'My Life' At 15: 'Be Happy'

Mary J. Blige's "Be Happy" was the upbeat first single from My Life to the rest of the world of people who hadn't taken the time to delve into this overwrought, thickened with emotion of an album. To outsiders, Mary was on top of a building, arms outstretched, beckoning The Creator to enter her vessel of a body and deliver her from the pain she vaguely referred to. The video was all blonde Florence Henderson hair, shiny bubble jackets, Hip Hop dancers and smiling faces. But to those who had taken the time to get to this point of the album--the termination--needed a song like this one to prevent us from all wanting to take a proverbial leap off the building that Mary was perched on top of, waiting for blessings to be bestowed upon her.

"Be Happy" was really no different than other songs from this album. It too contained a wish to improve oneself in the face of diminished self-esteem just like "I'm The Only Woman" did earlier on My Life. But just because you put a smile and a beat you can dance to on the face of this track doesn't mean that you're happy. Mary may have fought the good fight and convinced some of us that she really was happy, but Mary was someone we knew like a play cousin. She wanted to be happy. She wanted us to be happy despite her hurting. That is called selflessness. And that is ultimately why we love her so. Because Mary is always willing to channel her own pain to take us away from ours. We may still be bopping along whenever this is played but the undercurrent of shame and disappointment is still ever so palpable. As long as we are willing to forgive and never forget, we'll be able to progress from such dark places. Thank you, Mary, for not being afraid to show us that this path may be long and winding but it always, invariably ends. 

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