Thursday, October 1, 2009

To Quiver Or To Embrace?

Last weekend while turning the pages of The Sunday Times Singapore, my fleeting attention was brought to the headline of a short article: 'Jackson didn't want to grow old: Rabbi'.

More than 3 months after his death, stories and new claims about what Michael Jackson had said (or not!) when he was alive never seem to cease from surfacing in the media. This is to be expected given his 'super mega colossal' of a standing as an incredibly talented music icon of the universe. I reckon that if there are humans on Planet Mars, even they would know who Michael Jackson was. I love Michael Jackson! Always have been, and always will be. Like millions of others, I was deeply saddened and teared by his passing. But, if it's of any consolation, I think he had a good death. A death so peaceful and unexpected. A death while sleeping. A death while he ruled the world as the most legendary King of Pop and King of Kings in the music world and more. I chose to love him for his greatness, his unpublished charitable and philantropic acts, and his compassion for humankind and nature. I was and am not swayed by the unproven accusations nor his chosen route of facial transformations nor any of his uncanny public displayed behaviors. Like any of us, he was an individual and his fears and concerns were valid.

The latest claim above from spiritual adviser Rabbi Shmuley Boteac in his newly released book - "The Michael Jackson Tapes: A Tragic Icon Reveals His Soul in Intimate Conversation" about Michael Jackson being fearful of growing old was not new nor surprising. It was said that the gist of the book was based on a 30-hour of recorded conversations between the Rabbi and Michael Jackson sometime between August 2000 and April 2001 in which the late and reclusive pop star spilled his thoughts on life, love and the turmoil of his childhood.

Fearing the ravages of old age, the book recounted some comments Michael Jackson had said during the time of the interview:

"I would like some way to disappear where people don't see me anymore at some point.
I don't want to grow old. I never want to look in the mirror and see that."

Scarily enough, that was almost like a self-prophecy through a crystal ball on the fate of how his life would eventually turn out to be, as it had on June 25.

Recently, I received a circulated email from my sister about Julie Andrews' (of Sound of Music) lightheartedness and brilliant wit during the commemoration of her 69th birthday a few years ago. For the commemoration, she had made a special appearance at Manhattan's Radio City Music Hall where she belted out one of the musical numbers from the legendary movie, "My Favorite Things', with a humorous twist to the lyrics.

Here are the lyrics and if you do know the tunes, sing along (only if you're not at the work place while reading this!). Julie Andrews is 74 years old this year.

Botox and nose drops and needles for knitting, Walkers and handrails and new dental fittings, Bundles of magazines tied up in a string, These are a few of my favorite things.

Cadillacs and cataracts, Hearing aids and glasses, Polident and Fixodent and false teeth in glasses, Pacemakers, golf carts and porches with swings, These are a few of my favorite things.

When the pipes leak, when the bone creaks, When the knees go bad, I simply remember my favorite things, And then I don't feel so bad.

Hot tea and crumpets and corn pads for bunions,
No spicy food or food cooked with onions, Bathrobe and heating pads and hot meals they bring, These are a few of my favorite things.

Back pain, confused brains and no need for sinnin',
Thin bones and fractures and hair that is thinnin', And we won't mention our short shrunken frames, When we remember our favorite things.

When the joints ache, when the hips break, When the eyes grow dim, Then I remember the great life I've had, And then I don't feel so bad.

The point is, all living things are subject to the law of nature and aging. There is no magic spell that can defy this law, and certainly there is no magic potion which can completely retain our youth, regardless what all those award winning ads say!

Whether we have admitted it or not, have thought about it or not, all of us are either afraid, concerned or do not look forward to aging. But that does not mean we want to leave this world a young person either. Our fears and concerns are simply a part of human nature. No one looks forward to the potentials of rheumatism, joint pains, grey hair, baldness, wrinkles, narrowing arteries, sickness, Alzheimer's disease, foggy thoughts, bare gums and worries of abandonment which may be looming in the horizons. Facing aging has never been more challenging than the world we live in now. The world we live in now conditions us to the material world and our ever deepening attachments to youth, love, beauty, fun and all things related to it. There is no escaping from this fear. But perhaps, there is a way to managing it.

Although we may share part of Mr Jackson's fears, may we always remind ourselves that while we age alone, we are not alone in facing the challenges of this natural life process. And because of the fact that death and old age are unavoidable, we should start making the best of our lives now by adding positive values to ourselves and people around us, if we haven't already.

And maybe to also start on reinforcing our mental fortress to guard against the fears of what lies ahead should we all be ever so lucky to reach old age in the first place. And if we do, may we embrace Ms Andrews' wit and humor. And if we get luckier, we'll be able to age gracefully, healthily and where we can joyfully sing along to the above lyrics......and lucidly remember the great life we had!!