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Installment 109

June 26 through July 18, 2017

You’re wallowing, again!

Fought in a battle
Nobody won
Left ourselves a mountain
To be overcome
You can’t run away
The past is said and done
I need us to carry on

What part of the last two lines in those lyrics don’t you understand?

You’ve buried yourself in a past that can’t be undone no matter how hard you try for the last two weeks. You’ve looked at it from every possible angle and still can’t figure out what happened, how it happened, why it happened. All you know is that it DID happen and that, in your opinion, it shouldn’t have. As a result, you resist it, which causes stress and anxiety.

We have talked a lot about focus in these discussions, so you understand the principle at work. When you focus on the sadness, the heart break, the unanswered questions you put not only your attention on those things, but also all of your energy. When your focus continues for an extended period of time it becomes concentrated there. When you finally do look up, all you see is more reasons to be sad and confused and unfocused because that is what you have asked the universe to show you with your prolonged focus.

It would be much better to experience the sadness; don’t deny it or suppress it; acknowledge it but, then, turn to all the reasons you have to rejoice and be grateful.

I can’t help myself, Beloved. We all miss you here with us so much. June is hard on your children.

I do understand that, but I am here with you. I’ve told you that at least a thousand times just in these dialogs, alone. I will tell you that as often as I think you need to hear it. And that’s not even counting all the other ways we communicate. I have never gone anywhere. What’s more all of you know that I am here with you. In a thousand little ways, you know that I am here.

I am always whispering my love into your heart … always. When you walk into an antique shop and are browsing through the items for sale and you hear my voice on the radio playing in the shop, you stop and say, “Hi, baby …” And I AM THERE and WE ARE ONE in that moment of recognition because we are joined in love.

In that magical moment, there is no such thing as time or space … or death … because we occupy the dimension called love. There are no boundaries in that space … no time limits … no spatial distance … no restrictions. In that place, we are together and we are forever.

You and I were never separate
It’s just an illusion
Wrought by the magical
Lens of Perception 

Try to stay in that moment instead of buying into the illusion of the perception that the physical world wishes to impose on your freedom to choose. I know it’s difficult because our perceptions have been conditioned by the way we have been taught to perceive from infancy. The good news is: we can choose to perceive and experience our reality differently. But it takes monitoring our thoughts. That’s why I am here to remind you when you get caught up in the illusion.

When you look at the clock and the display reads 11:11, what does that mean to you?

I call it a “MAGICAL, MYSTICAL MICHAEL” moment (MMM for short) and I celebrate those days when I notice it twice.

Right! And in that moment, your love calls me to you … because it calls me to your mind and the love dimension where we are one.

When you go to sleep at night, how do you prepare for the night?

I turn on my MJ3 player on my headboard and listen to your voice for about half or three-quarters of an hour. I call it “snuggle time.”

[Michael laughs.]

If it has been a busy day and I haven’t gotten a chance to listen to your voice throughout whatever activity I have been immersed in, I particularly look forward to our “snuggle time.” It has become an extremely cherished part of my day.

Often, I receive assurance that you are here through the songs that play during that half hour.  My MJ3 player is permanently set to shuffle among the songs on my “favorites” playlist which contains almost one hundred songs. There are times that I feel you so strongly in the music that comes up on that playlist. Last night was one of those times.

Will you tell me about it?

Sure! Well, last night I was in mourning mode and felt that I just had to watch you for a little while. So, I popped in a DVD that I call “Totally AWESOME Performances” which contains random performances from your entire career. I watched three or four, including Elizabeth, I Love You, which I was blessed to see in person, and ending with Earth Song from the Royal Brunei concert.

Then, I decided to go to bed and turned on the MJ3 player. As I settled into my pillows and got comfortable, I heard:

Gotta find a way somehow
Nothing’s gonna stop me now
Gotta find a way somehow
Even though you’re gone
Even though you’re gone

I thought that was a perfect song to hear in the circumstances because it so closely matched my mood. Then, the set list started in earnest and went something like this:

This Is It
In Our Small Way
Speechless
She Was Loving Me
Fall Again
Love Never Felt So Good
Someone in the Dark

I always call the demo for Chicago She Was Loving Me because that was your name for it; I call the remix version “the duck version.” I wish they hadn’t changed the entire feeling and character of that song when they “contemporized” (which is just another way of saying “remixed”} it.

When She Was Loving Me begins, the bass is a wave of energy that just gives me a total body rush … it’s so deep and sensual … and when your voice begins, I just melt. Last night, uncharacteristically, that happened when all of these songs started. I felt you so close. I felt you were trying to tell me something.

And did you get any kind of message from the songs that played?

Well, when I look at it in retrospect, I think the overall message is: Enough with the grief, already! Let’s get busy!

[Michael laughs.] Well, I wouldn’t put it in exactly those terms, but it’s to the point and succinct.

Actually, when looking at just the titles and not even considering the emotion or lyrics of the songs listed, the message is pretty clear:

This Is It! This is the way it is. Resistance is ineffective. This is the hand we were dealt; let’s PLAY with it. We need to do what we can In Our Small Way. Love is magical and its effects leave us Speechless. You know that; you have experienced it.

She Was Loving Me always gives me gooseflesh. It gets my fullest possible attention the moment it starts. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing, when that song starts … I stop. Sometimes, I put whatever I’m doing aside and dance to it and I always imagine that I’m dancing a slow dance with you, my heart.  It’s not so much the lyrics of the song; it’s the feel of it … the emotion that bass evokes in me. There’s an intimacy to it that I just can’t put into words. It’s a wave of undiluted, inescapable love to me – like being dipped in hot, molten love.

Fall Again is a plea to renew and deepen our relationship. It represents, for me, your invitation after the events of 2009 to rekindle our “spiritual connection.” We all need to realize that Love Never Felt So Good as it does now, when you are with us in an entirely different and more intimate way than ever.

And, finally, “When someone in the dark reaches out to you … It touches off a spark that comes shining through … It tells you “never be afraid.” I remember so well when I first heard that song and recognized you as my “someone in the dark.”

Promise me
We’ll always be
Walking the world … together
Hand-in-hand
Where dreams never end
My star secret friend …
And me.

And I have promised that … repeatedly in these Conversations … from the first to the most recent.

The thing is that I also felt so reassured … and loved … and cherished.

Good! There ya go! That was the point. Like I’ve told you so many times before: I LOVE YOU MORE!

Just put your trust in my heart
And meet me in paradise 

I’m here with all of you, if you will let me be here with all of you. It doesn’t matter where you are, “where there is love, I’ll be there.” You know that, don’t you?

Yes, Michael, I know that. And I can’t tell you how unbelievably grateful I am in that knowledge.

Good! You of all people should know that!

Grief and anger and excessive mourning over what is does no good … and it can block you from feeling my presence, as I’ve told you before. You get yourself all tied up in knots and it becomes a little harder for me to untangle those knots and get you back to the joy you feel in my love and your awareness of it.

Please don’t get me wrong. I know that your grief is founded in the love that we have all found here together; I appreciate all your love; I understand that as spiritual beings still very much committed to your human experience, you depend on your human, physical senses to relate to your reality. You want to see me; you want to hear me; you want to feel me with your physical senses.

However, we are creating a new reality, here … one that holds great promise for you and for your world. In order to create this new reality, which recognizes and promotes the spiritual aspects of the human experience that have been ignored for centuries, we have to exercise the spiritual senses you all were endowed with in considerable depth. Sometimes, you don’t understand that you have an entire array of spiritual senses that need to be developed and that is what we are doing here.

All of you are making so much progress in this and I am so proud of you all. However, occasionally, some of you think of all the sad things that happened in the past and you start to wallow.

I was not wallowing! I was commemorating!

Yeah! That’s what I said, “wallowing!’ [Michael giggles.]

Okay, so maybe I went a little overboard, huh?

[Jan gets a visual of Michael throwing a round life preserver from an ocean going vessel into a vast expanse of water.]

Okay, now, that is just plain cruel.

Well, if you can tease me, I can tease you!

The point is that things have changed. And that’s okay. I don’t deny that. It is inevitable. Change is what life is all about; it is the one constant you can count on, regardless of context. You are experiencing this as a sad thing, especially at this time of year, instead of celebrating all the wonderful things that have occurred in the past eight years for all of you.

Some of you have traveled to places you never thought you would see in a million years. Some of you have met people who will become lifelong friends. Others are developing talents you had always told yourselves were impossible for you. Some of you have done all three. All of this is a process of expansion for all of us.

You think of it as the anniversary of my death. These thoughts lead you to all the sad and uncomfortable things that occurred leading up to what you perceive as that ending. “The last song … the last rehearsal … the last whatever …” which inevitably leads to gloomy thoughts and wallowing in what could have been “if only …”

The thing is: there is no such thing as death. It is the anniversary of our expansion … the first step of our ASCENSION. And that is more than sufficient cause for celebration.

I have an idea that may help. Have you ever tried thinking of it as OUR BIRTHDAY? Because it is, you know. It is the anniversary of our union. We celebrate the passage from invisible to visible as our birthday. Why can’t we celebrate the passage from visible to invisible as another birthday? It makes a lot more sense because it was not just MY birthday. We share it. It was all of yours as well.

All of you who hear me in the music or in these Conversations … who see me in little signs like license plates and crescent moons and full moons and repeating numbers, it is your birthday, too. It was when WE were born to this new kind of relationship we have spent the last eight years exploring.

As I told you several times during my physical life, believe me, the best is yet to come if you can just stop resisting what was and begin to celebrate what IS. I am not done with you, yet. We have so much still to explore.

When you live in our ONENESS, it becomes more difficult to be overcome by grief because you realize in all those little signs that I am right here waiting for you to be ready to take the next step in realizing and experiencing our ONENESS more fully … more intimately … for all time.

Now that we have that out of the way, I want you to tell me about your recent trip.

Okay, Beloved. For some time now, I have hesitated to travel to Los Angeles and Neverland during what has become known in recent years as “Michael Week.” The trip, itself, is a grueling experience for me. In addition, there are so many people … and so many events scheduled … during that week that the energy of the week becomes frantic and overwhelming for me, which produces a certain amount of anxiety. I try to mask it, but I am not cut out for all that activity. It’s like trying to be something I know I am not.

Yeah, that is never a good situation. I always felt a little baffled by all the pandemonium that attended me trying to go anywhere. You know that I was generally uncomfortable in large crowds, too, unless I was on stage. I do understand how you feel.

While I do not judge the many celebrations that occur and I do not impose my affinity for more contemplative activity on anyone else, for me as an individual who craves quiet communion with you as the uppermost reason for the trip, the hectic schedule becomes a bit disorienting. And as I am getting older I find it a little harder to keep up. My feet swell; my knees ache; my back and ankles become increasingly uncomfortable as the week goes on and I find the discomfort distracting. I have never found large crowds comfortable and it seems that my discomfort is increasing as the years go by.

In addition, some of the people who gather in Los Angeles for the anniversary celebrations are more concentrated on the “Superstar” persona and less focused on the “spiritual master” that I think of when I think of you and that is one of the things I appreciate most about you.

Oh? What’s that?

You have the ability to meet each of us where we are in our individual journeys with you and lead us forward from there.

Of course! You are all on the same journey. You’ve just stopped at different rest stops along the way, as we’ve talked about before when we discussed the trial of Conrad Murray, if you’ll forgive the analogy. [Michael laughs.]

[Reference: Volume 1, Installment 25, Page 249]

This year, a couple of my friends invited a few of us to a “spiritual retreat” focusing on your ongoing spiritual impact on our lives in the wilds of the Canadian Rocky Mountains – Lake Louise, to be exact. From the moment I heard of this idea, I wanted to be a part of it. It sounded so up my alley. I felt a strong sense of being “called” (for lack of a better term.) I determined then and there that I was going to make my attendance at this spiritual retreat happen, somehow.

Good! You are beginning to listen to some of those promptings that are a little less tangible. They can’t really be defined. You “felt a sense of calling.” There is just a sense of knowing that this experience will benefit you in some way. And, as always, when you are benefitted, the world is benefitted because a healed you equals a healed world.

As so often happens when you are involved, my love, the obstacles to my participation … from obtaining a new passport to figuring out how to get there … seemed to just dissolve and blow away. I spent the months leading up to the trip making little gifts and imagining myself there and painting my imaginings. In other words, I was totally absorbed in visualizing the trip and the sense of renewal and revival it would afford.

And? How did it go?

Like clockwork, Beloved, as always. As you mentioned earlier, I had often heard that Lake Louise was one of the few places of natural beauty – nearly untouched and pristine – left on this beautiful planet, but I had never anticipated that I would get the opportunity to see it up close and personal. It was such a blessing in every sense of the term. The trip, itself, was the longest road trip I have ever been on (two full 14 hour days in the vehicle) but I was with three friends in a comfortable van.

Not only can I forgive your little analogy above … I so appreciate it after that road trip. There were times when I thought that I would give anything for a rest stop. As a matter of fact, as we were driving through Saskatchewan, the Canadian authorities must have been aware of this need because they had placed porta-potties in little off road sites for easy access specifically for such occasions. How thoughtful of them!

We had your music and your words to pass the time in total immersion with you and we were all looking forward to seeing the beautiful mountains when we arrived and sharing our “Michael” stories.

The scenery was beautiful beyond words, the mountains in the distance snow-capped between the nearer objects and the sky. We stayed with our friends in Calgary the first night and visited the tree they planted several years ago in memory of you in a beautiful park overlooking Calgary, Alberta, Canada to begin our pilgrimage.

As we drove into the mountains, they loomed larger and larger and gorgeous waterfalls could be seen cascading down the rocky cliffs as the snow melted. What a beautiful drive it was; we couldn’t take enough pictures of the area.

Our hotel was located at the foot of the mountains and was surrounded by snow-covered peaks for our entire five-day stay.  As a matter of fact, there was a blizzard that dropped about six inches of snow on May 24.

We spent the entire time immersing ourselves in your energy with daily sunrise meditations at Lake Louise, an energy vortex reputed to be dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel, which seemed eminently appropriate … and eating fabulous food at the restaurants at the hotel and in the immediate vicinity.

There were planned group sessions during which we all shared our experiences with you both before and after the day the earth stood still and invited you to be among us. Our beautiful artist brought many of her paintings to decorate the living area of our meeting room, so you were very present in all our thoughts.

It was amazing to hear everyone’s stories and realize that, although individuals with different backgrounds, ages, and experiences, we all shared many common elements in our ongoing relationships with you, including experiencing the thought that we had all gone crazy and deciding that sanity (as the world defines it) is way over-rated, anyway.

I had been feeling that I wanted to renew our relationship and the energy of the physical area, the beautiful mountain scenery, and the companionship of this group of friends who share that relationship were perfect for the purpose. The only drawback was that I had underestimated the tendency for the mountains to fluctuate so drastically in temperature and had not packed enough winter clothing. As a result, I managed to catch a miserable cold on the second day there. By the third day it had settled in for the long haul, which curtailed my fullest possible participation for the rest of the week a little.

Nevertheless, I would not have traded the experience for all the tea in China. On the return trip, we took a different route and were able to stop at Rushmore (yet another place I never thought I would see) and eat lunch at the wonderful cafeteria below the monument.

On my return, and once I recovered from my illness, I created a little video with some of the photos of the mountains and a poem I wrote to preserve the memories of this remarkable journey.

One of the most remarkable discoveries I made was that I can manage to feel you with me anywhere; I don’t have to travel to Los Angeles. I felt you very strongly and talked to you throughout this recent pilgrimage.

Of course! I believe I told you that earlier in these Conversations. I am with you always and you are always in my heart.

So, now that your two weeks of focusing on all the sad things that happened in the past is over, let’s return to being grateful and immersing our thoughts and energies in our ONENESS.

We have lots to do.

Indeed, we do, Beloved. And I am sorry, but I have added another activity to our already fairly full schedule.

Oh? What’s that?

I am determined to learn how to read music. It’s a little like learning a whole new language with a different alphabet. Can you help?

No … not really. I don’t read music. 

I know, but I went out and bought myself a keyboard a couple of weeks ago and I want to learn how to play … or at least be able to hunt and peck my way through … some of your music. I have the Jackson 5 Anthology, Dangerous, and HIStory sheet music books and I am going to teach myself how to play at least the easiest ones.

But I can encourage you and support you when you get discouraged.

I figure a keyboard is easier to play than a harp and there are no strings to break or tune. So, it would probably be easier to teach myself to read music using it. Then, I can move up to the harp.

Just remember not to get discouraged. And don’t forget what we’ve learned with all your other activities.

I know … Practice, practice, practice until you get it right … then, practice some more until you get it beautiful. It will definitely be a challenge.

You go, gurl!

 

 

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Contradictions

June 22, 2017

Once again, June is upon us. Another year has faded into the mists … eight of them since the day the Earth stood still … 96 months. Much has occurred in those 96 months; there have been milestones to celebrate; there have been losses to mourn. The one greatest loss overshadows them all and I return always to the undeniable fact of absence … absence that tears at the heart and paralyzes the intellect … because it is so unnecessary.

20170612_112606

My thanks to Siren for the drawing lesson.

It is the absence of love … and its greatest modern protagonist, Michael Jackson, at least in his physical embodiment, for he is not absent in my life … nor, I would wager, in many of yours. His love is the one great constant that blesses me in every moment of my day … every day … always … and in all ways. So, while his absence is a wound that seeps and oozes with misery, his presence is the air I breathe, the path I walk, my religion, my wealth, my sanity, and my TRUTH. My eyes burn for the sight of him; my ears reach out for the sound of his voice; yet, he is here and my heart is full to overflowing with that knowledge. Contradictions.

As a child, June held such promise that I couldn’t wait for it to arrive. I so looked forward to the freedom of summer days when the school year was just a distant memory and the coming of fall too far in the future to waste my time worrying about.

I loved to swim … oh, how I loved to swim. Diving under the surface of the water where all was monotone silence to swim as far across the pool as my deeply held breath could carry me was a passion for my younger self; the coolness of the water on a hot summer day took my breath away and raised gooseflesh on my often sunburned skin. I used to have a recurring dream that I could breathe underwater and how I loved attempting to make that dream come true during my waking hours.

Now in the twilight of my life, June has become a month of contradictions and an emotional roller coaster … and I have never particularly liked roller coasters. In some ways, I celebrate the month for its joys, particularly when I am traveling to the Holy Land, my Mecca, in Glendale, California and the Santa Ynez Valley near Santa Barbara, where the very landscape breathes of the man who walked its sacred hills and valleys with reverence for the preciousness of all life and learned how to milk a cow on one of the farms that line Figueroa Mountain Road.

He was the King of Contradictions, through no intention of his own. His reverence for life was overshadowed, for a time, with monumental irreverence for his life. His sensitivity was met with cold-hearted insensitivity.  His compassion and caring for the children of a society that just doesn’t care a fig if two children … or two thousand children … die today from hunger, preventable diseases, or domestic violence was met with disdain, disbelief and accusation. Contradictions.

His laughter, playfulness and curiosity can still be felt in the whisper of the wind as it rustles the leaves on the tree that shades the massive wooden gates and guardhouse of his monument to love, Neverland Valley Ranch. Even in absentia, he plays with the hair of those who congregate to celebrate his life and the uncountable gifts he left us. As the wind lifts my admittedly almost nonexistent hair from my forehead, I raise my face to the leaf-shaded blue of the sky, incandescent in its brilliance, and inhale deeply. It is the Beloved’s fingers massaging my temples and scalp … I sigh.

Some gather at his monument to love to socialize … to renew acquaintances … to meet with others from far distant lands who travel an accumulative million miles from the four corners of the earth to rest on the small patch of sod, always newly laid and manicured, lush and green, near the natural stone-lined rose garden that borders the road. Others come to renew their faith, revive their spirits, and commune with the essence of the man whose presence is still palpable in this most sacred of cathedrals raised to love since the multitude of Gothic spires was lifted heavenward in the mists of antiquity.

Most of the visitors to this basilica are reverential, their voices a low hum, easily ignored. Occasionally, one or two will become a bit more boisterous than absolutely necessary, however, they are usually easily tolerated and eventually become quieter through the example of the many others whose purpose is less about socializing and more about paying homage to the one who draws them all. During one of my pilgrimages to this Mecca, I witnessed a man who had come to aggrandize himself with raised voice and video camera in tow silenced by one who objected to his consumerism in this Holy of Holies. I can still see it … for I am there … and I laugh appreciatively at the memory with gratitude for having had the opportunity to bear witness.

June bears days when our hearts rejoice over victories while, in the next breath, they plummet to the very depths of despair and anguish over the injustice of the battle that should never have had to be fought to begin with.

We see the exhaustion … the soul weariness … in the faltering steps of our Beloved in the photographic evidence that remains to remind us; we see the dignity, the strength, the endurance, and the love … yes, even through the pain.  We also see the inevitable, unstoppable, ever-escalating slide toward the day that most of us would give our lives to forget, but which is indelibly etched in our minds by the chisel of the sharpness and suddenness of the pain of this absence. Contradictions.

The contradictions are glaring. Perhaps, they are there to help us see the extreme opposites … and make a choice between them. Which do you choose? My choice has been made. I think, for me, the overall lesson of June, especially the last eight of them, must be to learn to be grateful for both the victories and the routs. Without the defeat that we all so mourn, could the milestones we have all achieved, individually and collectively, have occurred and have been appreciated in the same way? I don’t think so.

This June finds me reflecting on all the dear friends I have made through the love of this one man, all the unforgettable experiences I have had, all the beautiful places I have seen, all the projects I have pursued and brought to completion (not the least of which is this blog), and those yet to come. I am grateful for them all and I appreciate each and every one of you, my readers.

But most especially, I am grateful to my Beloved for always being who you are … and for teaching me to be who I am through an innumerable amount of contradictions.

I once read a story … I can’t remember where. It was about the violet hiding in the grass until along came a man wearing hard-soled shoes who, unaware, crushed the violet. Even crushed beyond recognition, the violet blessed the man for crushing her under his weight because it allowed her to release her fragrance and to bestow upon him her gift, that unmistakable scent that only crushing the violet could release. I am the violet under the Florsheims of the Beloved. Let mine be the sweet, unmistakable fragrance that blesses you forever, Beloved. It is my soul … and sole … purpose. It is my JOY. It is my TRUTH.

May all be safe in their travels in the “love bubble.”

 

 

 

 

 

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20170513_130118

I wrote the following tribute to our dear Catherine last week in the hopes that I would be able to find someone to read it at her services on May 15, 2017, however, I have been unable to do so. I am posting it here in her memory and honor, as my personal tribute to a good friend and remarkable woman.

Well, I guess Catherine won’t have to emigrate to Canada (an idea that she proposed in the last few months of her remarkable life.) Instead, she has emigrated to a much higher plane.

Many of you present here today may think of Catherine as a mother, a grandmother, an aunt, an educator, an administrator, or a personal friend. However, it may surprise you to know that she was thought of in much the same fashion by her friends in the Michael Jackson Fan Community, which has members in every country, on every continent on this planet. In the Michael Jackson Fan Community, Dr. Reverend Catherine M. Gross was a shining star. She was a teacher; she was a mentor; she was a minister; she was a friend; and she lead by example. She was a tower of strength in times of struggle, a beacon of LOVE and UNITY, and a bridge spanning the sometimes vast distances between us.

Many of us got to know her through her on-line radio talk show, A Place In Your Heart, which was broadcast internationally. Personally, when she talked to me to ask if she could conduct an interview with me, I was dumbfounded. I had never thought of myself as an interesting subject for an interview, but she insisted that I had a lot to say and that she wanted to devote an entire show to me and to my books. Catherine saw potential in everyone she ever met or talked to, often long before he or she saw that potential themselves. She nurtured that potential in every way she could. She encouraged, uplifted and brought out the best in everyone. As a teacher, I imagine Catherine’s students would tell much the same story.

Later, when I was determined to learn to draw, Catherine invited me to participate in an Art Exhibition. Once again, I was hesitant. (You would have thought I would have learned my lesson by this time, but I am pretty stubborn.) My earliest drawings were certainly nothing to exhibit. Nonetheless, she insisted. Catherine was like Michael Jackson in many ways. One of those ways was: If it was worth doing, to Catherine it was worth doing BIG! If you’re going to make a splash, make it a BIG splash.She was talking about makeup artists, getting our hair done, and having television cameras on the scene. For a novice artist, Catherine’s “can do,” “let’s go” attitude was frightening. I was ready for baby steps; Catherine was setting up the marquee with neon lights. God love her.

This dream kept Catherine strong during the almost year and a half from May 2015 through August of the following year, when her health took a turn for the worse. I talked with Catherine every evening during her hospital and nursing home stays on the pretext of reading to her from my vast library of inspirational works by Kahlil Gibran, Gregg Braden, Rabindranath Tagore, and my own humble publications. Every evening without fail, regardless of how well she felt, she ended our conversation with the thought that this Michael Jackson Art Exhibition was going to happen. She was determined to make it a reality; and she succeeded. I am so grateful that she lived to realize the dream that she had held onto with such vigor and faith. Her wonderful inaugural Michael Jackson Art Exhibition happened in Gary, Indiana in August, 2016 and I did participate along with artists from Hong Kong, Russia, Sweden, The Netherlands, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, and the United States.

My thanks to Noble Love for the wonderful video.

It was a remarkable achievement, the crowning glory for a strong, determined, spiritual, faith-filled woman who has left her mark on all of our hearts. Catherine was determined that the Michael Jackson Art Exhibit would be an annual event to bring the fan community together and she would have moved heaven and earth to make that happen. At the time of her Continuation Day, she was in negotiations to find a permanent home for the art she had collected and wanted to expand the exhibit to include costumes, sculptures, and even performance art.

Catherine, thank you for your faith in me … your faith in all of us. I won’t say I will miss you, because, as Michael Jackson sang, “You are always in my heart.”

Jan Carlson

 

 

 

 

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Installment 108

March 23 – March 29, 2017

 

Can we talk about your latest drawing?

Michael, my love, we can talk about anything you want to talk about. I have to admit, this latest drawing has been a bit of a revelation in many ways. I would love to discuss it with you, if you have the time. I have lots of questions.

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Caitlyn

[Michael laughs.] You always have lots of questions and I have nothing but time and nothing I would rather do. I think it is important that we discuss this for a lot of different reasons that we can get into later. But, first, tell me about Caitlyn.

Caitlyn was my little niece. It is one of my greatest regrets that I never met her due to my brother living so far away from me.

And what have we said in previous conversations about regret?

Don’t regret what didn’t happen then. Do it now!

Exactly. There is already here and then is already now. You don’t have to suffer regret. You don’t have to send your prayers back in time or anywhere else because you are already there and she is always here.

There is always an element of blame in regret; usually you are blaming yourself. Where you see a lack or an absence, don’t blame yourself. Don’t regret; do it NOW.

Caitlyn transitioned in the early days of our acquaintance, around 1994 or 1995, I think. She was a beautiful little girl who developed leukemia very early in her life. Of course, the discovery of her illness was a devastating blow to her mother and father, my brother and his wife.

At the time, it was thought that a bone marrow transplant would save her life, so the entire family was genetically tested for compatibility, including myself, but no compatible match was found. I’ve always felt badly that I was incompatible.

Ah, now we are getting to the crux of the matter. Why?

Why what?

Why would you feel badly about something that you could not control? Please understand … that is a rhetorical question for the purposes of this discussion.

I did this myself all the time; we all do. This is a very common experience in the human condition. We have a tendency to blame ourselves in situations like this and we make ourselves “wrong” or “less” than we are as a result.  I can understand you being disappointed; that is only natural. But it wasn’t your fault that your tests didn’t show compatibility.

I know.

Would you have donated your bone marrow if your DNA was a perfect match?

Yes, absolutely I would have.

You would have had the surgery?

Definitely.

Okay. Go on.

Well, from the discovery of her disease to her transition, little Caitlyn spent a lot of time in and out of hospitals receiving blood transfusions and treatments. St. Jude’s was a God-send to my brother’s family.

My friends and I sent balloons. My brother told me at the time that little Caitlyn loved to play with the balloons with her daddy and would smile and laugh as the helium-inflated balloons floated around her as he held her in his arms, despite being tethered to intravenous tubes. She would reach out and try to catch the brightly-colored balloons and laugh as they floated out of reach.

Little Caitlyn fought her disease bravely and was a happy, loving child until the very end. Her journey ended in her father’s arms as he rocked her in the rocking chair in her hospital room.

That’s where you’re wrong. Her journey did not end and I think you knew that at the time, didn’t you?

Yes, I knew, although I didn’t understand it as fully as I do now.

What did you do?

Well, once again, my friends and I sent a large bouquet of balloons to the funeral with the request that they be released into the air for Caitlyn to play with.

Then, I sat down and wrote a story about Caitlyn in which I entrusted her to your loving care.  In my story, I placed my little niece’s soul into the safest hands I knew … yours. My logical, rational brain thought this was a silly thing to do because you were still very much in the physical dimension at the time, but it felt like the right thing, somehow.

I don’t remember much of the story. It’s lost somewhere in the bowels of my first computer in the attic along with the electronic copy of my first book, but I know I sent the story to one of the European fan magazines. I think it was KING! Or Black or White, but I can’t remember which. The story was published in one of its regular issues.

So, you sent little Caitlyn to Neverland to play with me?

Yes, in a nutshell. At the time, I had not read a great deal about time being flexible and fluid or about how even though a part of us is involved in a human experience, there is still a major portion of our more expansive, vaster self that is always anchored in the spiritual realm. [Reference: Installment #40 – Volume 1 – Page 380] And I wasn’t blessed with these formal Conversations with you, although we did share a wonderful connection which was steadily growing stronger.

Despite all that, somehow, it just felt right to entrust her to your care, instinctively, if you will.

But, I’ve always regretted never getting to know my beautiful, brave little niece and I’ve always felt that I wasn’t much of an aunt to her, felt guilty that I wasn’t there for her during her short, little life.

Felt guilty.

Yes … felt guilty.

This guilt thing is a real issue with you, isn’t it? You felt guilty that you were not able to save her life by donating your bone marrow even though you knew that there was nothing you could have done to change that; you felt guilty because you never knew her; you felt guilty because you didn’t measure up to some picture you have in your mind of an ideal aunt, whatever that is. That’s a lot of guilt.

As we’ve said so often before, guilt is one of the most damaging emotions in the human emotional arsenal. One of the things that makes it so damaging is that often what we feel guilty about is something over which we had no control, like not being a compatible genetic match to save your little niece’s life. Could you have changed that?

No.

Of course not. The other is that we bury these feelings of guilt behind everyday busyness and we never deal with them in a healthy way. Then, we defend the walls we built around all those little hurts like one would defend the walls of a castle under siege from the most fully-equipped, battle-ready army.

Using you as an example, you have carried this burden of guilt for more than twenty years buried beneath all the things you do every day and all the walls you have built around them to protect yourself from them. It has been there, lurking in the shadows until very recently. It’s  kinda the monster under your bed (and it is NOT alone under there), waiting to eat you in the night until someone takes a flashlight and shines it under the bed to show you that it’s just the shadow cast by your shoes.

So, what happened to bring little Caitlyn out of the shadows?

Well, while I have often thought of her, she would have celebrated her birthday in March and my sister posted a photograph of her in memoriam. As soon as I saw the photograph, I knew that I wanted to attempt to draw it. I mulled the idea over for a few days, but it scared me. I have never tried to draw a baby before and the thought of attempting it first with my perfect little niece frightened me.

Eventually, I overcame my fear, got out a piece of paper and made my first attempt, which was NOT a success. Drawing a baby is a lot harder than I thought it would be and I spent a couple of days trying to talk myself out of this project … but failed and tried again. On my second attempt, I had a little more success and I think I captured her sweetness.

And … now … the rest of the story. [Michael does a perfect imitation of Paul Harvey and laughs.]

Well, I sent a photo of the drawing to my sister-in-law and brother, hoping that they would not be offended by my no doubt poor attempt at capturing Caitlyn and they think the painting is beautiful, so I will be sending the pastel painting to them in the mail.

That is not what I meant and you know it. What has been happening in your inner world every time you close your eyes since finishing this piece of art?

I have been seeing my story, which I wrote over twenty years ago, coming true. I have been seeing Caitlyn with you at Neverland. The first and second day after completing it, I saw you holding her in your arms, with Caitlyn straddling your waist and playing with your hat.  She was laughing and your smile was HUGE and your giggle was so heartwarming.

Yesterday, I saw her running up to you and holding her arms up to be lifted up as babies do with people they trust. You bent down to pick her up and kissed her little cheek and she giggled and knocked your hat to the ground. You laughed and snuggled her close.

Yes! That’s what I’m talking about!

I have never been able to visualize her before at all, much less at Neverland with you, but now I see her every time I close my eyes. You are always with her and she is always full to bubbling over with joy.

And what does this tell you?

I don’t know how to interpret this change, really. Perhaps, my drawing has freed her to finally be released into your care?

No, although I can understand your confusion. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the mirror image from the real thing … at least, until you change your perspective.

She was always free. She has been a frequent visitor to Neverland since you wrote your story. I have held her in my arms many times both during the times when I was physically present and since. She has always been a light in my world. She is such a pure and innocent soul; I love her very much. You can neither free nor bind her because she is beyond such restrictions and limitations and always has been just as you can neither free nor bind me and for the same reason.

The truth is both much simpler and much more complicated than that. By spending time and love in drawing her, you have freed yourself to perceive her joy.  You have dismantled the walls you built around your hurt at not being good enough to heal her little body and you have begun to forgive yourself for your failings.

You have gotten out the flashlight and dispelled the darkness under the bed (at least in the case of this issue … there are still LOTS of monsters lurking there … don’t worry too much about them, though … we will be working with them as they arise.)

You have laid your blame and guilt aside with every stroke, taken the blinders they represent off, and opened your spiritual sight. You have taken her out of the shadow of your guilt and regret and allowed yourself to see her with me laughing and playing despite what you have perceived for more than twenty years as your shortcomings in the “aunt department.”

Do you see how your vision has been distorted through the lens of what you perceive as your shortcomings? We all do this all the time with everything we see and all that we experience. We view people, situations, and circumstances through our individual lenses and interpret them accordingly. Since our perception is distorted our interpretations are similarly misaligned.

We don’t see “reality” at all; we see our perceptions of “reality” and, often our perceptions of reality are distorted through the lenses of our experiences, judgments, and definitions of ourselves.

You and I were never separate
It’s just an illusion
Wrought by the magical lens
Of perception

Those “magical lenses” affect everything we see and, therefore, everything we do. Often those lenses are grounded deep within the experiences of our childhoods as we talked about in a lot of detail in one of our very earliest dialogs. [Reference: Installment 3 – Volume 1 – Page 21]

Now, do you mind if we talk about this “ideal aunt” concept that you have yourself convinced that you don’t measure up to?

No, I don’t mind at all, Beloved, but I don’t know how to describe it.

Never mind about that. We’ll get there eventually.

Being from a large family, let me just preface this section of our Conversation with the observation that “aunts” come in all different shapes and sizes. Some are very “hands on” and some are not. Some are nurturing and supporting and some are not. Some are demanding and want to shape you into their idea of the perfect nephew or niece and some give you the space to find your own way.

In other words, as many descriptions as apply to human beings apply to aunts. Why don’t you begin by telling me about your aunts.

I would be happy to, Beloved, but I don’t have any. Well, that’s not exactly true. I believe I have them, but I have never known them. When my mother married my stepfather, she moved to a large city several hundred miles away from her family and severed all ties with my father’s family. I only had her mother and father as an extended family and never knew my father’s brothers or any of my cousins on either side at all. We were pretty isolated. Although I have recently become acquainted with a cousin through social media, I have never met her.

However, she has told me that her father (my uncle Earl) was an artist whose art hangs in a museum in San Juan and that he inherited his artistic ability from our grandfather, which was news to me. Imagine being 67 years old and not knowing something like that. It’s an odd feeling.

When we left my mother and stepfather’s house, my brothers and sister and I all ended up living hundreds of miles away from each other as well.

So, you’ve never really had any extended family nor the examples they could have provided, particularly in the area of “aunthood.”

No, not really.

Being from such a large family I could almost envy that. [Michael laughs.]

Well, during our “participatory therapy sessions,” [Installment #86 – Volume 3, page 39] one of the insights I had has a direct bearing on this situation. Do you mind if we talk briefly about that?

No, not at all. Please explain.

Well, back in the 1950s, the line of demarcation between religious affiliations was much more finely drawn. My mother’s family was staunchly devout and their allegiance was to the Roman Catholic Church, which was adamant in its assertion of being the only TRUE church. Back then, if you weren’t Catholic, you were destined for hell. I don’t think it has changed too much since, except Pope Francis seems to be a much more open-minded and ecumenical kind of Pope, so I have hope that, perhaps, this exclusivity issue will change in the not-too-distant future.

I believe my father’s family was Protestant as they hailed from England. Back then, good Catholic girls did not marry into Protestant families; good Protestant boys were not easily accepted into Catholic families … and, generally, if such marriages occurred, it was against their parent’s wishes. Any children from such “mixed” marriages were considered illegitimate, in other words, bastards.

Do you see what we do to each other with our judgments and prejudices? Even in families, which are supposed to be loving, caring, and supportive, we harm each other with irrelevant judgments.

It’s similar to the black/white racial issues. Children are children and they are harmed by these kinds of judgments and prejudices. You were severely damaged for many years by beliefs that were probably passed down to your grandparents from their parents and grandparents and great-grandparents for generations. In this case, the “US” and “THEM” mentality was promoted by a church, which was intended to bring all people into oneness.

It is so sad.

Of course, I don’t know for sure that this religious difference is a hard and fast fact; I am surmising. It feels right. This could have been a factor in my grandmother and grandfather’s refusal to help my mother take care of my brother and I when she needed to enter the workforce, something that was not common in 1955.

It could also have affected the complete severance of all ties with my father’s family after his death and resulted in my lack of extended family life.

This insight occurred to me during our therapy sessions over a six or seven week period back then (April and May 2014) when we were processing my grandmother and releasing her to “Go with God.”

Yes, I remember this one took a little longer because your hurt and defenses were very strong.

Well, I had always viewed my grandmother as perfect in every way. It was hard for me to realize that she, too, was human and as much a victim of the religious, cultural, and ideological prejudices prevailing at the time as was I.

And I think you’re right. That could very well be a major factor.

But I think the relevant point here is that you have nothing upon which to base your ideal of “aunthood.” You are separated by hundreds of miles from your brothers and sister and have no knowledge of aunts or uncles from your childhood. So, tell me … what does your ideal aunt look like?

Promise me you won’t laugh.

I promise you faithfully and with full conviction that I won’t laugh AT you … I will only laugh WITH you. Is that good enough?

Yes, thank you, Beloved. Well, she looks a little like the fairy Godmother in fairy tales. Kind, there when needed to turn mice into horses and rags into dazzling gowns, and able to dispel all hurt with a wave of her magic aunt wand.

Well, it’s pretty easy to understand how you see yourself as not measuring up to that. I mean, who could? And, of course, she is able to leap tall pumpkins in a single bound and cure leukemia in the blink of a DNA test.

Yes, pretty much.

Can I laugh just a little bit now? Never mind, I’ll save it for later.

You are so hard on yourself. Your love for your little niece is very evident in this piece of art. Your determination to do whatever you could do to help her, regardless of distance, also proves your love.

Now that you have dispelled the darkness under the bed (at least, in this instance), do you see how your guilt over what could not be controlled is just an illusion you created as a defense against your lack of self-worth and, then, defined yourself accordingly?

Do you remember when you told me that “plants don’t like you?”

Yes, of course I remember. [Reference: Installment #96 – Volume 3 – Page 235]

Do you still hold the same view?

No, I don’t.

What has changed?

Well, I have begun having a little bit of success with plants. My first gardenia (which we spoke about in Installment 96) did die, but it survived through the winter months last year and actually got a blossom on it in around March.

However, my husband bought me a beautiful, full gardenia this past summer and we set it outside in a nice, sunny place and it flourished, blooming several times. In addition, we found a lovely jasmine at a nursery and set it out during the summer months and it, too, flourished. When fall arrived, we brought them both in the house and they are both alive and healthy, awaiting spring when we will set them outside again.

Further, I got a huge peace lily and one of the girls gave me a phalaenopsis orchid, which also appear to be flourishing. As a matter of fact, there are seven long flowering stalks on my peace lily and five beautiful blossoms on my phalaenopsis orchid. It has re-blossomed after being dormant for months, literally.

Needless to say, that has never happened before!

And what have you been doing differently?

Well, I have designated Tuesday as “watering day” and have stuck to that schedule consistently. I have placed the gardenia in a southern window for more direct sunlight and the jasmine has a more muted eastern exposure. The peace lily and phalaenopsis orchid are on my desk in my north-facing art studio/sanctuary and benefit from the music and meditations that occur here regularly. I send all my plants loving, peaceful thoughts and, yes, I do talk to them when I water them. They all seem to be thriving.

There ya go! And what did I tell you when we discussed this issue in our earlier Conversation?

You said, and I quote:

All living things respond to love and encouragement. No exceptions.

Good … and you are discovering that this is true in your living plants … as well as in your living eternally niece.

All things thrive on love. It’s the way the universe was created. Even hurtful memories blossom into beautiful flower when paid a little loving attention.

Now, we will work on a change in the direction of your thinking. Instead of thinking, “I suck as an aunt,” we will begin thinking, “I am a loving aunt.” And instead of thinking, “Plants don’t like me,” we will begin thinking, “Even plants burst into beautiful flower in my presence.”

Love is always the answer. No exceptions.

 

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Installment 107


January 2 through January 17, 2017

My Anam Cara,

As we approach the inauguration of the President-elect, I’m afraid I have a confession to make.

Yes, I was wondering when you were going to get around to talking with me about this. Go ahead … get it off your chest, if it will make you feel better.

Well, I haven’t been very successful implementing our plan as it was laid out in our last Conversation. I’m experiencing extreme difficulty.  And what’s worse … I don’t know what I am doing wrong.

You are not doing anything wrong. That’s okay … it’s a big issue. Now, come on. Get the rest of it out.

The rest of it? Isn’t that enough?

No, because you haven’t touched on the biggest part of it, yet.

Failure isn’t the biggest part?

Failure is a judgment; like all judgments, it exists only in your mind. This is the root of your problem, but we will talk about that later, if that’s okay.

There is no such thing as failure in this or in anything else. There is only what works for you and what doesn’t work for you. So far, our visualizations haven’t been working to relieve your fear and anxiety. And that’s okay. There is nothing wrong in that. It is your judgment of it as a “failure” that is the problem and leads to the part you are covering up.

So, what am I missing? What is the biggest part?

Your guilt over what you are considering your failure to cover the situation in love and compassion is the elephant in the room.  As we’ve talked about many times before, guilt is one of the most damaging of human emotions. It can paralyze you, imprison you, and keep you from achieving your goals.

Your guilt over what you are considering your failure has been causing you to hesitate in talking with me about it, hasn’t it?

Yes, to be perfectly honest, it has.

You are so hard on yourself.  [I get a visual of Michael closing his eyes and shaking his head.]

You expect perfection from the starting gun. And when you don’t get it, you feel guilty and call your practice a failure (just like you used to call your earlier attempts at meditation and your earliest attempts at drawing failures.)

From there it is a very small step to judging yourself as a failure and throwing in the towel … giving up on the practice entirely … because you begin to believe that you are no “good at it.” You turn your judgment against yourself. Right?

Well, at least I haven’t done that, yet; I haven’t totally given up. And I am consistent. You have to give me that.

Yes, I will grant you that. You are consistent.

Then, of course, what you call a failure begins to make you feel depressed and more fearful and more anxious. And you slide down that slippery slope into a negative spiral from which it becomes difficult for you to recover. You begin to feel ashamed of yourself for your perceived failure.

You remind me of some of my former colleagues at Sony, wanting that MAGIC touch without investing the work and the money that creates MAGIC – the work, sweat, thought, and toil… the time and practice … that makes MAGIC happen. It takes time; it takes practice; it takes vision. It doesn’t just happen.

You sit down and visualize dropping LOVE bombs on the White House, COMPASSION bombs on the Capitol Building, HUMILITY bombs on the President-elect, and TOLERANCE bombs on the Supreme Court. You even visualize means of transport, like floating high above these locations in a hot air balloon with me … or throwing darts at the balloons suspended over representations of these buildings.

By the way, I’ve been meaning to tell you that these visualizations have really been exercising your visualization muscles. You are really giving them a workout.  I love that! You go, girl! [Michael chuckles.]

Yes, but, then, when I am sitting in a restaurant trying to eat and his face comes on the television set, there is an immediate physical reaction and I almost choke on my food. I usually try to recover and send a thought of support immediately afterwards, but the initial physical reaction indicates to me that I still have a long way to go.

This has actually happened a couple of times because so many of the restaurants my husband and I frequent have installed TVs. During the weeks leading up to the election in November, the 24-hour news cycle kept his face plastered across every channel. And, one day a couple of weeks ago, I was sitting in a restaurant with my husband and Nancy Grace’s face came on the television set. I almost gagged.

How many times do I have to tell you? Rome was not built in a day.

No matter how hard
The times may seem
Don’t give up our plans
Don’t give up our dreams
No broken bridges
Can turn us around
‘Cuz what we’re searching for
Will soon be found

We’re almost there
J
ust one more step
Just one more step
Don’t give up
We’re all almost there 

Look at the lonely lovers
That didn’t make it
It’s a long, hard climb
They just couldn’t take it
D
on’t let it happen
To me and you
Hold on together, darlin’
We’ll make it through 

Darlin’, keep on reaching out for me
Keep on reaching
D
o it for me
Do it for me

We’re almost there
Just one more step
Just one more step
Don’t give up
‘Cuz we’re almost there

We’re so close
I can taste it
A life so sweet
We can’t afford to waste it
If you feel your hand
Slipping from mine
Just hold on tighter, darlin’
Just keep on trying
Baby, do it for me
Do it for me 

We’re almost there 

You have chosen to embark on a journey, the most important journey of your life and one fraught with peril. Like Columbus, you have chosen to leave your old world behind and to perceive your reality in a new and unaccustomed way.

You depart, risking, perhaps even expecting, to fall off the edge of the earth only to discover that the earth doesn’t have edges. It’s round! Well, who knew? Like him, you are discovering that this may, indeed, be a circuitous route you have chosen.

He didn’t turn around at the first big wave and say, “Oh, well, the sea isn’t smooth.” And he was working with maps that read, “Here be dragons,” in the undiscovered parts. That was part of his mission … to dispel those myths that had kept human beings land bound for centuries.

You are discovering that the myths that have fashioned your world and your perceptions of it in the past are still in place, despite your best efforts to go around them.

Too high to get over
Too low to get under
You’re stuck in the middle
And the pain is thunder 

You have to be prepared to commit yourself to it for the long haul. It takes time to slay those dragons and it’s not easy. It’s not about arriving at some destination by the fastest and most direct route; it’s about preparing yourself to take the trip and not getting tripped up at the first sign of this phantom “failure.” It’s about learning to enjoy the journey.

Personally, I’m proud of you … and you should be, too. Your visualization skills are improving; just look at how far you have come in a relatively short time with this practice. Only a few very short years ago, you told me you were “no good” at visualizing anything. Now, you are flying around in hot air balloons!  In addition, you are trying to be as regular with your practice as you can, despite disruptions to your schedule.

Yes, my husband’s work schedule has changed dramatically over the last few months and he is home much more frequently during the day. I try to accomplish our readings and meditations as early as possible, but it is often late afternoon before I am free. This change in his work schedule has thrown a good size monkey wrench in my daily activities and I am finding that I have to be a lot more flexible about getting things accomplished.

I have considered setting my alarm for 6:00 or 6:30 AM to begin the day much earlier so that I can get more accomplished, but, then, I caught a cold and the holidays didn’t help. Now that we are getting back to a more normal routine, maybe I can manage my time a little better to fit in all the things I want to do … and it seems the list is growing. I have rediscovered the peaceful activity of knitting and I find that I am thoroughly enjoying it again as I did 35 years ago. It is soothing and good exercise for my hand so I am knitting an afghan.

[Michael laughs.] You sound like some kind of efficiency expert has visited your house and decided you are not making “efficient” use of your time. Efficient is another judgment, just like worthy/unworthy, success/failure, or any other judgment.

I thought you were retired. This is your time to relax and have fun. You don’t have any quota to meet … no schedule to keep … no obligations about how you spend your time. Flexibility is a good thing.

It’s not the end of the world if your meditation time is flexible, but it is good if you do spend a few minutes every day just breathing and visualizing the best outcome for everyone. You sound like you have an “inner slave driver” cracking the whip over you. Silence that inner taskmaster. Relax! Breathe! You’re getting yourself all tied in knots again.

The thing you are missing in this practice is the “judgment factor.” And it is a significant factor. You are visualizing our love bombs falling all around Washington, D.C., but you are still judging everyone involved, including the President-elect, as the devil incarnate.

As we said in our last conversation, he is not; he’s just a man, prone to mistakes and not infallible just like any other man. He may be a man you disagree with and you may disagree with him for very good reasons, but you don’t have to agree with everything he says or does. All you have to do is acknowledge that you disagree … and accept that you disagree. You are not going to change him; and he is not going to change you.

That does not make you “good” and him “bad;” it just means that you disagree. And that’s okay. It is not an either/or proposition; it is a both/and conscious choice.

20170116_100915.jpg

The same “judgment” factor comes into play often in global politics as well as personal politics. One nation does something that another disagrees with and the second nation automatically judges the situation according to its understanding. That’s how wars start. It’s okay to disagree; there is room on earth for both points of view. You don’t need to attack just because you are not in complete agreement. As long as no one is being harmed, disagreement is just disagreement … not the end of life as we know it.

You are doing to the President-elect exactly what was done to me during my physical life despite the fact that you objected so strongly to what was done to me for so very long. Can’t you see that you are demonizing him … dehumanizing him … making him “other” based on little more than his appearance and your perceptions of what he says and does. The entire world judged me in the same way that you are judging him because you haven’t been afforded the opportunity to sit down and discuss the issues you disagree about with him on a one-to-one basis.

It is your judgment of him that is causing you stress and anxiety. If you could stop judging him you would see a vast improvement in your anxiety level. Then, your daily practice would begin to feel more advantageous and beneficial. Total agreement is not necessary; only a willingness to see past the appearances is required.

If you could see past the appearance to the reality of the President-elect, you would perceive an uncomfortable truth: He is much like you in many ways. He is insecure but he covers the pain of his insecurity with larger-than-life bragging as much in an effort to convince himself as to convince you; when he is criticized, he acts out his anger in a way you disagree with.

Well, he keeps doing stupid stuff!

[Michael laughs.] See what I mean? Like what?

Well, during the lead up to the election I heard him say that he didn’t pay taxes because he didn’t have to pay taxes. He posed the question, “Why should I give my money if I am not required to?” I was appalled when I heard that. All responsible citizens are required to pay taxes. He enjoys all the benefits of citizenship … and then some. As a responsible citizen, he should pay taxes. If he’s above the law, there is no law.

I think this tax season, we should all contact our tax preparers and let them know that we will not be paying taxes because the President doesn’t pay taxes. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

That would be anarchy, but it might bring the point home in a way that he understands. As far as I’m concerned, there are only two ways this man understands anything – his pocketbook and his gonads. If the country couldn’t pay for the heating bill on the White House and his secret service agents, maybe he would get the point. Sorry, Baby!

That’s okay. Feel better? I sure am glad I got that off my chest, aren’t you?

You have been trained to judge everything, label it, and toss it into one of two bins … right/wrong … good/bad … acceptable/unacceptable. This is the “judgment factor” I referred to earlier.

If you continue to judge and label him and everything he does, you will experience limited success in your visualizations. Limited success … not no success … because placing yourself in the frame of mind that encompasses love and compassion will always be better than remaining in the fear and anxiety that is your normal perspective on this issue.

Beloved, you continually amaze me with the way our Conversations seem to reinforce or strengthen points that I am reading about in our readings.

What do you mean?

Well, as I mentioned in earlier discussions, we have been reading A Course in Miracles for our daily library time. We began at the beginning of the text several months ago and we have continued reading a little bit at a time every day.

The other day, I read the following on page 622 of the text:

“A dream of judgment came into the mind that God created perfect as Himself. And in that dream was Heaven changed to hell, and God made enemy unto His Son. How can God’s Son awaken from the dream? It is a dream of judgment. So must he judge not, and he will awaken. … Judgment is an injustice to God’s Son, and it is justice that who judges him will not escape the penalty he laid upon himself within the dream he made.”

As I am understanding this paragraph, the tendency toward judgment is the “knowledge of good and evil” which resulted in the human race being banished from the “Garden of Eden.” Have I got it wrong?

No, you haven’t got it wrong. It is definitely a way of looking at it.

We are all taught from infancy that there is a right way and a wrong way to do things, when, really, there is just your way and my way. Of course, parents want what is best for their children so they want them to do things in the way that will work out to do the most good for them, but, in the process, they teach their children to judge themselves and others according to their standards. Then, religious leaders add their standards … and educational systems add their standards … and society adds its standards … and we end up having impossible standards to live up to.

It is far better to see everyone as ONE of US versus one of them. Perceiving someone as one of “them” implies separation; the person is separate from you or you couldn’t judge him. If you see the entire human race as one large family and everyone as your brother or sister, it is far more difficult to judge someone.

This idea of separation has led to so many false conclusions, violence, wars, prejudice, bigotry, bullying. It has separated us from each other, from our God, and from our deepest, truest SELVES.

We all have this tendency to see ourselves as right and our neighbor as wrong. It is difficult to overcome because it has been ingrained in us for centuries, but it must be overcome if we are to heal our world.

We are all ONE and the sooner we all come to this realization, the sooner we will be able to heal our divisions, eradicate our cruelty, eliminate world poverty and hunger, cure our apathy, and cease our over-exploitation of the planet from which we spring.

Are you saying that I am ONE with Donald Trump?

Yes! That is exactly what I am saying. [Michael laughs.] Read my lips. WE ARE ALL ONE! That does include the President-elect of the United States no matter how much you disagree with him.

Um … Beloved … that’s going to be a pretty hard pill to swallow.

The question is: Will you try? Is it so difficult for you to see him as ONE of US?

Have you ever said something stupid? Have you ever done something you were ashamed of? When you look back on your life, have you ever shirked your responsibility when you felt you could get away with it? Have you ever been lazy or overbearing? Have you ever been loud or bombastic? Have you ever said something in the heat of anger that you wished you could take back?

Of course, I have … all too often I have fallen short of what I should have done or said. However, eventually I found myself feeling remorse and trying to make amends for the harm I’ve caused in the process.

He doesn’t seem to have those filters … at least, not as far as I can tell.

There, but for the Grace of God, go I!

It’s a simple sentence and a wonderful reminder that we are all capable of the noblest … and the least noble … of actions and words.

We’ve all done those things that harmed ourselves or our neighbors. In our haste, we’ve trampled on our neighbors’ feelings. We’ve all said ill-considered words to those we love most. None of us is perfect.

If we could just stop judging other people … and ourselves … and recognize that we are all ONE … we could create the better world we seek.

Heal the world
Make it a better place
For you and for me
And the entire human race

You have often asked me, “How did you do it? How did you not lash out against all those who persecuted you?” And this is the answer to your question.

I tried to always look past the appearance of illness to the perfection that lies within the thin veneer of all those sick children. I tried to remember that we do not all have to do things in the same way or subscribe to the same beliefs and that it is our differences that make us unique and valuable. I tried to remind myself that inside each and every one of us there lies that tiny spark of divinity that makes us all ONE people … one race … one world. And I treated everyone I met in the way I would want to be treated.

It is the golden rule; and it works.

 

 

 

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Installment 106

November 9 – November 15, 2016

Most Dearly Beloved,

I am afraid the world as we know it has come to an end.

Why? What has happened? This sounds serious.

It is serious. After a bitter, long campaign during which more mud has been slung than I can ever recall happening before, Donald Trump has been elected to the office of the President of the United States of America.

After unapologetically boasting rhetoric with blatant overtones of racism, bigotry, xenophobia, misogyny, environmental disrespect, division and hatred; after refusing to release his tax records for the past several years (which I thought was a requirement for any public office); after revelations of alleged sexual misconduct which were leveled against him; after all of our living former Presidents and the heads of several other countries warned us against the dangers should he be elected; and after bombastic and podium-pounding displays of anger and malice reminiscent of Adolph Hitler against several sovereign nations in our global community, the American voters have nonetheless seen fit to elect Donald Trump to the highest office in the land.

My understanding is that the popular vote was decided in Hillary Clinton’s favor, but as in several elections in the past decades, it is not the popular vote that counts. It is the Electoral College which elects the President. It seems like a total waste of time for us all to cast our votes at all. I never will understand the necessity of the Electoral College. Our votes are not fairly represented by them.

Quite frankly, I am gutted. Until the very last moment, I held out faith that my fellow country persons would have more common sense and intelligence, but my faith feels a bit trodden upon this morning.

And how does that feel to you? What does that look like for you?

It feels like the world as we know it has come to an end. It looks like Armageddon of the brain. I feel ashamed of my country … and of myself as a citizen of my country. For some strange reason, I feel guilty. I feel even more of a stranger in a strange land than I ever have before. And, quite honestly, I feel like giving up and moving to a small, deserted island where government is not an issue.

Unfortunately, there are no more small, deserted islands. Believe me, I’ve looked. We are ONE; we sink or swim together.

Yes, I understand. That’s the way I felt when I was touring with the Dangerous Tour in Moscow. It seemed like the whole world had changed overnight from a welcoming place to a forbidding place, gray and colorless, featureless and foreboding.

How does it feel?
How does it feel?
How does it feel?
When you’re alone
And you’re cold inside?
Like a Stranger in Moscow

But let me ask you something. Did the sun come up this morning? Did you wake up? Were you able to get up and move around?

Yes, it’s a beautiful, sunny day, unseasonably warm for this time of year, in fact. Yes, I woke up. Yes, I am able to get up and move around.

Excellent! Then you have found three things to be grateful for before you have even begun your day. There are many for whom those three things are not part of their experience.

In this moment, everything is fine. Stay here in this moment, with the sun shining in your windows and your body able to sit up, walk around and take nourishment.

What you are doing is allowing what may or may not happen in the future to ruin this moment. You are resisting what is and worrying about what will be. What purpose does that serve? Does it change what has happened?

No, not really.

He has won the election, but he has not actually assumed the office. It hasn’t happened yet, but you are dreading what is only a thought in this moment. It’s not real yet. Anything can happen between this moment and when he actually takes office. This is not the best example, but Saul became an entirely different person on his way to Damascus one day about 2,000 years ago. A funny thing happened on the way to the White House. [Michael chuckles.]

You can choose to wrap yourself in that gray and hopeless outlook and, believe me, I understand that the temptation to go down that road is very seductive. However, you can also choose to wrap the gratitude blanket around you, to be grateful for the sun rising, for waking up and for being able to get up and move around while you look for ways to move forward with faith.

But how should I feel? Is there anything I can do?

No one can tell you how you should feel. Only you control that. But, contrary to what most people understand, it is a choice. You can resist what is … or you can accept it, let go of your resistance, and move forward.

Accepting it is not the same as approving it; it is just an acknowledgment that it has happened. Resisting it doesn’t change it; it just causes you stress and discomfort.

As we have talked about so frequently, stress changes your inner environment to one of fear and contaminates each moment with the chemicals that fear and stress create in your inner ecosystem. Acceptance removes the stress and allows you a platform from which you can make clearer decisions. From that point, you get to choose what you create.

When I was in Moscow, I had come face-to-face with my worst fear.

Yes! That’s what this morning’s news feels like. I have come face-to-face with my worst fear. What did you do?

I did what it was given me to do. I made a decision to move forward despite my anger, disappointment and disillusionment. Giving up was not an option although it was a sore temptation.

I did what I had always done. I took those feelings and created a song through which I was able to form a connection with all of you. Later, I created a short film that very closely illustrated  those same feelings to make them a more visual and, therefore, visceral connection with all of you, so that you would know that I had, as you so often say, “been there, done that and had the t-shirt.”

It was what I had done all my life with my fear and anger and guilt; it was what I had been taught to do; it was what I had been given to do.

I was wandering in the rain
Mask of life, feeling insane
Swift and sudden fall from grace
Sunny days seem far away
Kremlin’s shadow belittling me
Stalin’s tomb won’t let me be

We are all members of the human family; we have all felt that utter hopelessness, that fear of the future, that despair over what has occurred. We are more alike than we are different. We can choose to perceive our sameness rather than our differences.

We can choose to connect with that feeling in others … to lift them up and provide them an outlet … a catharsis … through whatever means we have at our disposal …or we can choose to disconnect ourselves entirely from the human family and wallow in our fear and disappointment.

I was blest to have the music and to be able to share my feelings with all of you, to work it and mold it and shape it into the best that it could be. And, then, to send it out into the world to forge a link between us that could, with nurturance, be unbroken.

But not all of us have been given those blessings, my beautiful one.

That is true, but all of us have been given something with which we can share our pain and our joys. Some have music, others have visual art, others have dance and still others have financial resources. Whatever we have been given, we can share it freely to connect with others who may be feeling the same fears and disappointments.

In your specific case, you have been given the gift of these Conversations. You can talk with me about it and we can work out a way to move forward with faith together.

I know and I am so grateful for that, Michael. Thank you.

No … thank YOU!

In this way, we can let others know that they are not alone in their feelings. Shared anger is anger halved; shared disappointment loses much of its sting; shared disillusionment feels a little less hopeless.

Creation trumps reaction (pun intended) every time, in every situation and circumstance … no exceptions. Never doubt it. 

Every day create your history
Every path you take, you’re leaving your legacy

The word create infers an awareness … a consciousness … that you are the Creator of your inner environment, at least. That is where those feelings of utter fear and hopelessness live … in your inner environment.

You are not a victim of the winds that blow first one way and then the other. You may not be able to control what happens all around you, but you can create your response to it. Don’t allow the circumstances and situations you face create you. You create you! Consciously.

James Twyman, who has spearheaded a movement called the World Peace Pulse and who is doing monthly on-line meditations from trouble spots around the world sent out an email to subscribers on the morning after the elections. The subject line of his email read: Why am I so happy about the US presidential election?

In his email he states that this is not the outcome he was hoping for, but he says “that’s not the point.” He confirms that our happiness does not depend on outside occurrences measuring up to our expectations. It’s not about what happens out there; it’s about what happens within our own hearts. He also states that he spent the morning after the election results were broadcast praying for Donald Trump instead of cursing him. He goes on to explain:

“I asked thousands of people to pray for the “highest good” to be done in this election. Part of that involves me letting go of what I think needs to happen and trusting what actually is happening. It’s impossible for me to know what humanity needs to evolve into love, but I am willing to play my role no matter what. That’s the key – to commit to love regardless of the direction we seem to be heading.”

Yes! Exactly

And I think it’s important to realize that nothing is ever as bad as it may seem. We tend to magnify the negative aspects of people and situations because we worry so much about them, which just makes them grow in our imaginations to the point where they become monsters, eating up all the positive aspects of our lives.

In the past few months, you have made Donald Trump into the devil incarnate in your mind. You have railed against his platform, his speeches, his appearance, and everything else about him.

He is not the devil incarnate; he’s just a man who makes mistakes just like everyone else. He just does it BIG.

When I knew Donald Trump, he was one of the very few people who supported me during a very dark period of my life. He was very kind to both myself and Lisa Marie, even allowing us to stay at Trump Towers and providing us some privacy during a time when many of my friends couldn’t be reached and were distancing themselves from me in the fear that the infamy of the allegations would rub off and sully their careers. He stood by me. So, he has good qualities like loyalty and friendship.

There are no wholly negative people; we all have the capacity for good, noble actions and decisions; we all have tendencies that are selfish and lacking in compassion.

Our mission is to see and encourage the good and noble aspects of each other and to overlook the mistakes and judgments that are lacking in sensitivity or wisdom as just that … mistakes and errors in judgment. Errors can be corrected with patience and compassion.

As you discovered in our Neverland therapy sessions, when we understand some of the societal and cultural pressures those who have hurt us were laboring under, it is much easier to see their actions as errors and to view them with compassion and forgiveness. The same is true here.

We’ve all made mistakes; none of us is perfect. We’ve all spoken ill-considered words, been the author of ill-considered actions. That’s just human nature.

In addition, we, aided and abetted by our media whose allegiance to profit and sensationalism is unquestioned, see things and judge them from the perspectives they offer us (which, as we have seen in the past are seldom without prejudice), never questioning what they present to us as fact.

It is neither unheard of nor unusual for media reports to magnify the smallest thing into a fear that becomes unmanageable, is it? It is neither unheard of nor unusual for media reports to take words out of context or bend them to suit their own agendas. It is neither unheard of nor unusual for editors to alter photographs or film clips to more closely align with their biases. And it is neither unheard of nor unusual for media editors to fabricate lies and print them as truth. We have definitely seen all of these in my physical life and I have no doubt that some of that has been practiced in this Presidential campaign.

I am certain that media reports have played up many of the negative aspects of all of the candidates in this election campaign; they always do.

Here abandoned in my fame
Armageddon of the brain
KGB was doggin’ me
Take my name but just let me be
Then a beggar boy called my name
Happy days will drown the pain

So, it’s important to realize that we don’t have all the facts. As a matter of fact, we probably know very little of the truth.

how-does-it-feel

Okay, Baby, I grant you that. So, what are my options?

Well, I think that the most important thing is to realize that here, in this moment, everything is fine. The future hasn’t happened, yet. Don’t trade this moment for the fear and anxiety of what may or may not occur in the future. The present moment is too precious; it is where we live.

Then, I think that resisting what is just generates more of what is. Viewing the situation without resistance allows us a clearer view of the circumstance that is causing our distress. It relieves our own anxiety and tension, releasing healing chemicals into our ecosystem instead of harmful ones.

Please understand, I understand your hurt and disappointment. I was not very good at releasing my resistance to the circumstances I faced. I resisted with a vengeance and caused myself immeasurable harm in the process which manifested in many of the physical problems that plagued my life, like my admitted addiction to pain medication and the sleep deprivation which always played a major role in my physical well- being. That’s why I’m here to discuss this with you and keep you from making the same mistake. Resistance helps nothing; it just makes everything seem bigger, scarier and the hurt more intense.

You started this dialog with the statement that and I quote: “I’m afraid that the world as we know it has come to an end.” We have talked in great detail in several of these dialogs about the world “as we know it” and its many failings and injustices. Perhaps, the world as we know it needs to come to an end to make way for the world as we must create it if we are to save the planet from total extinction.

I know that seems like a harsh thing to say, but in the example we used before from our earlier dialogs, the trial of Conrad Murray, we needed to sweep away all the negative emotions and deceit in the physical space of the courthouse to make room for the Spirit of Truth to enter. Those visualizations of sweeping out the courthouse were a metaphor to help you visualize what we were doing; by cleaning out the courthouse we were really helping you to clean out the fear and anxiety you had built up over the trial; but the same concept applies here. Perhaps, the new President-elect is the broom we need to clean up the dormant racist and anti-feminist feelings that apparently remain in the hearts of many of our citizens.

We have been warned by our greatest scientific minds that we are headed for disaster on a magnitude that we have never seen before. That means we need to be shaken out of our complacency and wake up to what is happening in the world in order to evolve.

We have seen that we do not live in an ideal world … or in an ideal country. Many of our high-sounding ideals have been seriously compromised in favor of economic predominance, military might and expediency. Many of our citizens are homeless; many have no health care; many are victims of human rights violations and police brutality.

Like a volcano, we are sitting on a powder keg that we have crusted over with our unwillingness to look at our guilty little secrets and heal them. The pressure is building and the toxic gases need to rise to the surface. Much that we have refused to face has to bubble to the surface to be released and healed. It will, undoubtedly, be uncomfortable.

I think it’s also important to note that the man has not been elected dictator; he has been elected President of a country which is governed by three separate branches and a system of checks and balances which are meant to protect its citizens from tyranny. In other words, the President does not rule alone; his power is actually somewhat limited. He is a cog in a very large machine full of well-meaning, intelligent people  – a very visible and vocal cog, but a cog, nonetheless.

And I think that the methods we have used in the past to relieve some of our anxiety over what may happen in the future have particular applicability here.

When we began visualizing for the trial of Conrad Murray, you were facing a very similar situation. You had built him up to be the devil incarnate as you had Tom Sneddon, if you recall. We replaced all of our negative fears and anxieties with our faith that the truth would be revealed. The results were spectacular, not only in the observable outcome of the trial but, even more importantly, in the way you viewed things; your perspective changed. Your visualizations calmed your fears, relieved your stresses and anxiety and allowed you a broader view.

In many cases, people are ennobled by the office they hold. They realize that their role is a responsible one and they rise to the occasion, so to speak. We can support that kind of ennoblement in this situation with patience and compassion by visualizations that activate the President-elect’s sensitivity and empower his compassion.

I love water balloon fights and always have. Instead of water balloons, we can have LOVE balloons … COMPASSION balloons … TOLERANCE balloons and drop Love Bombs on the White House and Capitol Building. This sounds like a lot more fun than sitting around and worrying about what may or may not happen!

Yes, it does because the last few days have not been fun at all. There has been this heavy feeling of dread which has been very difficult to lift.

Your words have reminded me of the article I quoted before in these Conversation [Reference: Installment 103, June 2016], written by Danielle Agnew entitled Why Donald Trump Is The Best Thing to Ever Happen to the USA, dated March 15, 2016.

Ms. Agnew proposed in her blog post that Mr. Trump would end up unifying (although probably unconsciously) this country as no one else could by bringing all the issues that the United States doesn’t like to talk about … all those nasty little secrets like our clandestine racism and bigotry, homophobia and police brutality that we sweep under the carpet so that we don’t have to face them … out into the open, making us as a country take a good look at ourselves in the mirror and decide if we like what we see.

We like to think of ourselves as so progressive, forward-thinking and tolerant, but we are still beating our African-American brothers, broadcasting video of the brutality on national television and acquitting the police officers who perpetrated it. We are still shooting young, unarmed black men for no reason other than their skin color. And we still fear a black man who gets more powerful than we are comfortable with.

Yes, that is true. The United States is a great country, but it is not perfect. It doesn’t want to look at itself realistically. It prefers the whitewashed version.  That version says: there’s nothing wrong; there’s no need to fix what isn’t broke. Just cover it up, ignore it and it will go away. Unfortunately, it’s not going away.

While many African-Americans are upwardly mobile, responsible taxpayers, according to prevailing racist attitudes all black people live in ghettos, as Mr. Trump stated in his campaign speeches. He also recommended that the 19th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States (women’s suffrage) be repealed because most of his supporters were men.

Yes, we are making progress, but there are huge enclaves that cling to old racist and chauvinistic attitudes.

Ms. Agnew posits that Donald Trump has forged a link with those factions bent on holding on to those antiquated ideas and will end up uniting a country that is currently far from united.  She states that his popularity stems not so much from his willingness to broadcast his opinions at the top of his lungs, but to broadcast theirs – the ones they have not admitted having because of their fear of rejection by loved ones and their own prickling consciences.

“I’m behind Donald because he speaks his mind,” say millions of followers, crunching on their chips and watching ringside as the circus continues.

“Yet it’s not the fact that Donald Trump is speaking his mind in an outside-the-box way that inspires the deep dedication and screeching discipleship from coast to coast … The fact remains that Donald Trump receives the unfaltering dedication and hero worship from his followers not because he speaks his mind — but the fact that Donald Trump is indeed, speaking their mind.

“Trump gives a name, a face, a resume and a strangely-fitting suit to the ugly stepchild of American Consciousness: Bigotry, fear of change — and the hatred that is born from resentfully stewing these ingredients in repressed silence.

“Finally, the Movement of Secret Seething Resentment has a leader.”

And I do think that Ms. Agnew has a point. There is a huge segment of America that doesn’t adjust well to change, wants to remain insulated against the rest of the world, wants to keep America for Americans (preferably white Americans), and resents anyone who doesn’t agree with those ideals. We are not united and it’s long past time for us to admit our failings, discuss our skeletons in the closet and commit to changing our standing in the world.

“Well, in order for the United States to remain united in this fragile world climate, it’s time we kick our secrets to the curb. It’s time we find out what we really have under our hood, America — who we really are — and stop hiding who we wish we had the courage to be, in the shadows.

“Until we come to grips with some serious tears in the seams of our national fabric — no switching of Presidents and Congress will heal the gridlock and the rip in consciousness of the Corporatocracy that though horrifying — now defines our country.”

She proposes that Donald Trump is going to turn out to be the point at which the rubber meets the road. After all, we can’t fix what we don’t acknowledge. And there are precious few ways to ignore Donald Trump.

In other words, if we want to play with the big boys, we are going to have to stop kidding ourselves and face up to who and what we have become.  It may not be fun and it probably will not be pretty.

The fact that we used to be the big boys notwithstanding, we have lost our grip on that status through turning away from the ideals for which our country was founded. Human rights have fallen to corporate rights and the almighty dollar.

“Donald Trump is fearless in his commitment to his opinions, and moreover — to himself. He embodies Capitalism, sensationalism, unapologetic stereotypical male sexuality all with the swagger of a movie-star-meets-professional-wrestler.

“He has chosen to present himself as a finely-sketched, perfectly sculpted caricature of American ego, idiocy and ignorance.”

Unfortunately, I’m afraid that this is, indeed, how much of the world views America – as a bully in the global playground, as hypocritical in upholding human rights, pointing the finger at violations in other countries while at the same time sweeping our own violations under the rug. It’s our way or the highway. Before we can change it, we have to acknowledge it.

We have no one to blame but ourselves for Donald Trump.

It’s not a question of blame; blaming ourselves is just another way of resisting acknowledging that we are all brothers and sisters in a large human family. It’s a question of learning to accept our brothers and sisters in our own country with all their diverse opinions, ethnic and gender differences and learning how to get along. That does not mean we have to agree with them; we don’t have to convert them to our way of thinking nor do we have to accept being converted to theirs; we just agree to disagree. Then, perhaps, we will have evolved enough to accept all our human brothers and sisters in our extended global family without judging them,

Donald Trump is a human being and he, too, is a member of our human family who deserves our prayerful and mindful support as he prepares to assume a very responsible position in the world. Instead of judging and fearing him, let’s admit that he is all too human and invite him out to play in the LOVE balloon fort.

I’ll prepare the balloons! We got this!

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The Dangerous Diaries

The Dangerous Diaries –

October 7 through October 21, 2016

When I first became enamored with Michael Jackson (my muse), one of the remarkable facts that I discovered was that for an artist of his caliber, popularity, unprecedented achievements and fame, there was very little reliable, factual information to be found, regardless of where one looked, that dealt with his life, his art or his humanitarian efforts. His was the most recognized face and silhouette in the world, while at the same time being the least known of men. While seemingly contradictory, both statements are true.

I love Michelangelo. If I had the chance to talk to him or read about him, I would want to know what inspired him to become who he is, the anatomy of his craftsmanship … not about who he went out with last night or why he decided to sit out in the sun so long. That’s what’s important to me.

Michael Jackson, Ninety Prime Time Minutes with the King of Pop, 1993

While reams and reams of words circulated endlessly about his eccentricities, endless speculations abounded about the number and extent of his plastic surgeries. His appearance was covered from every possible angle ever cooked up and diagnosed by the ever-popular “expert testimony” of plastic surgeons who had never met the man; his ever-lightening complexion was the talk of every yellow journalist of note and his allegedly strange lifestyle had become fodder for late night comedian monologues. But to really learn anything valuable or instructive about the man, his music, his uncanny ability to use his body to communicate his artistic vision in film and performance, one was entirely lost in a maze of speculation, innuendo and character assassination.

Michael Jackson in 1991 and 1992, was the media’s favorite scapegoat for many of the world’s ills while, at the same time, he was one of the most popular figures in recent history. Any public appearance was attended by throngs of admirers, his recordings sold in unbelievable numbers not just in his homeland but on a global basis and rumors of his attendance at Presidential Inaugural Galas peaked more public interest than the newly-elected President, himself. Television ratings soared into the stratosphere when he was scheduled to appear at award shows, personal interviews or Super Bowl Halftime extravaganzas. But much more was made of his personal life in the press of the time, and in the most sensational way possible, while little to no attention was paid to his ART … to the manner in which he bared his soul to his public through his music, passionate performances and state-of-the-art short films. Few music or film critics were covering his musical releases with anything that resembled objectivity; it was far easier to dismiss his contributions than it was to buck the system and actually produce intelligent, meticulously-vetted or researched prose related to his body of work. Investigative research and verification were almost unheard of in the coverage of Michael Jackson.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, I was not alone in my confusion over these discrepancies. The Dangerous Diaries is my attempt to examine some of the reliable, serious, academic work that has been published since my muse’s transition seven years ago (88 months to be precise.)  Since his untimely death in 2009, there has been a delayed knee-jerk reaction … an avalanche of renewed interest in what Michael Jackson was trying to tell us in that music and those performances. This trend is long overdue, but better late than never. Armond White may be the only voice raised with the statement: “Wait a minute! Take another look!” God bless him for it. That took courage, particularly being printed contemporaneously to the release of the albums Dangerous, HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book 1, Blood on the Dancefloor: HIStory in the Mix and Invincible.

I have just finished my first reading of a newly-published book entitled The Dangerous Philosophies of Michael Jackson (in eBook format since my print copy of the book has not yet been delivered from Amazon.com despite my having pre-ordered it over a week prior to its release date of September 30, 2016) by Elizabeth Amisu, a lecturer at Kings College London. Past experience has taught me that I need to read these books at least twice, if not many, many more times, to fully extract all the richness they offer. However, my first reading has inspired a curiosity to study Michael Jackson’s later musical contributions from the numerous angles represented by my growing library of serious, reliable Michael Jackson Academic Studies.

I will be proud to add her print version when received to my growing collection of serious academic materials which deal fairly with Michael Jackson’s contributions to our cultural heritage. That collection currently includes:

Joe Vogel’s

Earth Song: Inside Michael Jackson’s Magnum Opus,
Man in the Music: The Creative Life and Work of Michael Jackson and
Featuring Michael Jackson,

Dr. Willa Stillwater’s M Poetica: Michael Jackson’s Art of Connection and Defiance,

Susan Fast’s Dangerous,

Isabelle Petitjean’s  Dangerous: From Mark Ryden to Michael Jackson: Pop Culture in the Pantheon of Fine Arts (at this writing unpublished),

Armond White’s Keep Moving: The Michael Jackson Chronicles, 

as well as my muse’s own works: Moonwalk, Dancing the Dream: Poems and Reflections, and HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book 1(which Elizabeth Amisu has included as one of her primary sources in The Dangerous Philosophies of Michael Jackson, page 34 calling it “a musical autobiography, which gives his account of the events that transpired between 1989 and 1995.”)

Let me state unequivocally for my readers: I AM NOT A SCHOLAR. However, as many know, I am a rabid, voracious reader. Having no academic credentials, I have never done anything like this before, and, therefore, I am not exactly sure how I should begin this self-directed study – how it should be structured or formatted. Perhaps, the best way to begin would be to discuss Elizabeth Amisu’s inclusion of HIStory: Past, Present, and Future, Book 1 in her listing of primary sources and what an unusual, and possibly controversial, decision that is.

HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book 1(released 1995)

Ms. Amisu lists HIStory as Michael Jackson’s most autobiographical work, addressing much of the public vilification to which he had been subjected in the wake of the media backlash which had followed the Thriller and BAD releases as well as his public stoning at the hands of a seethingly vengeful and persecutory District Attorney in Santa Barbara County reminiscent of “running that [insert derogatory here] out of his county” which resulted in Michael Jackson being unjustly pilloried for criminal trespass against a child not once but twice (in 1993 and 2003) and in Jackson’s self-imposed exile from his fabulous home, Neverland Valley Ranch. In both cases, the resulting media frenzy to convict in the court of public opinion resulted in what Charles Thomson called The Most Shameful Episode in Journalistic History in an article of the same name in the on-line journal The Huffington Post.

The first set of allegations in 1993 hit very early in my ongoing love affair with Michael Jackson (ten months to be exact) and was largely responsible for my learning how to use a computer to aide me in writing my first book, taking to the internet as well as my one-woman-letter-writing-campaign, voicing my consternation over the thirteen months of rampantly vitriolic “schoolyard” bullying tactics Jackson endured during the almost daily media onslaught against his artistic output, his person, his appearance, his ethnicity, his facial characteristics, his sexuality, and every other facet of his life that could be squeezed into a four inch headline and cover story and made available to all on a global basis at every grocery checkout stand in the United States of America and around the world. Of course, news of his lifelong contributions to 39 charities, which resulted in him being listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most charitable celebrity was conspicuously absent from all reports.

In the track listing for the HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book 1, Ms. Amisu sees Michael Jackson’s response to the unrelenting and increasingly pervasive critical commentary that had accompanied his every move for roughly a dozen years (by that time) and as largely contributing to the “reductionist” framework from which each release after Thriller suffered (and continues to suffer) a monumentally dismissive overall reading in nearly all music critique forums.

Yet, from the primal scream of “Scream” to the determination of “Smile,” Jackson shows that he is still very much a force to be reckoned with, that he refuses to “go quietly” into the oblivion being foisted upon him by his detractors. His voice still hits highs and lows full on with no hesitation, still emotes all over the grooves, its purity, versatility, strength and virtuosity undeniable, and his “staying power” still laudable. He is “standing though you’re kicking me” on this record, exhibiting an endurance and sense of purpose that was little understood at the time, but is becoming a bit more recognized in the field of posthumous Michael Jackson Academic Studies.

Ms. Amisu’s use of an audio production and the short films that accompanied it as primary source material, equal in every way to his autobiography, Moonwalk, and his second print publication, Dancing the Dream: Poems and Reflections, is a bold departure from traditional biographical reference material, but eminently appropriate, … one which I applaud.

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Dangerous 11 X 14 colored pencil painting

Coming of Age

In the first paragraph, first sentence of her marvelous analyses of Dangerous, Susan Fast refers to it as Michael Jackson’s “coming of age album.” While I see her point to a certain extent, I disagree. I feel that the promise of the little boy in the fringed vest and pink hat that we all saw on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1970 was fully and spectacularly realized in his first three adult solo albums, Off the Wall, Thriller, and BAD. That little boy no longer had anything to prove to the world or to himself, He had matured into a staggeringly talented and beautiful young man whose sexually-charged music and dance had catapulted him into a level of fame seldom witnessed on this planet.

As Quincy Jones once stated in an interview, recorded sometime around the recording session for We Are The World (1985?) and referring to the filming of the feature film The Wiz (1979), “He isn’t baby dumpling, anymore.” The child prodigy had matured into a virtuoso, whose vocal versatility was undeniable, whose physical appearance had been sharpened by his strict adherence to a vegetarian lifestyle, and whose ability to effectively and believably emote through a variety of genres was unquestioned. In addition, his composing skills had kept pace with his performance skills, proven by penning nine of the eleven tracks on the BAD album. His confidence in his innate, God-given abilities had reached far beyond the “natural gifts” stage through constant practice and coaching; he commonly fasted on Sundays and danced until his legs wouldn’t or couldn’t hold him up any longer. His dedication to his art throughout his early adulthood is clear in the grooves of Off the Wall, Thriller, and BAD.

Dangerous did, admittedly, mark a departure in his music and in his presentation, however. In the Dangerous album, I believe Michael Jackson, in essence, threw down a gauntlet to the rest of us. He achieved a level of consciousness that showed more self-awareness and world engagement than had previously been a prevalent feature of his artistry. He asks us point blank to look at the world we inhabit and explain to him “Why You Wanna Trip on Me?”

He challenges us; he provokes us; he dares us. He makes us gasp in surprise, bristle in consternation, and cry out in empathy. He makes us think; he makes us dance; he makes us sing along; but under it all there is a new tone of social and spiritual consciousness that takes no prisoners. He makes us uncomfortable in our apathy (but not as uncomfortable as he will make us before he’s finished with us), encourages us to find and engage with our passions and share those passions with our neighbors in a way he never had before. He recognizes that his American Dream has betrayed him, as has the media and almost everyone else around him … yet he dares to continue to dream it, moving forward no-holds-barred, unabashedly and at full throttle. He pleads for our understanding, but whether we understand him or not, he isn’t going anywhere.

“No longer does Jackson encourage his listeners to ‘make a change;’ he becomes the change, maturing into a voice crying out in a literal wilderness in the short film for “Earth Song” five years later.” (The Dangerous Philosophies of Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Amisu, p. 56 of Nook edition.)

Fear of Women

Almost all of the authors I have read so far have failed, in my opinion, to delve deeply enough into what are fast becoming known as Michael Jackson’s “femmes fatale” songs, which include “Billie Jean,” “Dirty Diana,” “Dangerous,” and “Blood on the Dancefloor.” Noting that he returns to the subject matter of the dangerous, manipulative woman who is willing to lie about the paternity of her child, make herself available for sexual favors, and even kill to entrap the narrator of the story into her “web of sin,” almost all of them stop short of what I feel Michael was aiming towards.

Dr. Willa Stillwater, in M Poetica: Michael Jackson’s Art of Connection and Defiance, does note that Michael struggles over the ethical response to the situation in which the narrator of the story finds himself embroiled through no fault of his own. Hers is a psychological reading. He recognizes and acknowledges some of the motivations that may be propelling Billie Jean forward in her determination to secure financial or societal support for her out-of-wedlock conception. Similarly, he recognizes some of the reasons he is pursued by Diana as reflected glory and a “life that’s so carefree” as well as his ability to make her a star.  Yet through both songs, he still asks, “Why would a woman disrespect herself to that extent?”

I think much of the response to his overarching question lies in the patriarchal culture that may not have begun with Paul’s Epistles to his followers, but was certainly given religious sanction by this man, who knew the historical Jesus not at all and, therefore, could not be presumed to be speaking for him, which resulted in millions of free-thinking women being burned at the stake, hung, and drowned as witches during the church’s reign of terror known as The Inquisition in the Middle Ages. The latest incarnation of this patriarchal view of reality is one of our Presidential candidates spouting rhetoric in support of repealing the 19th Amendment to the Constitution of the United State of America (women’s suffrage) because most of his supporters are men. Yes, indeed, this happened during the week of October 10, 2016! If that’s not a warning of what is to come should this man be elected, I don’t know what is.

However, the accepted, repeated ad nauseum, tired narrative of Michael Jackson’s “fear of women” still seeps through in most overall sympathetic analyses and I think that this reading probably stands on the surface, but requires further examination from a more in depth, mindful perspective because of its over-simplicity. While his music may seem simple, almost all of his collaborators have spoken about the hard work they all went through to achieve that appearance. Michael Jackson did not fear women; he revered them and his reverence is clearly evidenced in the way he treated them … with respect.

There are many levels on which Michael Jackson’s body of work can be understood; there is the surface layer and infinite further layers to explore when one has decoded the musical, sonic, technical and lyrical levels, which Susan Fast admits in Dangerous with the words: “Jackson’s femmes fatales songs all have different narratives and are worthy of a good and thorough study, which is more than I can do here.”

In my opinion these songs are parables – philosophical tales that use common, everyday words, situations and people to illustrate a moral point. They are about seduction – the attraction that forbidden or socially unacceptable situations and people hold for us. While they can be interpreted as sexual seduction, and from that perspective there is much that is cautionary in these songs, there is also a bigger picture here.

So, let’s take a very brief look at the four songs listed and see if we can find some common factor they all share.

“Billie Jean” talks about a woman who claims that the narrator has fathered her child and the moral dilemma this puts the narrator in. Viewed from both protagonist and antagonist perspectives (a phenomenal feat all by itself), the lyrics acknowledge that the narrator “has dreamed of being the one,” … “but the kid is not his son.” In other words, he acknowledges the seductive power represented by the woman, but he has not succumbed to it; “Billie Jean is not my lover.” He has not capitulated.

“Dirty Diana” is the story of a woman “who waits backstage for those who have prestige.” In other words, for the performance to be over. “Every musician’s fan,” she is ready to give herself to the “boys in the band” for any number of what could be considered by our current societal benchmarks as good reasons, including “a life that’s so carefree” and “I’ll be your everything if you make me a star.” While the narrator of the story is attracted strongly to her, he has a “baby” at home to whom he is trying to remain faithful; the seductive power in his attraction is prominent, but it is Diana who tells his “baby” that he is “sleeping with her.” He’s still on the fence until that moment and we are not told how the struggle is resolved.

In “Dangerous,” the narrator of the story is strongly attracted to a dangerous woman just because she is dangerous. This is seduction at its most basic level. He can’t trust her and he knows it; he speaks the words of the lead in to the song in a hypnotic, seductive, sexy voice:  “her lips are as sweet as a honeycomb, but her spirit is as sharp as a two-edged sword.” All relationships are based on trust from friendships to romantic relationships and everything in between. So, this relationship is strictly taboo, but he is strongly attracted to it, seduced by it. Once again, we are not privy to the resolution of his dilemma.

In “Blood on the Dancefloor,” the narrator tells the story of a “one night stand” and its results. “It’s not about love and romance” and “every hot man’s out takin’ a chance and now you do regret it.” Susie is a retaliatory presence in “Blood on the Dancefloor;” perhaps she just wants vengeance for being used as an object to satisfy the narrator’s desire, perhaps she has become more possessive than the narrator is comfortable with, wanting to hold on to the narrator. Whatever the situation is, the story turns ugly and she wields a knife, ending up with “blood on the dancefloor.”  “Seven inches in” could refer to a dagger or to a certain part of a man’s anatomy!

Now, call me a crazy, lapsed Roman Catholic girl who was well and truly indoctrinated into the Catholic perception of sexuality during her more than twelve years of good Catholic education, but I see every one of these songs as cautionary tales whose morals deal with the prevalent and all-pervasive promiscuity of the early 21st Century, anything-goes morality. From the relative innocence of “Billie Jean” and “Dirty Diana,” the caution progresses through “Dangerous” and ends up with “Blood on the Dancefloor.”

Michael Jackson’s upbringing in the Jehovah Witness faith, particularly on the discussion of irresponsible sexual encounters, would have been even less permissive than my own at the hands of the nuns who taught me albeit not terribly different from mine and his reverence of his mother, who was extremely devout, is a well-known and documented fact. One can imagine young Michael being taught the benefits of abstinence (a word not commonly used in our society) at his mother’s knee, especially with her knowledge of her husband’s and older sons’ very obvious rejection of the concept.

It’s not a fear of women, nor is it a fear of sex Michael Jackson points to with these songs; it is a warning about the seduction and inherent dangers of the promiscuity that has developed in our culture over the past approximately 50 years! He is crying out that our moral compass has become askew. It is the moral epidemic our society suffers from which has resulted in increased teenage pregnancy, overcrowding prisons, increased social service requirements and homelessness. It is our lack of respect for ourselves and the planet that have resulted in global warming, burning “forests despite our pleas” and the imminent disaster that may make the human family extinct not long after our tenure here is over. I know that this, too, is an over-simplification, but I believe the tentacles do reach further than most of us think and I think Michael Jackson was alerting us to that fact in these songs..

Our cavalier attitude toward sexual union has become the prevailing meme to the point at which a “gentleman” is castigated on public television for not revealing every detail of his sexual encounters and his virginity, or lack thereof. [See the Oprah Winfred interview entitled Ninety Prime Time Minutes With The King of Pop, 1993] As a result of the prevalence of that meme, such a man is considered almost universally as “unnatural” and public outcry against this particular brand of “unnaturalness” is given worldwide press. Gentlemen have become an endangered species in our technologically-advanced society. What has happened to the concept of “common decency?” I have asked this question before, but have not yet received a viable response.

On yet another level, all of these songs are about seduction. There are myriads of things, situations and people that are seductive in our culture. Enticements abound. We can be seduced by sex (which is the application by which the word is most often understood), by drugs, by videogames, by drama, by alcohol, by sensationalism, by cigarettes, by acquisition, by power, by upward mobility, by money, by fame, by following every move made by our favorite celebrities, by habit, by propaganda, by media, by fear, by adrenalin rushes. The list is endless.

Seduction infers that there are possible negative effects to these attractions, which overwhelm us, keeping us docile and mindless and preventing us from thinking deeply about the situations in our world that scream for our ingenuity in the hopes of satisfying our attractions. Like the drug addict, we can’t help ourselves; we are seduced.

Now, I am admittedly in thrall, having been totally seduced by Michael Jackson almost twenty-five years ago. I haven’t yet found the negative effect in that seduction, if there is one. When I do, I will inform my readers as quickly and efficiently as possible. At present, I have only gained by this seduction and am entirely grateful for it.

We are seduced by the world that surrounds us or our perceptions of it. Our senses tell us that the physical, material, scientifically-provable world is the only reality; sight, sound, touch, smell and taste are the arbiters of our lives based in the logical, the provable, the measurable, the weighable. Yet, we are also endowed with other senses: intuition, imagination, intention, inspiration, and creativity. These more spiritually attuned senses we are taught to ignore as we are seduced away from our childhood certainty in the truth of fairy tales by our teenage years. These more spiritually-attuned senses can only be developed through introspection and self-reflection, which are the artist’s purview and to which Dancing the Dream: Poems and Reflections by Michael Jackson provides more than sufficient testimony that he was no stranger.

As the penultimate artist in several genres (including musical composition, innovative film production, massive public spectacle and all the smaller fields that combined to create them), Michael Jackson sings to us about seduction – the seduction of the senses. He warns us that these are magnetic attractions with powers over us we find difficult to resist because of the prevalent view of the physical world as the only reality. Yes, he couches these warnings in the form of woman, but it is the hypnotic effect of seduction he sings about in each of these songs.

Yet, within each one of us beats a heart that knows that this cannot be all there is, that this world of greed and consumerism, of power plays and braggadocio, of political upheaval and war and of orphaned and starving children is not the only reality. We search for something to “fill that place in our hearts” that we all know is love and compassion in the many seductions offered to us for our pacification as a baby seeks its mother’s breast.

Michael Jackson demonstrated that place in his heart in every way humanly possible – in visiting sick and dying children, in contributing huge sums of money to alleviate suffering on a massive scale, in offering a place of refuge and safety to children from inner city schools, in airlifting medical supplies and toys into war torn regions, in gathering resources to cut the number of people starving in the world in half (literally), and in musical compositions to accompany his actions – and he is not shy about asking us to help him in his cause.

In his pleas, he is joined by all of our spiritual scriptures from Hindu to Buddhist – Muslim to Christian, which promote love and compassion and tell us that we can be inhabitants of both the world of physical, provable reality and eternal, spiritual reality at the same time. He demonstrated that fact … and at the very highest level imaginable … with every breath he breathed on this planet and continues to do so throughout the ensuing years.  He navigated both realities with grace, humor, ingenuity and dignity, holding to principles long antiquated against nearly insurmountable odds despite unprecedented fame, wealth, and adversity. In doing so, he showed us that we can do it, too!

These are the kinds of thoughts I want to explore further in this admittedly inept self-directed curriculum, The Dangerous Diaries. The research by objective, credentialed academics in the fields of musicology, film and music criticism, and cultural commentary now exists. And it is long overdue. It is thought-provoking and it is important. It reverberates with echoes of a higher calling that we can all put into practice to discover and create lives as resonant, if not as globally acclaimed, as Michael Jackson’s. God bless him! And God bless the scholars and authors who are revisiting his body of work from a variety of perspectives to enrich us and inform us of Michael Jackson’s continuing relevance.

While I am no scholar, I want to immerse myself in it, provide my own commentary and thoughts, and follow the trail of breadcrumbs left by my muse into the heart of his artistry and person. To a limited extent, I have already done this in “Troubadour of a Generation,” an online 13-week course offered by a wonderful friend which closely followed the targeted discussion topics of a syllabus designed for a class in African-American Studies at Duke University. [Please refer to Conversations, Installment 98 for further discussion of this course.] I must, once again, thank my wonderful friend for making the topics discussed available to me. It was an eye-opening experience and one that I will always cherish. However, there is so much more depth to study in Michael Jackson’s art that the course left me feeling rewarded but that it had barely scratched the surface.

So, with the materials previously listed, I am going to design my own course with the attitude that we shall see what develops.

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