[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/HEALTH/06/25/michael.jackson.heart.health/art.jackson.2005.gi.jpg caption="As a young boy, Michael Jackson writes he wished for nothing else but 'to be a normal little boy.'"]
Program Note: This story originally was published on Beliefnet in December, 2000. For a closer look into Michael Jackson's faith, tune in to AC360° live from Los Angeles tonight at 10p ET.
"Have you seen my childhood?
I'm searching for that wonder in my youth
Like pirates in adventurous dreams,
Of conquest and kings on the throne…"
Written and Composed by Michael Jackson
When people see the television appearances I made when I was a little boy–8 or 9 years old and just starting off my lifelong music career–they see a little boy with a big smile. They assume that this little boy is smiling because he is joyous, that he is singing his heart out because he is happy, and that he is dancing with an energy that never quits because he is carefree.
But while singing and dancing were, and undoubtedly remain, some of my greatest joys, at that time what I wanted more than anything else were the two things that make childhood the most wondrous years of life, namely, playtime and a feeling of freedom. The public at large has yet to really understand the pressures of childhood celebrity, which, while exciting, always exacts a very heavy price.
More than anything, I wished to be a normal little boy. I wanted to build tree houses and go to roller-skating parties. But very early on, this became impossible. I had to accept that my childhood would be different than most others. But that's what always made me wonder what an ordinary childhood would be like.
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