Saturday, December 4, 2010

A review of the book "ME" by Ricky Martin

Ricky Martin's life is beyond extraordinary and although most would think he's at a young age for writing a memoir you'll for sure agree that the pages that fill this book have much in them that needs to be shared. The timing for Ricky is perfect. He's at a place where he really knows who he is and with fears buried he opens up and bares it all for the world to read and in his words. This is more then a memoir; it's a spiritual journey. Anyone who has ever taken the time to question their purpose in life will for sure understand Martin's quest for the truth and his journey to find self acceptance. Many people will never take that path because it is layered with so much fear. Martin says this fear was all in his own head. Martin is truly courageous as he not only gives details of his journey with all the facts but also describes them with words that come straight from his heart. There's so much authenticity here that as you read the pages you'll realize that this is not just a story of a mega super star. It is a revelation of his inner world beginning with all his initial struggles. As he opens his doors to his deeper side he welcomes you to experience how his journey has brought him to his present state of peace, humility and love. You can't help but wish you could feel the same way. And as Martin is a living expression of his passions, this book is written no differently. "Passion is a vital aspect of my existence. I consider myself to be a realistic dreamer, and my life is full of intense emotions. I live and feel deeply."

You'll learn that Ricky is honorable, soulful, driven, courageous, analytical, simple, generous, and most importantly a humanitarian. You'll get to see and understand the backstage side of him. We've watched him shake his hips, sing his hits and seduce us into his sounds. However, this book will take you into his spiritual journey and allow you to experience it with him. I see Martin now as not just a performer, actor and singer but also a spiritual teacher and leader who's mission on this planet is far greater then producing number one hits and selling records. This man is here to serve in a capacity far greater then perhaps he himself has ever realized.

With music as his primary focus early in his career, Martin was not an over night success. In 1999 he created a Latin storm with his infamous performance of “The Cup of Life” at the Grammy Awards, the theme song from the World Cup. This single performance got Martin North American attention. He walked away that night with a Grammy in his hands for Best Latin Pop Music Album, for Vuelve and an American audience asking “who is that guy?”. However, since the age of 12 Martin was singing to sold out concerts with the popular band Menudo. Martin may have assisted with the Latin invasion in North America but at that point he had already reached world wide recognition. He had 4 previous albums under his belt and the top charting hit song Maria which in 1996 drove Martin to become a world wide super star.

It's clear in his memoir that Martin felt misunderstood by the media and his fans. He is labeled as a Latin artist however, he’s always been more then that. Indeed fans from all over the world have been able to identify with him and his music. Simply said, Martin sees music as a universal means to bring people together. His music reflects not just Latin influences but also sounds from all over the world appealing to many audiences including different cultures and age groups. The words "Where words fail music speaks" are posted on Martin's Twitter page.

As his career grew Martin allowed himself to become so immersed that his own personal identity became lost. His career was running his life. One day he looked at all the pieces of a broken glass and compared it to his own life. Martin felt shattered because he had given so much of himself but it was time to put the pieces back together. Only it left him with the question of "who am I and what really does all this mean?"

Some of his answers were found in India where in an ashram in Calcutta he discovered stillness and peace though the practices of kriya yoga. But although that allowed him to become grounded in his own body and feel balance in the chaos of literally "livin la vida loca" there still remained a piece of the shattered Ricky that still didn’t seem to fit. And so a courageous Martin continued his search with a deeper question asking “what am I running away from?”

There were many questions before coming to the end of his search. He wanted to know why the driving force which led him into an extremely successful career was now driving him away from it. He wanted to know why he was shying away from the sold out shows filled with the sound of people screaming his name. He wanted to know why he was going to India to discover a deeper meaning in his life. He wanted to know why he felt the need to change the lives of children by giving them hope for a better existence. And finally the answers all came when Martin was able to come to terms with his sexual identity. It was this issue that Martin had been running away from. He then made the following statement on his website: “I am proud to say that I am fortunate homosexual man, I am very blessed to be who I am.”

Speculation of Martin's sexual identity was the subject of rumors for many years. Following an interview in 2000 the rumors escalated as Barbara Walters put not only the question on the table but tried to further force the issue when Martin made it clear that he wasn't ready to talk. The world watched at what seemed like an eternity when Walters put on a pair of punching gloves with her questions turning into an interrogation to force Martin to answer. He was left to defend himself as we watched holding our breaths feeling helpless. At least that's how I felt while I was watching. Today we would refer to Walter’s tactics as bullying. A gracious Martin who doesn't hold any grudges regarding the situation looks back and all he can do is laugh about it. "I stayed firm with my answers-as much as possible-but I remember that my vision went blurry and my heart started to race. I felt like a boxer who had just been hit with a decisive punch-staggering and defensive, but already knocked out, waiting to fall. But I did not fall. I stayed strong The fact is, all I can do is laugh."

Recently Martin and Walters were reunited on the show “The View” where Walters and four other's of the show's host interviewed him with regards to his memoir. Walters sat right next to him throughout the interview only this time she refrained from asking a single question. Walters, one of the worlds leading journalists had nothing to say. This was clearly intentional on her part. The reason for her silence during the live telecast leaves one to wonder the reasoning behind her actions or lack of.

Martin found himself too immersed in his work to worry about the consequences of the interview. Still burying the issue of his sexual identity, Martin boarded a plane at the end of 2000 back to India to help a friend who had opened an orphanage for girls. There he assisted with the rescuing of young girls from the life of prostitution. This experience, though, far from the inner discovery that the practice of yoga brought him on his previous trip, led to a philanthropic mission, the ultimate mission of Martin’s life. ‘People for Children was born’. This project was under the already established ‘Ricky Martin Foundation’. The ‘RMF’ was started to help disabled children in Puerto Rico. ‘People for Children’ defends children who are being exploited or who run the risk of exploitation. This continuously growing foundation currently has partnerships with ‘UNICEF’, ‘Save the Children’, ‘The Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking’, ‘Microsoft’ and others. It made Martin the face of a leader in the war against human trafficking.

Martin’s philanthropic efforts took him to Patong, Thailand in January 2005 in response to the devastating tsunami. With the concern that vulnerable children are often abducted for trafficking during extreme times including earthquakes and floods, Martin along with his organization and a producer from the Oprah Winfrey show set off to Thailand. His intention was to get the message across for people to pay attention of the threat the circumstances were imposing on the most vulnerable. It was during this time Martin met the youngest survivor of the tsunami, Baby Wave, who was found floating on a mattress just days old with only a note asking for someone to care for the infant. This event not only brought hope in the form of a miracle, but it sparked Martin to seek a greater fulfillment in his life. That being fatherhood.

Determined to make his desire a reality, and at the time a single man, Martin opted for surrogacy. Today Martin is the father of twin boys Matteo and Valentino. Having always led an unconventional life, his new family life would be no different. Martin serves as both mother and father to his twin boys and he is prepared for the moment when one day his sons may ask why they do not have a mother. He states that he will tell them “I wanted to have you so very badly that, with God’s help, everything lined up so that you would come into my life.”

Martin’s memoir displays a new sense of transparency and freedom in his life. His words are refreshing and define a deeper awareness in the way he views his life. Parenthood has brought him greater authenticity in the way he chooses to live, both for himself and for his children. His connection to himself by coming to terms with his sexuality seems far greater then any yoga practice or trip to India could have brought. Martin proves that the real journey in our lives is the one that lies within us. That is if you are courageous enough to go there.

If you are looking for inspiration, if you are looking to find a deeper meaning in your life and if you are looking to learn from a great teacher I suggest you pick up this book. I congratulate Ricky Martin on such an accomplishment. I feel he is at point of rebirth at this time which means he has only really begun.

Picture of Ricky Martin published with permission of Celebra a Division of Peguin Group