The movies that left me reeling for countless hours afterwards were usually the ones that didn't blatantly make sense or end how I wanted them to. You know, the films when the guy and girl actually don't end up together, leaving you completely distressed and confused, even while knowing that in real life, oftentimes the guy and the girl who love each other actually do not end up together.
Perhaps it is a darkly intuitive movie from the mind of Jordan Peele in which you chuckle to calm the fear of looking in the mirror afterwards, or looking around at your fellow humans. Perhaps what really makes us ruminate is the loss of control over how things should be, in a perfect world. What deeply unsettles us is this helpless, deep hurt caused by what we perceive to be a great cosmic injustice.
The first time I saw these two words together, “cosmic injustice,” I was shook to my core. The experience was tangible, visceral and insidious. Naturally, I was reading some piece of genius scribed by Ta-Nehisi Coates and vowed never to forget the impact of the placement of these two words together. Every pain in the world made sense with eerie clarity. The kind of sense that hits you at 5:38 a.m., when most of the earth is asleep on a chilly spring morning and you are examining the coldest juxtapositions of this existence. A chorus of birds merrily chirp in nearby trees and you lay uncomfortably awake in a dark room, grieving someone you did not know, but knew all too well. A part of you is frightened at the thought of your own mortality and the surprise that will be your own demise. A part of you wonders if the sun will ever rise again while desperately awaiting its supernatural consistency. Perhaps you originally got up to use the restroom, but it was really because your soul could not rest. So you get on Twitter, duh. (Or Facebook or Instagram.) And as you are scrolling, you are halted in your tracks by another headline or video or picture of Nipsey Hussle.
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Nipsey looks back at you. You stare into his big soft eyes and know his mind is heavy with the treasures that perpetually burden a liberated mind, because you are carrying a few chests of your own. You mourn the glint that is irrevocably no longer there. There is a pit in your stomach that aches, but not as much as the first day you mourned. It's different now. You've started to accept death and you are somewhere between angry and sad that such a beautiful man, both physically and soulfully, is gone from earth. He has many labels and he is all of them at once.
His facial expression, accentuated by his prolific tattoos and trimmed, bushy black beard, is art, reflecting motivation against the blur of heavenly green-yellow foliage in the background of the photo. He is wearing a red and white striped shirt. He strikes you as both simple and complex in a way that makes perfect sense. There is an undeniable mood and ambiance created by his energy. He is the essence of "Poetic Justice." I hear Kendrick Lamar playing in the background because I've never heard the muse’s songs. They are of the same fiber.
I hurriedly scroll past the grief and stumble upon him again, this time behind J. Cole who is sitting on a star-lit stage underneath the evening sky at his first Dreamville Festival. Footage plays behind Jermaine on a big screen as a gentle heart-warmth engendered by “Love Yourz” honors a light extinguished too soon. In the video, a glimpse is caught of a red-carpet-fresh Nipsey Hussle clothed in a crisp black tuxedo and bow tie as he gazes lovingly down at his daughter. Then, a glimpse of Nipsey and a smiling Lauren London fades from the screen and segues into an undoubtedly passionate interview clip, Nipsey wearing a red hoodie with hands gesturing determinedly as he speaks words that we instinctively know are enlightening. It is not quite 6:00 a.m. yet.
Maybe five or 15 minutes later as I'm still processing the power of J. Cole’s tribute, a single tear falls from my eyes. Literally, a single tear. It struggled its way out like a caterpillar then hotly slid down my left cheek. It feels like I've been grieving for at least a week now, but I have lost track of the days. A shroud of sadness came over me and never left.
What deeply unsettles us is this helpless, deep hurt caused by what we perceive to be a great cosmic injustice.
Perceive. Perception is everything.
Thankfully I’m a thugged-out therapist and can pull out my grief counseling toolbox to help me process. I am going to have to positively reframe this or the cosmic injustice is going to have me stuck in this dark place for a while.
My faith keeps me anchored, so I remind myself that God does not make mistakes. I pull out some more of my faves. Everything works together for our good. (I'm getting there. A little closer to solace.) This hurts because the world lost a good man. A good man with the ambiguous and token “bad” past that is an unexpected consequence of street life. A good man with the sage outlook of deeming “strong enemies” a “blessing.” A genuine spirit that jilted the world with its exit. A strong, loyal sense of community. A community-builder. An artist. A creative. An entrepreneur. A philanthropist. This is not how things should be. This is not how things should have ended.
It is too cruel. It is too ruthless for such a kind, giving soul whose shortcomings are both invisible and negligible in comparison to the greatness of his redemptive works. It is too inconsiderate of how the laws of the universe should function! When you do good, you receive good, right!? It is a cosmic injustice. Or is it cosmic justice due to life not being fair to anybody? Does cosmic injustice exist when we choose for everything to work together for our good?
My stream of consciousness shifts gears as I contemplate the impact of Nipsey’s departure that I, we, cannot help but feel is untimely. I wonder if he knew his impact. The impact he had and would have. I wonder if he knew that he was a world changer? I wonder what differentiates a life and a legacy, and what is happening in the spaces in between, before and after. I wonder if he suspected that he would be memorialized on the grandest graffiti walls across the nation amongst the other legends. I wonder if he fully grasped that his revolutionary mindset and actions were legendary. And that we would not fully know it or understand it until he was gone. I wonder if he knew that people who had never heard a song of his would be so fundamentally changed by knowing he had existed, and not a minute before he did not. Altered. Transformed. Awakened. Reignited.
Tragically slain despite propelling major gains for the disenfranchised. The ultimate rise of the underdog journey, an incredible marathon, abruptly brought to an end with the race unfinished. The beauty of poetry is that everything is subjective. What is a marathon exactly? What is finished? What is death? In obligatory intellectual fashion, I become curious about the connotation, denotation, and etymology of the word “marathon.”
I research it and let out a sigh of relief upon reading the third Urban Dictionary definition, which includes a Greek anecdote about Pheidippides and the inspiration behind what would become the modern sporting event, the marathon race. I do not know much about Pheidippides or the veracity of this story, but I stop there, satisfied. I have successfully soothed my emotions by unlocking a mystery to contentment, for now. Nipsey was a message carrier, and he delivered it.
Smiling to myself, I pick up the baton in my fingertips and fondly inspect it, turning it over and subconsciously twirling it while wondering what it is made of. The marathon continues.