Now on to the other short piece I wanted to share today. “I’m Beautiful” was a poem that came back into my consciousness last March, when I was preparing for my presentation on Dancing The Dream. “I’m Beautiful” is not from that collection, but it was while surfing Youtube for Dancing The Dream selections that I stumbled upon this very powerful video of “I’m Beautiful” that was posted by The Kingdom52.
Not much is known about this poem, other than that Michael wrote it on the back of a laundry service list of The Lodge, a resort on Pebble Beach that he frequented during the late 80’s and early 90’s.
I was struck not only by the beauty and powerful message of this video, as it conveyed Michael’s message to the world, but curious anew about this little-known poem that Michael scribbled one day, most likely on the spur of a moment, at Pebble Beach. However, at the time, it wasn’t relevant to what I was doing with Dancing The Dream. As I said, it was not a poem from that collection (though given the timeframe and location of its inception, it may well have emerged as part of the same creative energy that produced those works). Anyway, I put it on the backburner with the intention of coming back to it at a later time. Then, as things heated up with the AEG trial, the Wade Robson allegations, and so many of the other stories that have made the last couple of months such a halycon, there seemed even less time to dedicate to a little scrap of a poem that Michael wrote on the back of a laundry service list eons ago.
Except that, throughout all of the upheavals of these last two months, this poem has never left my mind. In fact, I have heard it like the crash of a thundering wave, growing louder and more intense as the headlines surrounding his name have only grown more chaotic in the last few weeks. Sometimes I just have to give in and accept that there is a reason why a certain thing is calling me so intensely. “I’m Beautiful” was a poem that did not wish to be ignored any longer.
First of all, I just want to add a word or two regarding this video and some of The Kingdom52’s more extreme views. Obviously, this person is a Death Hoax believer, and is using some of the words from Michael’s poem as justification for her beliefs. I want to make it clear, here and now, that I am not a Death Hoax believer (if I were, I think that would have been abundantly clear long before now, lol) but I can certainly see how some of this poem’s more cryptic lines-“I’m a new person now,” “Knowing the secrets and determined with fire to move mountains,” “Molding my own world,” “The old me is behind,” “I will march ahead anew”-would give Death Hoax believers a lot of ammunition.
But anyway, I’m not posting the vid because I ascribe to her views, necessarily, but rather, only because I think it is a beautiful video, period. And because I think she beautifully captures the spirit and essence of this poem. I have seen other videos of this poem, but none to me are quite as powerful as this one. So, I am presenting it here with all due respect for our differences of opinion.
However, for those of us who reject the Death Hoax theory, what else might we learn about Michael from this poem?
We know that Michael was prone to writing manifestos, carefully setting down and committing to paper his long-term goals for his life. http://www.allforloveblog.com/?p=8143
It is, however, unlikely that this was any sort of long term plan for his eventual “death,” disappearance, and rebirth into a new life, except perhaps on a spiritual level. For starters, the dating of this poem (as I said, probably sometime in the late 80’s or early 90’s, when Michael was frequenting Pebble Beach) makes this scenario seem unlikely. Now, yes, if he had written this in late 2008 or early 2009, then I might be giving this idea more than a passing nod.
But casting aside all death hoax theories, what exactly was Michael saying in this poem? We can’t fully appreicate the message until we know the place that Michael had to get to, within himself, in order to be able to say to the world that I am beautiful.
These words came from a man whose insecurities over his personal appearance dominated almost every aspect of his life. I am not just repeating this because I’ve fallen for the tabloid fodder. On the contrary, I do think the media exaggerated a lot of this. But nevertheless, I have heard it in confidence from many who were close to Michael that, yes, he was always convinced he was ugly. In fact, “just so ugly” was how David Nordahl described to me Michael’s feelings about how he looked.
The tabloid ridicule through the years, no doubt, only intensified this insecurity.
Michael Jackson: I look like a lizard, I look like, it’s horrible. I don’t like it, I never like it. That’s why I wish I could never be photographed or seen and I push myself to go to the things that we go to. –From The Michael Jackson Tapes, Rabbi Schmuley Boteach.
It goes even deeper than being about physical appearance, however. I don’t have to tell you that Michael’s lifelong battle with the media and the public image of him that they, in part, created was vicious in the extreme. Michael may have had rhinocerous skin, as he once said. But eventually, anybody can become worn down under the weight of constant ridicule and scorn.
When the world thinks you are a freak, what do you eventually begin to think of yourself?
This was a battle that Michael fought, constantly, for years. I suppose, yes, in some ways he could have conformed to societal expectations and become “normal.” But at what cost? And how boring is “normal” anyway? Aside from his great creative gifts, Michael’s life became both an internal and public battle to reconcile just who he was, and just where he fit. For all of us who have known the pain of physical abuse, of bullying, and insecurity, self acceptance is not something that comes easy. Let alone self celebration.
To be able to say, even on paper, “Hey, I am somebody. I am beautiful” may take years of growth and self reflection. Even then, some of us never get there.
The sad irony in this is that this was Michael Jackson, one of the most celebrated persons on this planet. He must have heard he was beautiful all the time. For sure, he heard it from his legions of female fans. He was used to the accolades, all of the “You’re the greatest, Michael.”
But it seemed he still had to actively work at convincing himself that he was somebody worthy of space on God’s green earth.
I’m Beautiful (repeated 4 times)
I’m Gorgeouse [sic]
God Is For Me, Who Can Be Against Me…
What was going through his mind that day, as he scribbled those words on the back of that laundry list? What place was he in?
I’m reminded of an interview I saw with Rev. June Gaitlin a few years back where she said part of her healing mantra with Michael was to get him to proclaim “I am beautiful.” She said he kept repeating it, but he was repeating it in his high voice, and not very convincingly. She kept urging him to use his real voice; to say it like he meant it; to shout it from the rooftop, until finally he suddenly shouted-in his “real voice”-“I am beautiful!”
Did Michael really know he was beautiful? Despite all of the tabloid stories that depict him as a tragic and fallen human being, full of insecurity and self-loathing (their favorite narrative) the evidence from Michael’s own words suggests that he was very much in touch with his own inner strength. He always knew what he was capable of. He was aware of his beauty. But perhaps, like all of us, he sometimes needed a little reminding. We are all dependent upon the need to love and to feel loved. For Michael, it meant coming to realize that the only effective way to create change really does begin with the ability to love (if you’ll pardon my cliche’) the man in the mirror.
Sadly, the only reason we even know of this poem’s existence is because it turned up for sale on Julien’s Auctions.
The winning bid went for $16, 250.
Sixteen thousand dollars seems like a steep price to pay for some words written on paper.
But the true worth of those words can only be measured in terms of what they accomplished for Michael’s soul.
As the old Mastercard commercials used to say: Priceless.
ETA: Back in 2010, Seven Bowie did an interesting piece on this poem as well, which you might want to check out: