Michael vs God
My reason for writing this is to illustrate how fragile our humanity is and how everyone carries a multidimensional story that connects us. I intend to be as empathetic and as pure of heart as possible with my words.
My journey began when I was using Instagram last week. I came across a picture of Michael Hutchence in my search feed. I grew up listening to and watching INXS on Canada’s version of MTV, MuchMusic. I was nineteen when Michael ended his life. I vaguely remember the story in the media. I also remember when Paula Yates died, but I did not know who she was until I connected her to Bob Geldof. I honestly have to say, I paid little attention to this story at the time, but once I saw his image on Instagram, I descended down the rabbit hole that is the story of Michael Hutchence.
I read short articles about him and Paula Yates, and I watched various interviews with Michael, his band, and his infamous interview with Paula on The Big Breakfast. I also watched multiple interviews with Paula and Bob Geldof’s interview on 60 Minutes. Then my focus turned solely to Michael. Perhaps his magnetic personality and talent as a performer drew me in, but I was interested in knowing more, so I dug deeper. I realized that he was a extraordinarily complex man and a profoundly fragile human being whose soul slowly deteriorated over time.
One of the things that moved me about Michael was the video of his last rehearsal with INXS the day before he died. The look in his eyes, the posturing of his body, and the absolute exhaustion displayed on his face were right in plain view. It was gut-wrenchingly apparent that he was not well and deeply pained. I kept asking myself repeatedly, did anyone notice he was embarking on a downward spiral and offer to help? Did he refuse? Did his unhappiness with the direction of INXS or the changes occurring in his life create distance? Did he feel alienated by his friends due to Paula?
I can imagine what it must have been like for Michael to socialize amongst all the people in the music industry who knew Bob. I mean, Michael made his bed. He had an affair with a married woman, Bob Geldof’s wife and life partner. He must have known there was going to be hell to pay. Perhaps he was naïve to the unforgiving society we all live in, but how much did he truly pay for loving Paula?
I discovered things about Michael that made me more interested in who he was and less interested in the drama that surrounded him before his death. He was well-traveled, well-read, and maintained a calmness about him when he spoke that was almost hypnotizing. Many of his friends and romantic partners recalled that he would look you in the eyes when he talked to you without distraction. He would take the time to listen. I don’t know about you, but I have met many people in my life, and there are very few people that can hold their gaze and show genuine interest in others.
Michael thought of himself as an artist according to those who knew him. He was shy, sensitive, and managed to balance his soul’s masculine and feminine energy with confidence. As mentioned by others before, Michael was a man before his time. I think he was a man who defied time.
Michael had a complex nature and the ability to blur the lines of gender yet remain so well seated in his masculinity. He must have been a threatening presence in our profoundly insecure society. I think Michael’s strengths, combined with his vulnerabilities, made it easy for the public to vilify him. He was a Renaissance man of sorts, a dreamer, a poet, a true artist, and a deep thinker. We lost a unique and timeless soul.
It was painful to watch this man unraveling before my eyes, but I kept watching and listening. I wanted to see how deep it all went. Something in me wants to reach for him, out into the ether, and cure his demons. What beauty we have lost. Michael is more than a unique soul that once lived on this earth in human form. He is a symbol of all that we are capable of being and all that we must heal in our society: addictions that mask our vulnerabilities, ravenous and unrelenting media scrutiny of people in the public eye, our vanity, our unhealthy impulses, and our insatiable need for affection and love in an unforgiving and often selfish world of materialism and greed.
We can only hold our pain for so long before it spills over into a living hell. We have no choice but to release it. We cannot expect others to notice it without asking for the help we so desperately need. Pride, shame, and anger are powerful emotions. They rob us of our ability to care for ourselves and let others know we are hurting. The only thing we can do is transcend those feelings by pushing ourselves through humility and pain. There is forgiveness on the other side if we ask for it. I wish Michael would have known that he could have asked for what he needed.
I think about how he died naked, suspended from a snakeskin leather belt behind his hotel room door. There is something almost biblical about this image in my mind. Paula mentioned that he had dignity. She could not understand why he would die naked and without a formal suicide note. Perhaps this was a message to say, I am ashamed. Look at me in my humility. Here I am naked and exposed for the world to see. I am ashamed to be human, in the flesh. Michael, the fallen angel. Michael, the sacrificial lamb. Michael’s demise says something about us as human beings and as a society. Why do souls such as his have to die for us to see it? He deserved love and compassion. We all deserve love and forgiveness.
I cannot verify that this was the last thing Michael Hutchence wrote before he died, but he wrote it. I will leave it with you:
Wouldn’t be right
To take it
Wouldn’t be right
Sick of the dogs
Outside my window
Take a look
With a hook
Stuck into me
Look at the mess
Look at the mess
Across your face
All this bitterness
Has started showing
No one hears
Just another heart
Too scared to bleed
Gave you some time
To feel it
Tangled you up
In flesh and blood
Just too scared
Of where it takes you
Blue to red
In your head
(Michael Hutchence’s lyrics cited from the documentary film “Michael Hutchence: The Last Rockstar” — 2017)