Maybe “This Is It”

I watched “This Is It” the other day, the movie about Michael Jackson rehearsing for his planned final set of concerts in the UK. I had been putting it off for a while for a few reasons, the main one being that I still find his death really sad, especially how he spent a good chunk of his final years more or less in seclusion (which in all honesty was one of the more sane things he did considering all of the problems he had).  To have that kind of talent and just be sitting on it (as far as we know…because with his posthumous record deal, it sounds like he was doing more recording than we anticipated) is a terrible thing.  There was so much more we could have enjoyed.

Watching the film, one has to be amazed at how a guy who was almost 50 could still move like that.  Sure, he wasn’t snapping off moves like it was 1983, but it was still pretty damn impressive.  There is a bit where some of the dancers are rehearsing and MJ walks up and shows them the moves they are supposed to be doing.  It’s a great clip, not so much because of the moves MJ does, but the fact that he walks up really casually, chewing gum and just starts popping these moves as effortlessly as ever.  The dancers kick in and start doing what MJ is doing, but their moves don’t look as fluent as MJ’s.  You can sum part of that up to the fact that MJ knows the moves (they’re his), but when you see him doing it like it is nothing, you confirm everything that you already know; that this is what he was born to do.

As I watched more of the film, I could see how much the showmanship, the performance meant to MJ.  He loved the songs and loved performing with other talented artists, but what stood out was how much he enjoyed being the top dog and how easily it came to him.  I started to wonder if everybody is born to do something specific and most of us just haven’t realized it yet or if the vast majority of us don’t have close to the kind of talent MJ did.  I would like to think that for a variety of reasons,  a lot of people should be as famous as MJ for the talent they have, but just didn’t have some breaks go their way at some point.  In order to make it big, sometimes you just need that one thing to happen…that one person to see you or hear you or try something you have developed.  Sometimes it’s just luck.

But really, can you think of something that you are exceptional at?  Something that just comes naturally where you can walk up and do it and other people are stumbling over themselves trying to imitate you?  I can’t.  Sure, there are some things that I consider myself quite good at, but exceptional?  Absolutely not.   I don’t know if this is because I have some sort of untapped talent that hasn’t been realized yet or if it is because, yes, maybe this is it.  Maybe this is all I have to offer the world.  Maybe this is all the world needs from me.  Who the hell knows?  I’m pretty certain that at 33, if I had some sort of awe-inspiring talent bubbling under the surface, it would have made itself known by now, so I guess what you see is what you get.  This isn’t at all to say that I am comparing myself to MJ, because that would certify that I was amazing at being an absolute lunatic, but sometimes you have to wonder what makes you different from everybody else.  What is it that you are naturally good at?

And on that, I’m going to have a nightcap, listen to some Badly Drawn Boy (for some reason “Disillusion” has been in my head all day) and then possibly go to sleep.  I hope you find that this isn’t it for you.


  1. avatar Wendy Says:

    I believe there are some who are simply geniuses, and he was one of them. But with great genius also tends to come madness and great tragedy. For Michael, it can be said that his tragedy came into existance the moment his father realized his son’s talent. And it created his madness, which was him trying to have the childhood he lost.

    The thing that saddens me most about his death is that people continued to persecute him. He was still a joke to so many who could only see him as a pervert. I’m certain though that what we saw as perversion, was simply him being a child. Which leads to the question: who really is the pervert?

    Anyway, regarding talent, I think some of us are born with great talents and, if given the right opportunities, are able to let them shine. I think there are some who are lost because they don’t get those chances. But, having children now and watching them as they learn, my great concern is that talent – great or mediocre – simply isn’t being given a chance because we are underestimating what are children are capable of. Even simple things like putting recommended ages on toys troubles me now, because, while a child might not completely understand the concept if they are younger than the recommended age, they can still get a basic idea that they store in their little heads until later.

  2. avatar Jay Says:

    You make a great point about madness and genius. Once again, not to make the comparison between myself and any sort of genius, but at one time when I was living in the middle of nowhere by myself, I started re-reading a lot of my own writing and decided one night that I hated everything. So I took everything out into the driveway around back and burned it all. Looking back, maybe that was a little nuts, but it seemed completely logical at the time.

    Michael’s dad pushed him beyond what we will ever be able to comprehend. My parents pushed me, but not to that level. They still let me have a childhood.

    I never really thought about the age limit thing on toys until you brought it up, but you are so right. Who is to say whether or not my child will get something out of a certain toy or game? Sure, she might not be able to complete the task at hand, but is completing it the real objective? What if by working on it or playing with it, it triggers other parts of her mind or she starts thinking about how that game or toy could be intertwined with something else? Wouldn’t that really be where the creativity starts? Are we too focused on the completion of set tasks for children when we should be focusing more on the creation of new tasks by those same children?

  3. avatar Wendy Says:

    I think part of the problem now with the age limit is also the parental involvement. There are actually board games that boldly proclaim “no reading required!” In other words, little Johnny and Jenny can do this on their own without mom and dad having to work with them. But mom and dad will feel good about themselves because at least the TV is off.

    Which leads me to the whole Baby Einstein issue, where people have condemned the videos for proclaiming they can help children learn. The thing is, the creator, in all the videos I have, stresses the importance of sitting down with your child to watch the videos and interact with them, even creating flash cards and books etc accompany the videos.

    Are the parents who have now discovered that their kids are still stupid the kind that just plunked them in front of the TV and went off about their business?

    I’m not personally a flash card kind of parent. I have them, but am not diligent with them. I would rather teach in a more natural way, ie “Here’s the yellow banana.” Either way, it’s the interaction that helps a child learn. Today, the interaction encouraged is with computerized games, not with each other.

  4. avatar Wendy Says:

    As for your madness, it’s unfortunate that you burned it all, but I think that’s a common thing for many artists – to see your works and suddenly hate it. And because you were alone, you had no one to stop you from doing that.

    Do you regret burning them?

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