Everywhere I travel to I see stores dedicated to the memory of Bob Marley. They have images of his face decking the walls. Red, yellow and green hues illuminate his joyful expression. His profile cackles at us as he peers from behind his immortal fame. His joint is flooded with light by his carefree eyes, full of reckless abandon. I look around at all of the paraphernalia. I totter around and fumble with the novelty bongs that have his face stamped on top. I gaze into his painted yet accurate eyes and see love, sure. But somehow, this becomes a tad tainted by what I know of the man who will continue to possess international acclaim.
Marley’s set of achievements weren’t limited to his records being relatable on a global scale. I haven’t bore witness to the film Marley (2012), but that doesn’t make me impervious to his policy of acceptance and openness. This man is a symbol for racial equality and overall devotion to an attitude beaming with care-free radiance. That is a difficult egalitarian position to ignore. His words strike a simplicity that echoes through the minds of those who will themselves to shut up when their mind yells at them. It is when Bob comes in, there is an automatic relief. “Every little thing, is gonna be alright.” So simple! So genius!
The problem for me is that the man had eleven children to a number of different women. Whilst the primary woman of his life seemingly evolved from caring about this minor detail, I find it difficult to idealise Bob for this reason. That, and, he smoked weed as part of his religion. Whilst I do admit that I have a soft spot for those in search of spiritual enlightenment, I cannot fathom one who has found it giggling and sputtering in a smoked filled room.
Having nought a razor to come upon thou’s head was one epiphany apparently realised for Bob. Dreadlocks and I certainly do not have a problem. Another epiphany-driven belief however, was one that proved to orchestrate catastrophic consequences. When the poor man discovered he had a malignant cancer in his toe, he refused to get it properly treated due to his religious beliefs. The idea that ‘amputation is sinful’ was respected to the utmost on Marley’s account. The decision to not remove his meagre toe was what proved to be fatal. Marley died at 36.
My life aspiration is not to get jaded by the set backs. I want to be a person who takes obstacles in my stride when they strike. I want to retain an innocence that somehow maintains a balance between realism and idealistic aspiration. Having a zest for life is what Marley is loved for and I have utmost respect for a figure that represents that. It is always refreshing to come into acquaintance with people who are intrigued about what is around their cosmic corner. Someone who isn’t weighed down by the realisation that we never experience a huge epiphany of who we are.
The big epiphany is that there is no big epiphany. We scramble around collecting fragments and realise that the joy is found through the art of collecting, not from the art of finishing the collection. Through my confusion of why there is an ongoing Marley worship, I realised what I had done. I had shot the sheriff (sorry, I just had to).
I stopped taking his image so seriously and finally fell victim to the softness of his image. He viewed things simply. He explored life with a freshness and tenacity that only a person who hasn’t experienced life’s hardship could understand. He is innocent. Somehow free of even being condemned for excessive drug-use and symbolic polygamy. That is why everyone loves him.
Or maybe everyone just digs him because he is into reggae. Everybody loves reggae.