The world is all around us
The days are flying past
And fear is so contagious
But I’m not afraid to laugh
I could go at anytime
There’s nothing safe about this life
I could go at anytime
– Neil Finn, “Anytime”
When I opened my browser today I got the same main headline from all the news sources: Michael Jackson Dead. I should not be surprised, the man has looked like a walking zombie for all too many years. Still, I sort of am; he wasn’t all that old, and it was… sudden.
I’m no Michael Jackson fan, but neither am I a hater. I remember when Thriller came out, way back when. I was (more or less) in the Finnish equivalent of high school, and I remember how cool the album was. I also remember the videos, which were extraordinary at the time. Haven’t followed his career musically much after that… but I haven’t been able to avoid reading about his troubled life now and then. He was just such a strange, sad figure; like Britney Spears, an object lesson of what too much money and fame coupled with limited mental stability can do to you. In the end, he looked more like a movie monster than a pop star, due to way too much (failed) plastic surgery and who knows what medication. About the other accusations… I don’t know. The thing with accusations of sexual molestation is that it doesn’t really matter whether the court finds you guilty or not, you’re branded guilty in the public eye anyway. Most of the “Michael Jackson jokes” going around have to do with child molestation. Is that deserved? Hell if I know. I guess I’ll just go with “speak no evil of the dead”. I always found the later Jackson to be a… sad figure.
Sudden death is jarring. I’ve lost one very dear person due to that, and it’s a shock I hope (perhaps in vain) to never repeat. You hope to die of extreme old age (with your mental faculties still more or less intact), surrounded by people you love, having outlived all your enemies (if any). That might happen, if you’re lucky. Or you might get run over by a car the next day, with no warning. Baji-naji.
Worrying about that is useless and counterproductive. Living a reasonably healthy life is smart, getting enough exercise is crucial… but other than those obvious points, you don’t have all that much control. Avoiding fun things just because they are a bit dangerous makes no sense to me, because doing that misses the point. At some point you will die, and there is no life after that (sorry, religious people, but that’s how it almost certainly works out). What matters is how you lived, what you did for other people, how the world remembers you.
Life is damn short and damn long at the same time. The world is wide.