One of the scariest experiences of my childhood occurred at Disneyland when I was about 5 years old. I was at a ride called “Captain EO starring Michael Jackson” which was basically a show in 3-D. This was back in 1992 so 3-D was mind blowing. I remember watching that thing and a monster-looking woman jumped out from the screen and my 5 year old mind freaked out and screamed “holy shit!” if my 5 year old mind had such advanced vocabulary. I remember that scene vividly to this day.
Despite the terror that Michael Jackson’s ride at Disneyland imposed on me when I was 5, I was still enthralled every time I saw him perform. I was glued to the television set, eagerly anticipating when he would do his signature moonwalk. I can replay most of the dance sequences from his music videos in my mind right now, including the knife fight from “Beat It”, the zombie dance from “Thriller”, and the dance where he makes all the tiles on the floor light up from “Billie Jean”. Thinking about them makes me want to watch them all on Youtube right now.
He was the king of pop, and his accolades don’t need any reiteration because everybody knows them. But like any other career, he had a lot of ups and downs that I don’t need to elaborate on either because his strange lapses were so infamous as well. He was the king of the 80’s for sure but things got weirder and weirder in the 90’s and onwards. He bleached his skin, had a couple of strange marriages, draped his kids over a balcony, and of course there were the child molestation accusations. Sadly, these things stand out in my mind as well. Every once in a while I would still play “You Are Not Alone” though, which was from his 1995 album “History”.
And then it seemed as if he died suddenly at the age of 50 in 2009. I remember sitting in a computer lab in college and EVERYBODY was talking about it. People on campus were talking about it, people on TV were talking about it, and so many dedications and memorials were held in his honor, deservedly so. Charles Barkley said he cried when he found out that Michael Jackson died. I was in Toronto and saw a woman painting a picture on the street of Michael Jackson with chalk a year after Jackson’s death. It was as if his legacy just couldn’t be faded.
Michael Jackson is dead but his memory still persists to this day and a mere image of him the other day struck a chord inside of me to write this article. I don’t get paid to write articles, but words persist. In choosing a major and minor in college, I chose psychology and education even though those fields don’t yield a lot of money. I went with my heart instead of the pursuit of money, and I keep questioning myself about whether or not I made the right decision because the work that I do now and the things that I write just don’t seem to have as much monetary potential as other fields such as business, engineering, or finance. And life is not as stable when you go with your heart either because feelings are constantly fluctuating. But money is spent while legacies remain immortal.
I want my life to mean something. I want my words to have an impact. I want to live on after I die. I want people to think, “damn that guy really pursued his passion and I’ll remember that shit”. I am just as terrified now as I was when I was 5 of Captain EO in 3D because my future is so up in the air. But somewhere in my heart I have a glimmer of hope that I can ride out this phase of struggle with fear and live my life with passion. What people will remember us for will be their choice. But the way we live our lives is ours.