of the thoughts you think every day are the same thoughts you thought yesterday … and the day before … and the day before that? And, like we’ve talked about so often before, when you are faced with challenges, your mind often repeats conversations over and over again defending your position or anticipating your victory in an argument. Breaking that pattern before it spirals, dragging you down into dark and negative emotions is the key to restoring your peace of mind.
In our society, most people come home from work and plop themselves down in front of the television to watch the 24-hour news cycle or sitcoms or reality shows and they think that they are releasing the tension from their workday, but they’re not. Most of the time, they are just going over and over that discussion with their co-worker that made them angry, thinking about what they should have said or how they should have responded to a criticism from their boss or the endless tasks that they’ve been required to perform to make a living … and becoming angrier and more resentful of their situation while the television provides background noise. You’ve experienced this. I’ve experienced this. Everyone experiences this. It’s no wonder anxiety and depression are epidemic; we don’t know how to break through that conditioned thinking.
Breaking out of the normal routine by attending a concert or performance helps by detaching all those stressful emotions and thoughts for a few minutes. It’s very important to escape the things that bother you and enjoy something fresh and new. If it’s also mind-blowing … MAGIC … it’s even better.
Well, this show certain fills that bill admirably. While it doesn’t contain quite the same impact it would with you on that stage … up close and personal … it does provide more than ample opportunity to escape into your music, but it also has a deeper, less apparent message, at least for me.
The four main characters (who, in my opinion, represent all of us) are taken on a journey through a mindscape of self-discovery on that stage through the emblems that you made so famous: your fedora, your glove, your sunglasses and your loafers and sparkly socks. These symbols of your fame represent your ongoing influence and inspiration – the energy that John Barnes, your co-producer and arranger during the BAD recording sessions referred to in Spike Lee’s BAD 25 Documentary as “just not going away.” Each of the young people is just going through the motions of life until he/she becomes attracted to one of the symbols.
Suddenly, with that attraction, each becomes curious; a couple of them try to deny or reject the symbol, but the symbol is persistent (remind you of a ‘pushy little moonwalker?’) until he/she finally accepts the gift the symbol represents and awakens the dormant, latent talent hiding within … becoming more than they had thought they were. In Man in the Mirror, a hologram very much like the one we all witnessed on the Billboard Music Award show in May, dances and interacts with each of the characters, bestowing his approval and blessings on each of them by appearing and disappearing in gold pixie dust which weaves around the characters in his wake.
Needless to say, I was entirely mesmerized by this viewing and dumbfounded by the fact that Jamie King and the Cirque team so unerringly manifested what has been happening in the five years since your Ascension and which I have been writing about, since my illness in November, in The Greatest Story Never Told. (Author’s note: See previous posting on this site.)
Hee hee hee! I love it when a plan comes together!
Were you instrumental in arranging that, my Dear One?
I wouldn’t say that. Of course, I always try to guide and inspire any project associated with my name, but it is up to each individual producer or performer to receive and interpret, just as it’s up to you to receive and interpret these Conversations … and it’s up to each person who sees the show … or reads these Conversations … to receive and interpret his or her level of engagement. We are all in this thing together.
Well, I definitely felt your hand and direction in the show. That “tender touch I know so well” was very much in evidence in the performances, the music, the staging and conceptualizing.
In addition, the repetition of this theme in the books I’ve been reading, the story I’ve been writing, the shows I’ve been seeing underscores, for me, the importance of its message to all of us. It is such a clear indication for me of your continuing presence and influence that, at times, I find it almost uncanny.
Of course, Los Angeles was beautiful, as it always is. So many of your children gather to celebrate you in June and in August and special anniversary events were scheduled around June 25th for almost every day we were there, including a Lanterns of Love celebration at the Santa Monica Pier, where paper lanterns with small LED tea lights were lit at dusk on the beach, each donated by one of your children on June 26 and a beautiful sunrise meditation at Venice Beach on June 25 organized by Michael’s Circle of Love. The One Rose for Michael group provided a beautiful floral display at Holly Terrace with even more roses than last year and gifts from around the world blanketed the lawn and courtyard on the anniversary of your Ascension. We went ‘mural hunting’ on this trip (something I we had never done before) and found two of the large murals of you in the Los Angeles area. My friends and I celebrated Michael Church beneath the Ascension window at Forest Lawn, remembering you and feeling your spirit watching over us.
Our visit to the gates of Neverland was beautiful and serene. The atmosphere of that place is just so full of love and joy … the ONENESS that we all share can be felt in every moment we spend there. We visited Los Olivos for a wonderful lunch and Solvang for dinner and shopping at a favorite little shop called The Pebble People, where I bought a lovely golden Faberge-type egg decorated with red crowns and with a crown inside that revolves to the music of Swan Lake by Tchaichovsky (one of your favorite composers) and a ‘Claddagh vow ring’ to commemorate the trip.
Our drive back to Las Vegas after our stay in Los Angeles was an interesting experience. We were doing quite well for the first part of the trip until just before dark, when the one expressway linking Los Angeles to Las Vegas became a parking lot, literally. We anticipated that the congestion would clear up. Little did we know! For about 60 miles our progress was measured by inches rather than miles and the normally three and a half hour drive turned into eight hours of snaking red taillights! But we made it to the hotel at around 12:30 AM (the next day) … tired and a little cranky … but alive and well.
I discovered the advantage of a GPS during this trip as my new MJGalaxy, Jr. was equipped with an application that gave us turn-by-turn directions to just about everywhere we wanted to go, including the home you and your beautiful children stayed in on Palomino in Las Vegas … and I can definitely see why your security staff would not allow you to use the front door. It is far too exposed!
All in all, the trip was a MAJOR blessing in my life not only in all the wonderful people I hooked up with again, or for the first time, and the fabulous places I visited or revisited, but also for the lessons it taught me upon my return. Where my first trip in January, 2012 was a MAGIC journey in which you bowled me over with your presence … and my second trip in June 2013 was a “hand-her-the-keys-to-the-house-and-the-car, mi-casa-es-su-casa vacation in comfort and security… this trip was a humbling lesson at the feet of my Zen master, Michael Jackson. I am reminded of the story of the Zen master who walks behind his pupils with a stick in his hand to smack any who sink into idle daydreaming between the shoulder blades. The students are grateful for the master’s reminder to become alert and present in the moment. I’m afraid I am a little disappointed in my grasp of the concept of humility.
Well, I’m not! [Michael raises his voice!]
Huh? You’re not what?
I am not disappointed in you! Never have been and never will be. You are my beloved … all of you … each and every one. I see in you only beauty. Never, ever think that I am disappointed in you … ever. I love you MORE than that.
Is the master in your analogy disappointed that he must smack his beloved pupil whose attention and in-the-present-moment alertness have wavered? Does the tutor not feel the smack more than the student?
The challenges you face are gifts placed in your path to recognize. Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to see the gift buried in the challenge.
We’ve talked about this before when we discussed your illness in November as a curse but later saw that same illness as a blessing which is only coming to fruition now. [Reference: Installment 82, November 21, 2013]
In your self-examination since your return to what you consider ‘normal life,’ you have recognized the gift hidden among the challenges you faced. There is no shame in that … only blessing. You removed yourself from the routine and gained perspective … that distance we talked about earlier … which allowed you to became more open to a sharper focus and a clearer, less cluttered view. You have nothing to be ashamed about or to be disappointed about. So stop it!
You have allowed yourself to become distracted by feelings of failure, unworthiness and inadequacy … AGAIN! [Michael sighs.] And you have wallowed long enough. We have work to do. And I want you to remember something the next time you are faced with what you consider to be your ‘failure.’ And that is: failure is not an option because, quite simply, there is no such thing! There is only blessing because LOVE is the only reality. And LOVE does not judge success … or failure. It is not girded about with conditions or dualities. It has only one imperative: the privilege of giving itself to the beloved.
God! How I love you, Mon Ange!
And I love you MORE!