A belated Thanksgiving post. I'm still sticking with my primary topic, but it's a little more melancholy today, as a close friend of my father-in-law, going all the way back to childhood in rural NC, died yesterday. We didn't find out until after we'd returned home from Thanksgiving dinner at my brother-in-law's house across town, but it made the evening more somber, something not alleviated by the Giants losing to the Broncos, the high point of yesterday's football games.
The thrust of my post is thanks. Even before the occasion, it was brought to the forefront of my mind when I took my 10 year old daughter to see Michael Jackson's This Is It. Long ago and far away I had been as much a fan of the Jackson 5 and Michael Jackson as most people my age. The Satuday morning cartoon through Thriller were fun, but after those years his talent was lost in the morass that was his freakishness. His musical ability and just outright entertainment skill was subsumed by the plastic surgeries, the arrested development, and the questionable source of his children, not to mention the one dangled over a balcony.
This Is It was as poignant a film as I've seen in a long while. It wasn't intended to be melancholy or maudlin, but watching the man so adeptly work to create a stage show for the ages caused two reactions for me. First, the man was an entertainer par excellance. He had a vision for the shows in his head and knew his catalog better than anyone. Any song, he knew the rhythm so well as to spot any deviation by his musicians that detracted from the show.
Watching the film, I couldn't help but think that if only the man's entire life had only been on stage, he'd have been so much more the better off for it. If he hadn't had to deal with his father's rants and shortcomings, perhaps his life off stage could have been more balanced, but with the life he did have, life on stage seemed like the best place for him. There he shone.
That led to the second reaction, which was just sadness. Sad without even considering his family, particularly his kids. Sad for the lost opportunities of a longer life. Sad for the loss to all of us in what we could have seen from him. To my daughter, the film was just a nice showing of what would have been in the concerts, but she's not old enough, nor has she experienced enough, to have any more sadness than she first had when he died in June.
So, that experience set me in the mood of thinking how thankful I am to my parents and family for where I am in life, a life of balance and happiness. Even with the loss of those in my parents' generation, becoming more frequent now, as well as the general economic distress of the time, it's a good life and a good time.