It's easy to mistake being innocent for being simpleminded or naive.  We all want to seem sophisticated; we all want to seem street-smart.  To be innocent is to be "out of it."

Yet there is a deep truth in innocence.  A baby looks in his mother's eyes, and all he sees is love.  As innocence fades away, more complicated things take its place.  We think we need to outwit others and scheme to get what we want.  We being to spend a lot of energy protecting ourselves.  Then life turns into a struggle.  People have no choice but to be street-smart.  How else can they survive?

When you get right down to it, survival means seeing things the way they really are and responding.  It means being open.  And that's what innocence is.  It's simple and trusting like a child, not judgemental and committed to one narrow point of view.  If you are locked into a pattern of thinking and responding, your creativity gets blocked.  You miss the freshness and magic of the moment.  Learn to be innocent again, and that freshness never fades.


Love is a funny thing to describe.  It's so easy to feel and yet so slippery to talk about.  It's like a bar of soap in the bathtub - you have it in your hand until you hold on too tight.

Some people spend their lives looking for love outside of themselves.  They think they have to grasp it in order to have it.  But love slips away like that wet bar of soap.

Holding on to love is not wrong, but you need to learn to hold it lightly, caressingly.  Let it fly when it wants.  When it's allowed to be free, love is what makes life alive, joyful and new.  It's the juice and energy that motivates my music, my dancing, everything.  As long as love is in my heart, it's everywhere.

How I Make Music

People ask me how I make music.  I tell them I just step into it.  It's like stepping into a river and joining the flow.  Every moment in the river has its song.  So I stay in the moment and listen.

What I hear is never the same.  A walk through the woods brings a light, crackling song:  Leaves rustle in the wind, birds chatter and squirrels scold, twigs crunch underfoot, and the beat of my heart holds it all together.  When you join the flow, the music is inside and outside, and both are the same.  As long as I can listen to the moment, I'll always have music.


Children show me in their playful smiles the divine in everyone.  This simple goodness shines straight from their hearts.  This has so much to teach.  If a child wants chocolate ice cream, he justs asks for it.  Adults get tangled up in complications over whether to eat the ice cream or not.  A child simply enjoys.

What we need to learn from children isn't childish.  Being with them connects us to the deep wisdom of life, which is everpresent and only asks to be lived.  Now, when the world is so confused and its problems so complicated.  I feel we need our children more than ever.  Their natural wisdom points the way to solutions that lie, waiting to be recognized, within our hearts.

Magical Child

Once there was a child and he was free
Deep inside, he felt the laughter
The mirth and play of nature's glee
He was not troubled by thoughts of hereafter
Beauty, love was all he'd see

He knew his power was the power of God
He was so sure, they considered him odd
This power of innocence, of compassion, of light
Threatened by priests and created a fright
In endless ways they sought to dismantle
This mysterious force which they could not handle

In endless ways they tried to destroy
His simple trust, his boundless joy
His invincible armor was a shield of bliss
Nothing could touch it, no venom, no hiss

The child remained in a state of grace
He wasn't confined in time or place
In Technicolor dreams, he frolicked and played
While acting his part, in Eternity he stayed

Soothsayers came and fortunes were told
Some were vehement, others were bold
In denouncing this child, this perplexing creature
With the rest of the world he shared no feature
Is he real?  He is so strange
His unpredictable nature knows no range
He puzzles us so, is he straight?
What's his destiny?  What's his fate?

And while they whispered and conspired
Through endless rumors to get him tired
To kill his wonder, trample him near
Burn his courage, fuel his fear
The child remained just simple, sincere

All he wanted was the mountain high
Color the clouds, paint the sky
Beyond these boundaries, he wanted to fly
In nature's scheme, never to die

Don't stop this child, he's the father of man
Don't cross his way, he's part of the plan
I am that Child, but so are you
You've just forgotten, just lose the clue

Inside your heart sits a Seer
Between his thoughts, he can hear
A melody so simple, but wondrously clear
The music of life, so precious, so dear

If you could for one moment know
This spart of creation, this exquisite glow
You would come and dance with me
Kindle this fire so we could see
All the children of the Earth
Weave their magic and give new birth
To a world of freedom with no pain
A world of joy, much more sane

Deep inside, you know it's true
Just find that child, it's hiding in you.

On Children of the World

We have to heal our wounded world.  The chaos, despair, and senseless destruction we see today are a result of the alienation that people feel from each other and their environment.  Often this alienation has its roots in an emotionally deprived childhood.  Children have had their childhood stolen from them.  A child's mind needs the nourishment of mystery, magic, wonder and excitement.  I want my work to help people rediscover the child that's hiding in them.

The Fish That Was Thirsty

One night a baby fish was sleeping under some coral when God appeared to him in a dream.  "I want you to go forth with a message to all the fish in the sea," God said.

"What should I tell them?" the little fish asked.

"Just tell them you're thirsty," God replied.  "And see what they do."  Then without another word, He disappeared.

The next morning the little fish woke up and remembered his dream.  "What a strange thing God wants me to do," he though to himself.  But as soon as he saw a large tuna swimming by, the little fish piped up.  "Excuse me, but I'm thirsty."

"Then you must be a fool," the tuna said.  And with a disdainful flick of his tail, he swam away.

The little fish did feel rather foolish, but he had his orders.  The next fish he saw was a grinning shark.  Keeping a safe distance, the little fish called out, "Excuse me, sir, but I'm thirsty."

"Then you must be crazy," the shark replied.  Noticing a rather hungry look in the shark's eye, the little fish swam away quickly.

All day he met cod and mackerels and swordfish and groupers, but every time he made his short speech, they turned their backs and would have nothing to do with him.  Feeling hopelessly confused, the little fish sought out the wisest creature in the sea, who happened to be an old blue whale with three harpoon scars on his side.

"Excuse me, but I'm thirsty!" the little fish shouted, wondering if the old whale could even see him, he was such a tiny speck.  But the wise one stopped in his tracks.  "You've seen God, haven't you?"  he said.

"How did you know?"

"Because I was thirsty once, too."  The old whale laughed.

The little fish looked very surprised.  "Please tell me what this message from God means," he implored.

"It means that we are looking for Him in the wrong places," the old whale explained.  "We look high and low for God, but somehow He's not there.  So we blame Him and tell ourselves that He must have forgotten us.  Or else we decide that He left  a long time ago, if He was ever around."

"How strange," the little fish said, "to miss what is everywhere."

"Very strange," the old whale agreed.  "Doesn't it remind you of fish who say they're thirsty?"

Berlin 1989

They hated the Wall, but what could they do?  It was too strong to break through.

They feared the Wall, but didn't that make sense?  Many who tried to climb over it were killed.

They distrusted the Wall, but who wouldn't?  Their enemies refused to tear down one brick, no matter how long the peace talks dragged on.

THe Wall laughed grimly.  "I'm teaching you a good lesson," it boasted.  "If you want to build for eternity, don't bother with stones.  Hatred, fear, and distrust are so much stronger."

They knew the Wall was right, and they almost gave up.  Only one thing stopped them.  They remembered who was on the other side.  Grandmother, cousin, sister, wife.  Beloved faces that yearned to be seen.

"What's happening?" the Wall asked, trembling.  Without knowing what they did, they were looking through the Wall, trying to find their dear ones.  Silently, from one person to another, love kept up its invisible work.

"Stop it!" the Wall shrieked.  "I'm falling apart."  But it was too late.  A million hearts had found each ohter.  The Wall had fallen before it came down.

I Searched For My Star

When I was little I used to lie on my back in the grass at night.  I began to tell one star from another and wished that one of them could be mine, like an imaginary friend.

First I picked the Pole Star, because it is the easiest for a child to find, once you know that the Big Dipper is about to catch it.  But I wanted my star to be a moving star, and not such a constant one.  Besides, the sailors at sea would be lost without the Pole Star to guide them.

Next I picked out two special stars in the heart of the Swan.  All the other stars looked white, but these were bright blue and gold.  They reminded me of twin jewels, but before I could choose, I stopped.  They belonged to each other, and it wouldn't be fair to take just one.

Orion's belt caught my eye for a moment, but I'm not a hunter.  I had better leave the Dog Star alone too, with its nose pressed to the celestial trail and its tail thumping the sky.

Last of all I turned to my favorites, the Seven Sisters.  To me they were like elegant ladies getting ready for a ball, wrapped in a gossamer blue cloud.  But who has the heart to tear seven sisters apart?

My game taught me a lot about the night sky, but I was growing up.  The whole idea of having my own star faded, and it was hard to remember if I had ever chosen one in the end.  People began to tell me that the word "star" meant something quite different.  I half believed them, then one night I was tossing in bed, hurt and worried.  My heart felt heavy with troubles.  Stumbling to my feet, I looked out the window.  Thick clouds masked the midnight sky.  No stars!

I trembled to think of a world without stars.  No guide for the sailor to trust at sea, no jewels to dazzle our sense of beauty, no hunter pointing to the next horizon, no lovely ladies trailing perfume to heaven's ballroom.  But all around the globe, the air is so dirty and the lights from cities are so bright that for some people few stars can be seen anymore.  A generation of children may grow up seeing a blank sky and asking, "Did there used to be stars there?"

Let's give them back the sky and let's do it now, before it's too late.  I'm going to search for my star until I find it.  It's hidden in the drawer of innocence, wrapped in a scarf of wonder.  I'll need a map to tell me which hole it should fill, and that will be a small one.  But there are nearly five billion of us on earth, and we all need the sky.  Find your star and throw it up to heaven.  You still have it, don't you?

Michael's Poetry
Reflections On The Dance
Michael Joseph Jackson Remembered
A celebration of love, spirit, truth & faith.  Celebrating his life, his legacy, and his humanity
Click Here to see more of Michael's poems

As I was feeding squirrels in the park, I noticed a small one that didn't seem to trust me.  While the others came close enough to eat out of my hand, he kept his distance.  I threw a peanut his way.  He edged up, grabbed it nervously, and ran off.  Next time he must have felt less afraid, because he came a little closer.  The safer he felt, the more he trusted me.  Finally, he sat right at my feet, as bold as any squirrel clamoring for the next peanut.

Trust is like that - it always seems to come down to trusting in yourself.  Others can't overcome fear for you; you have to do it on your own.  It's hard, because fear and doubt hold on tight.  We are afraid of being rejected, of being hurt once more.  So we keep a safe distance.  We think separating ourselves from others will protect us, but that doesn't work, either.  It leaves us feeling alone and unloved.

Trusting yourself begins by recognizing that it's okay to be afraid.  Having fear is not the problem, because everyone feels anxious and insecure sometimes.  The problem is not being honest enough to admit your fear.  Whenever I accept my own doubt and insecurity, I'm more open to other people.  The deeper I go into myself, the stronger I become, because I realize that my real self is much bigger than any fear.

In accepting yourself completely, trust becomes complete.  There is no longer any separation between people, because there is no longer any separation inside.  In the space where fear used to live, love is allowed to grow.


It's curious what takes courage and what doesn't.  When I step out on stage in front of thousands of people, I don't feel that I'm being brave.  It can take much more courage to express true feelings to one person.  When I think of courage, I think of the Cowardly Lion from The Wizard of Oz.  He was always running away from danger.  He often cried and shook with fear.  But he was also sharing his real feelings with those he loved, even though he didn't always like those feelings.

That takes real courage, the courage to be intimate.  Expressing your feelings is not the same as falling apart in front of someone else - it's being accepting and true to your heart, whatever it may say.  When you have the courage to be intimate, you know who you are, and you're willing to let others see that.  It's scary, because you feel so vulnerable, so open to rejection.  But without self-acceptance, the other kind of courage, the kind heroes show in movies, seems hollow.  In spite of the risks, the courage to be honest and intimate opens the way to self-discovery.  It offers what we all want, the promise of love.

But the heart said no

They saw the poor living in cardboard shacks, so they knocked the shacks down and built projects.  Huge blocks of cement and glass towered over asphalt parking lots.  Somehow it wasn't much like home, even home in a shack.  "What do you expect?" they asked impatiently.  "You're too poor to live like us.  Until you can do better for yourselves, you should be grateful, shouldn't you?"

The head said yes, but the heart said no.

They needed more electricity in the city, so they found a mountain stream to dam.  As the waters rose, dead rabbits and deer floated by; baby birds too young to fly drowned in the next while mother birds cried helplessly.  "It's not a pretty sight," they said, "but now a million people can run their air conditioners all summer.  That's more important than one mountain stream, isn't it?"

The head said yes, but the heart said no.

They saw oppression and terrorism in a far-off land, so they made war against it.  Bombs reduced the country to rubble.  Its population cowered in fear, and every day more villagers were buried in rough wooden coffins.  "You have to be prepared to make sacrifices," they said.  "If some innocent bystanders get hurt, isn't that just the price one must pay for peace?"

The head said yes, but the heart said no.

The years rolled by and they got old.  Sitting in their comfortable houses, they took stock.  "We've had a good life," they said, "and we did the right thing."  Their children looked down and asked why poverty, pollution, and war were still unsolved.  "You'll find out soon enough," they replied.  "Human being are weak and selfish.  Despite our best efforts, these problems will never really end."

The head said yes, but the children looked into their hearts and whispered "No!"

The Boy and the Pillow

A wise father wanted to teach his young son a lesson.  "Here is a pillow covered in silk brocade and stuffed with the rarest goose down in the land," he said.  "Go to town and see what it will fetch."

First the boy went to the marketplace, where he saw a wealthy feather merchant.  "What will you give me for this pillow?" he asked.  The merchant narrowed his eyes.  "I will give you fifty gold ducats, for I see that this is a rare treasure indeed."

The boy thanked him and went on.  Next he saw a farmer's wife peddling vegetables by the side of the road.  "What will you give me for this pillow?" he asked.  She felt it and exclaimed, "How soft it is!  I'll give you one piece of silver, for I long to lay my weary head on such a pillow."

The boy thanked her and walked on.  Finally he saw a young peasant girl washing the steps of a church.  "What will you give me for this pillow?" he asked.  Looking at him with a strange smile, she replied, "I'll give you a penny, for I can see that your pillow is hard compared to these stones."  Without hesitation, the boy laid the pillow at her feet.

When he got home, he said to his father, "I have gotten the best price for your pillow."  And he held out the penny.

"What?" his father exclaimed.  "That pillow was worth a hundred gold ducats at least."

"That's what a wealthy merchant saw," the boy said, "but being greedy, he offered me fifty.  I got a better offer than that.  A farmer's wife offered me one piece of silver."

"Are you mad?" his father said.  "Whe nis one piece of silver worth more than fifty gold ducats?"

"When it's offered out of love," the boy replied.  "If she had given me more, she wouldn't have been able to feed her children.  Yet I got a better offer than that.  I saw a peasant girl washing the steps of a church who offered me this penny."

"You have lost your wits completely," his father said, shaking his head.  "When is a penny worth more than a piece of silver?"

"When its offered out of devotion," the boy replied.  "For she was laboring for her Lord, the steps of His house seemed softer than any pillow.  Poorer than the poorest, she still had time for God.  And that is why I offered her that pillow."

At this the wise father smiled and embraced his son, and with a tear in his eye he murmured, "You have learned well."

enough for today

Dance rehearsals can go on past midnight, but this time I stopped at ten.  "I hope you don't mind," I said, looking up into space, "but that's enough for today."

A voice from the control room spoke.  "You okay?"

"A little tired, I guess," I said.

I slipped on a windbreaker and headed down the hall.  Running footsteps came up behind me.  I was pretty sure who they belonged to.  "I know you too well," she said, catching up with me.  "What's really wrong?"

I hesitated.  "Well, I don't know how this sounds, but I saw a picture today in the papers.  A dolphin had drowned in a fishing net.  From the way its body was tangled in the lines, you could read so much agony.  Its eyes were vacant, yet there was still that smile, the one dolphins never lose, even when they die..."  My voice trailed off.

She put her hand lightly in mine.  "I know, I know."

"No, you don't know all of it yet.  It's not ust that I felt sad, or had to face the fact that an innocent being had died.  Dolphins love to dance - of all the creatures in the sea, that's their mark.  Asking nothing from us, they cavort in the waves while we marvel.  They race ahead of ships, not to get there first but to tell us, 'It's all meant to be play.  Keep to your course, but dance while you do it.'

"So there I was, in the middle of rehearsal, and I thought, 'They're killing a dance.'  And then it seemd only right to stop.  I can't keep the dance from being killed, but at least I can pause in memory, as one dancer to another.  Does that make any sense?"

Her eyes were tender.  "Sure, in its way.  Probably we'll wait years before everyone agrees on how to solve this thing.  So many interests are involved.  But it's too frustrating waiting for improvements tomorrow.  Your heart wanted to have its say now."

"Yes," I said, pushing the door open for her.  "I just had this feeling, and that's enough for today."

Wise Little Girl

I know a wise little girl who cannot walk.  She is confined to a wheelchair, and she may spend the rest of her life there, since her doctors hold out almost no hope of ever making her paralyzed legs better.

When I first met this little girl, she flashed me a smile that burned me with its blazing happiness.  How open she was!  She wasn't hiding out from self-pity or asking for approval or protecting herself from a sense of shame.  She felt completely innocent about not being able to walk, like a puppy that has no idea if it is a mongrel or a champion of the breed.

She made no judgements about herself.  That was her wisdom.

I have seen the same wise look in other children, "poor" children as society sees them, because they lack food, money, secure homes, or healthy bodies.  By the time they reach a certain age, many of these children grasp just how bad their situation is.  The way that adults look at their lives robs them of that first innocence that is so precious and rare.  They begin to believe that they should feel bad about themselves; that this is "right."

But this wise little girl, being only four, floated above pity and shame like a carefree sparrow.  She took my heart in her hands and made it as weightless as a cotton putt, so that it was impossible for me to even begin to think, "What a terrible thing."  All I saw was light and love.  In their innocence, very young children know themselves to be light and love.  If we will allow them, they can teach us to see ourselves the same way.

One sparkle from a little girl's gaze contains the same knowledge that Nature implants at the heart of every life-form.  It is life's silent secret, not to be put into words.  It just knows.  It knows peace and how not to hurt.  It knows that even the least breath is a gesture of gratitude to the Creator.  It smiles to be alive, waiting patiently for ages of ignorance and sorrow to pass away like a mirage.

I see this knowledge itself in the eyes of children more and more, which makes me think that their innocence is growing stronger.  They are going to disarm us adults, and that will be enough to disarm the world.  They feel no reason to spoil the environment, and so the environment will be cleaned up without a quarrel.  A wise little girl told me the future when she looked at me, so full of peace and contentment.  I rejoice in trusting her above all the experts.  As light and love drive away our guilt and shame, her prophecy must come true.

Dance of Life

I cannot escape the moon.  Its soft beams push aside the curtains at night.  I don't even have to see it, a cool blue energy falls across my bed and I am up.  I race down the dark hall and swing open the door, not to leave home but to go back to it.  "Moon, I'm here!"  I shout.

"Good," she replies.  "Now give us a little dance."

But my body has started moving long before she says anything.  When did it start?  I can't remember.  My body has always been moving.  Since childhood I have reacted to the moon this way, as her favorite lunatic, and not just hers.  The stars draw me near, close enough so that I can see through their twinkling act.  They're dancing, too, doing a soft molecular jiggle that makes my carbon atoms jump in time.

With my arms flung wide, I head for the sea, which brings out another dance in me.  Moon dancing is slow inside, and soft as blue shadows on the lawn.  When the surf booms, I hear the heart of the earth, and my tempo picks up.  I feel the dolphins leap in the white foam, trying to fly, and almost flying when the waves curl up high to the heavens.  Their tails leave arcs of light as plankton glow in the waves.  A school of minnows rises up, flashing silver in the moonlight like a new constellation.

"Ah!" the sea says.  "Now we're gathering a crowd."

I run along the beach, catching waves with one foot and dodging them with the other.  I hear faint popping sounds, a hundred panicky sand crabs are ducking into their holes, just in case.  But I'm racing now, sometimes on my toes, sometimes running flat-out.

I throw my head back and a swirling nebula says, "Fast now, twirl!"

Grinning, ducking my head for balance, I start to spin as wildly as I can.  This is my favorite dance, because it contains a secret.  The faster I twirl, the more I am still inside.  My dance is all motion without, all silence within.  As much as I love to make music, it's the unheard music that never dies.  And silence is my real dance, though it never moves.  It stands aside, my choreographer of grace, and blesses each finger and toe.

I have forgotten the moon now and the sea and the dolphins, but I am in their joy more than ever.  As far away as a star, as near as a grain of sand, the presence rises, shimmering with light.  I could be in it forever, it is so loving and earm.  But touch it once, and light shoots forth from the stillness.  It quivers and thrills me, and I know my fate is to show others that this silence, this light, this blessing is my dance.  I take this gift only to give it again.

"Quick, give!" says the light.

As never before, I try to obey, inventing new steps, new gestures of joy.  All at once I sense where I am, running back up the hill.  The light in my bedroom is still on.  Seeing it brings me back down.  I begin to feel my pounding heart, the drowsiness in my arms, the warm blood in my legs.  My cells want to dance slower.  "Can we walk a little?" they ask.  "It's been kind of wild."

"Sure."  I laugh, slowing to an easy amble.

I turn the doorknob, panting lightly, glad to be tired.  Crawling back into bed, I remember something that I always wonder at.  They say that some of the stars that we see overhead aren't really there.  Their light takes millions of years to reach us, and all we are doing is looking into the past, into a bygone moment when those stars could still shine.

"So what does a star do after it quits shining?"  I ask myself.  "Maybe it dies."

"Oh no," a voice in my head says.  "A star can never die.  It just turns into a smile and melts back into the cosmic music, the dance of life."  I like that thought, the last one I have before my eyes close.  With a smile, I melt back into the music myself.

A collection of poems and essays from "Dancing the Dream, Poems and Reflections by Michael Jackson"
"So what does a star do after it quits shining?"  I ask myself.  "Maybe it dies."

"Oh no," a voice in my head says.  "A star can never die.  It just turns into a smile and melts back into the cosmic music, the dance of life."  I like that thought, the last one I have before my eyes close.  With a smile, I melt back into the music myself.