The thumping, glittery brilliance of Michael Jackson made him an icon. I watched fans carry homemade portraits of him (much like the gilded icons of Jesus carried in Greek Orthodox Churches) to mourn his passing." Seeing the astonishing outpouring of grief and celebration shows us that he was the dictionary definition of the word icon: "a person or thing regarded as a representative symbol of something." Jackson had all the things that have been highly prized in our culture: fame, fortune, and talent. Yet, it was very obvious that all of those outer trappings didn't bring him contentment. It is easy to look at Jackson's life and gawk at his excesses. He entertained us rather than living a life that was based on the deeper longing of his heart and soul. We have projected our inner genius and inner freak on this deceased entertainer. Merely seeing him as a symbol bypasses the internal learning we can gain from his life. However, his life offers an opportunity for looking had how he was and "the man in the mirror" for our own longings.
You Can Never Get Enough Of What You Don't Really Want
As a symbol of American consumer spending, Jackson died in debt. According to The Wall Street Journal, Michael died about $500 million in debt. (Americans carry $2.56 trillion in consumer debt, up 22 percent since 2000 alone, according to the Federal Reserve Board.)
I am still scratching my head about Jackson's finances. How could a person amass that much debt? Then I remember watching a BBC special about Jackson back in 2003. Jackson was filmed spending $6 million on a shopping excursion in Las Vegas. He gathered up antiques the way you or I toss carrots in a grocery cart. Like many Americans, Jackson used compulsive shopping as a way to dull the pain of open wounds from his childhood. As I reflect on my Inner MIchael, I see my own longing for acceptance. I certainly have used buying a new pair of shoes or several pair if they were on sale to calm my jangled nerves. How can I offer the kindness instead of criticism to those parts of myself I find ugly and unacceptable? What about you?
There are stories about Jackson feeling so ugly as a child that he wanted to wear a mask on stage, and numerous accounts of his father taunting him and calling him "Fat Nose." In her wonderful post, Judith Rich exposed Michael Jackson's pain: "Michael Jackson: It Hurts To Be Me." Like the rest of us, he used a complex array of destructive behaviors to dull his inner aching. As a symbol of Americans' distaste for their appearances, he expressed his internal pain through war with his body. (Researcher J.J. Brumberg found that 53% of 13-year-old girls were dissatisfied with their appearance. That figure jumps to 73% for 17-year-olds. Instead of dealing with his internal demons, he focused on fixing his outsides.
Jackson had the funds to 'fix his face.' Here is Michael's face morphing. Reports say that he had so many nose jobs that his surgeons dared not risk another one. His surgeon stated that he began to fake surgeries, persuading Jackson that they had done further surgery when they had not. This need to fix his outsides was a call for the longing to heal his insides.
Like most Americans, Jackson was under the persistent pressure to perform. I see my own crazy schedule and realize that I often put my work before my own nurturing. What about you? Michael Jackson had stadiums of adoring fans screaming his name. It appears that external adoration couldn't heal the desperate pain he felt inside. As I look at myself, I see that I have judged a sudden eruption of fat around my stomach. Since it is bikini season, I am constantly aware of this unwelcome addition to my body. Could I accept myself more? How about you?
Man in The Mirror
For all his fame and wealth, he didn't get a chance to live the life he wanted. He was a shy and very sensitive person. The loudness and brashness of his job must have been very tough on those tender nerves. I believe that many of us are using him to mourn not getting to live the life we wanted. Each of us has a Michael Jackson inside. Each of us is both brilliant and wounded. If you dive deep enough into those areas of freaky-crazy-darkness you will find that at their core they are an expression of love as well. In my practice, I am continually in awe of the human spirit and what it can create. There is incredible preciousness inside each of us. We get so distracted by the tornado of circumstances in our lives that we forget to focus on that gleaming beauty inside. Tina Brown brought up a super point in an interview on NPR on Tuesday. She spoke about how Michael Jackson's death liberated him from the sleaze and allows us to celebrate his soaring talent. That comment brought me back to the symbolism of the icon. How can I rise above my limitations ? How can I more clearly live my life as a demonstration of the shining preciousness of my core? Can you claim more of the deep value inside?
How To Make An Icon
Several years ago, I made a sort of icon. It was a watercolor figure that depicted God sharing energy through me. Seeing that image above my desk helped me to reconnect with my 'mission' during the very long hours of finishing my book. In Eastern Orthodox Churches icons are carried to aid worshipers in their devotion. What if you could create an Icon to express the blazing majesty of your Soul and its contribution here? Yes, I know that some of you will rake me over the coals as "woo woo" and cheesy. That's okay. If you actually give this exercise a whirl you will watch your inner life transform.
Supplies: A large blank piece of paper or two, your favorite art supplies, and a few minutes of private time.
1. Center Yourself.
Take in a deep breath. Let it out. Now, breathe in the good. Exhale the lousy. Do these three times as you begin to feel more centered.
2. Ask for the Greatest Good.
Take a moment and connect with your authentic nature. The best way to create more of what you want is to begin the process in a state of unity with your source. When you remember your spiritual nature, it is good to remember that you are interconnected with all those that inhabit our earth. It is for the highest good of all concerned.
3. Set Your Intention.
Set your intention to empower yourself. What would it feel like to live from your authentic goodness? Wouldn't your world be a better place? You bet!
4. Write It Down.
Now it's time to put it on paper! Write: "I, [your name], claim and manifest my good. Everyday I enjoy more health, wealth, happiness, and love." It's your life. Make your Icon just the way you want it. Use all the color and glitter you like! If you are a visual person, you might use colors and images instead of words.
5. Use Your Natural Resources.
What are a few of the positive qualities at your core? What are your strengths? Add three of these positive qualities or strengths to your Icon. For instance: "Inside me I use love in every way I can, I laugh more often, use my creativity, and speak my truth with kindness." Go for it!
6. Post It.
Post your Icon with pride. The very best place to put it is where you see will it just before falling asleep at night. That helps your unconscious to absorb the images.
7. Thank Yourself.
Thank yourself for making the positive choice to honor your essence.