It’s hard to believe the world lost another cultural icon yesterday. Michael Jackson was so different from Farrah Fawcett, but he mattered just as much, or some would say even more. It depends on what you value, how old you are, and so many other factors. And, really, don't we all matter equally?

But, in any event, Michael Jackson mattered, because, first, he changed the world of music and dance. You couldn't’t turn on the radio or TV yesterday without hearing him eulogized and remembered, again and again, without hearing his music and seeing him dance in his inimitably fluid, disciplined, and impassioned way, doing the Moonwalk and Circle Slide moves he created.

Second, Michael Jackson matters because he reminds us that fame is not necessarily something to be envied or sought after. We, the public, exploit stars, invading their privacy, and even though they must certainly know that’s the price they pay for success, I can only imagine how they must feel, living in a fishbowl. Maybe a shooting gallery would be a more appropriate metaphor. Remember how he tried to shelter his children from the cameras, covering their faces with scarves and blankets?

Finally, Michael Jackson matters because he reminds us that being talented and accruing enormous wealth do not buy happiness either. Jackson was a true artist, and he gave and gave and gave. We gave him our money, and some gave their obsessive attention and “love”, but as Jackson himself admitted, he was terribly lonely. And deeply disturbed.

And ultimately, he lost his fortune. Sadly, he was about to use his talent to try earn it back with his 30-date world tour.

Although Michael Jackson did not have cancer, he had, like so many of us, a cancer of the soul, something that eats away at us. In that sense, he and Farrah may have shared more than meets the eye.

What a sad, sad day. What can help? Remembering. Allowing ourselves to grieve. Grieving together.

What can heal? Knowing that there is something to be gained, something to be learned, something to be shared from these tragic losses.

We can always hope.

With love,
Author • Editor • Essayist

This originally appeared in Hope's blog, "what helps. what hurts. what heals."

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