People are saying about the sad and sudden passing of Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, the same thing they said about Elvis: good career move. It’s a bit uncharitable but not entirely inaccurate. He was (and is, in death) a global star but his career had been on a downward spiral for years. Now he’s back on top of the charts.
And given the cult-like veneration given him by some, expect “Michael sightings” to happen a lot in the coming years. He didn’t really die, he was abducted by aliens.
In any case, he has joined the pantheon of stars who tragically bid adieu before their time, a line which stretches back to Marilyn Monroe to Rudolph Valentino and beyond.
Some clear lessons we can pick up from his eventful but unhappy life:
1. Pay attention to your finances — You can be the biggest draw in the world, and earn hundreds of millions, even billions of dollars, but if your expenses outstrip your earnings, you’re in trouble. I was again reminded of this universally-known but much ignored truism in a talk by personal financial adviser Randell Tiongson yesterday. Mr. Jackson’s financial woes certainly contributed to his burdens in later years.
2. Confront Your Demons — or they might just kill you. You don’t have to wrestle with them on a daily basis but should honestly acknowledge them at some point. They have a nasty way of biting you in the butt when you’re not looking, like a pack of rabid dogs. Michael Jackson had big issues. About childhood abuse at the hands of his father, his obvious ambivalence about his race and sexuality and God knows what else. But he didn’t seem to want to undertake the hard legwork of bringing them to light and possibly forging an uneasy truce. Instead he went on Oprah. Which is not the same thing. If necessary, seek professional help.
3. Lighten Up — and I don’t mean dermatologically. Despite his much ballyhooed child-like character, I think he took himself and his public persona much too seriously. Which may have led to the cosmetic surgery. And the drugs. A little humor at the expense of his so-called showbiz image would have lifted the fog somewhat and given him a wider view of his horizons. As economist John Maynard Keynes famously said, in the long run we are all dead. No need to rush the process.
Of course, I can easily spew out such advice, not having known the pain of being Michael Jackson. But I sincerely pray that he finds in death the peace that eluded him in life.