‘It’s nothin’ Bean. Sometimes I think sad thoughts.’
She didn’t answer. She was lookin’ at the TV. Black guy’s talkin’ to Ed Sullivan… Suddenly my mama’s laughin’ to bust a gut… I turn to look at her-this is the same woman that was cryin’ a second ago?- then turns back to the TV. ‘Who that man, Mama?’
She’s still laughin’. Takes her awhile to catch her breath. “Bill Cosby, son. He’s a comedian.” I look over at this Bill Cosby again. I don’t know what he’s talkin about… but I know whatever it is, it’s got power. ‘That’s what I want to be, Mama. A comedian. Make you laugh like that, maybe you never cry again.’
Now I had some direction. I was going to be a comedian.”
~An excerpt from May You Never Cry Again, by Bernie Mac
We all know what happened next…Or do we?
Unless we be continuously reminded of how Bernie Mac‘s legacy began, we risk losing sight of the profundity of his entire being, which, of course, necessarily includes his life off-stage.
As humans, it requires an insurmountable amount of strength to smile when we are in pain, whether physical, mental, or spiritual. Yet, it requires an inhumane amount of strength to entertain a crowd, procure ratings, and maintain a fan-base through that same pain. That makes Mac superhuman.
Every time I watch Mac perform, I give him a portion of my own personal burdens in exchange for his humor, and, because I suspect that there are countless others that graciously allow Mac to take their pain away, I now, more than ever, wonder whether or not he ever felt weary under the weight of our dependence on him.