Tag Archives: Ermias Joseph Asghedom

Finding Inspiration in Nipsey Hussle’s Beautiful Being

12 Apr

Ermias Joseph Asghedom, known as artist, Nipsey Hussle
(Photo credit: staplecenter.com)

As a writer, and creator, I find inspiration in so much that is around me. In people watching, in nature, in the words of others. Lately, this last one is something I’ve truly needed to lean on. And I know not just artists do this. We all look for inspiration, especially when we are trying to achieve something. When we want to lose weight, we look to others who have lost weight as examples, and perhaps, we post inspirational quotes on our refrigerator. I’m not a corporate business person, but I see a lot of references to motivation and goal setting to achieve success, and climb the corporate ladder. I’m no athlete, but we all know the words, Just Do It, and we look to famous athletes to hear their words of inspiration for when we are trying to keep up with our own physical fitness goals, and our young people listen, as they strive to make it in their chosen sport.

I am grateful to be inspired by such a broad range of gifted and wise people that I cross paths with–people who are authentic, and allow themselves to be vulnerable, people who live to share their light with others, and some who don’t even know they are doing so. For the past year or two, I have felt stagnant and stuck and lacking energy in my day-to-day life, including my day work at a hospital, which I do love, but at times feel drained by, and stale in my approach to provide fresh, useful groups, as an Activities Therapist. I have also felt stagnant and stuck, and undisciplined, in my writing life. I have needed inspiration to lift me up out of the muck of lethargy, self-doubt, lack of motivation, and lack of discipline, and intention.

But I have been working on shifting my perspective, to focus on the daily joy I receive when focusing on the human connection at work. There was a patient at the hospital, who lives with schizophrenia, and who had me come see the inspirational quotes taped all over the closet door in their room. This patient is an inspiration on the unit, both to other patients, and staff. The patient considers themselves a philosopher, and always has positive words of wisdom and encouragement to share in the groups I facilitate. The patient has also shared with me how, when struggling with negative or paranoid thoughts, the patient will visualize themself as a battleship, which is “strong, courageous, inpenetrable, and invincible.” I love that the patient has created this self symbol of strength. It awes and inspires me.

I also look to other artists to inspire me to create, to lift me up, help me find the joy and meaning, and sense of purpose in my own life. That’s where Nipsey Hussle, the 33 year-old rap artist and entrepreneur who was murdered on March 31st, came in. Now, I will admit right at the start, I did not really know anything about Nipsey, whose real name was Ermias Joseph Asghedom. Sure, I had heard his name, and knew he was a rapper, and thought, oh that’s funny, he’s naming himself after the comedian that I knew growing up in the 70’s, Nipsey Russell. But, I didn’t know his work as a rap artist, his vision and accomplishments as an entrepreneur, or his beautiful spirit that shone through the words he spoke. His words about how he was choosing to live his life as an authentic human being, who learned to choose love and vulnerability, over anger, and who shared his knowledge of how through economics, he was able to as he said, “wiggle himself out of survival mode.” Nipsey believes this is necessary for anyone living under the pressure of poverty, and an environment where violence is a threat, to even be able to envision, dream, and desire something different for him or herself.

Nipsey had tremendous drive, ambition, and put in real “pound-the-pavement” hard work. He realized the need for an innovative vision of how to work outside the record industry, where he saw how agents and record executives earned the majority of the profits generated by artists. Nipsey taught himself how to be self-made, and wanted to share that with the people in the Crenshaw district in Los Angeles where he grew up. Yet his reach, of course, extended far beyond Crenshaw. When you possess greatness, and a spirit full with love, your reach is universal. Nipsey inspired people around the world with his artistry, but more so with his actions.

He reinvested in his neighborhood, in the young people coming up in South Central, Los Angeles, by buying the strip mall where he first sold his mixtapes as an aspiring teen rapper. He opened up his company, Marathon clothing store, there too. Nipsey was an investor in other neighborhood businesses he knew were important to have in places like Crenshaw. He knew there were people who were just as brilliant and talented as people who lived in more affluent areas, but in Crenshaw Nipsey saw how the forces of oppression and institutional white supremacy, promulgated lack, and a disconnect from resources and opportunities. To address that, Nipsey invested in a co-working space to assist entrepreneurs in developing their businesses, and a STEM lab for youth. Nipsey envisioned the lab could be a feed for Silicon Valley tech giants in the industry, who never before would consider looking to Crenshaw for such talent.

And, it’s not that I just, as a white person, want to love this struggle story of a Black and Eritrean man, who lifted himself up by his bootstraps, or think that as a white girl growing up in Waterbury, Connecticut, I know anything about what it is like to grow up in a neighborhood like Crenshaw. I even had another patient in the hospital tell me one day, a patient living with schizophrenia, who the other patients avoided because while still psychotic, was unkempt, and so their room and the area outside of their room didn’t smell so pleasant. I practiced extra kindness toward the patient because of all this, and one day the patient said to me, “I appreciate you..no one else understands me here.. but, you get me…I’m from the street…I mean, I know you’re not about that life, Miss…you’re a good person, but, thank you..”

The patient was right. I’m not about that life, but I am inspired, and feel connected to something greater than myself when I encounter human beings who are about love, creativity, and who value humanity, and yes, to other humans who are suffering, too. The patient who told me they knew I was not about that life, and like other people who live with torment in their brain which causes them at times to be in great distress, inspires me with their will and courage and strength, much like the other patient’s symbolic battleship-self, to battle against, and simply live with, the symptoms of their illness.

Hopefully, we can all find inspiration from people who we may not share the same life experiences with, who don’t look like us, and who possess their own talents and strengths. Yes, we have our uniqueness, and yet, we are all human beings, with many of the same shared desires and wishes for our lives. For example, my 80 year-old, Brooklyn born, Jewish dad had even heard of Nipsey’s murder, and brought him up to me during a recent phone call. He heard of how Nipsey had given back so much to his community and shared how he thought that was admirable.

I can truly actually imagine the two of them having a conversation about work ethic, since my dad is always talking about that, and expresses dismay at this generation who he believes is too invested in their cell phones, and not enough in working, or showing gratitude to their families. While talking about my daughter in her first year in college, my dad shared with me in that phone call how ” I knew Pop didn’t have any money, so I waited tables so I could pay for my tuition and books at UCONN…” made me think about what Nipsey said in a video I watched of him, where he shared how “my mother worked hard but we didn’t have a lot, so I needed clothes, but my older brother needed clothes first, and I didn’t want to shame her by asking for things, so I got my first job at 11 or 12 so I could buy some of my own clothes for school…”

And, as if that were not enough, in listening to countless interview videos with Nipsey on Youtube this past week, I have found Nipsey’s words as an artist, words I so needed to hear to help continue to move me out of my stagnant, procrastinating, self-doubting, undisciplined phase, as I try to quietly write something in a genre that is new to me, playwriting.

The words of advice that stuck out for me included, to first define who you are as a person and artist, and to not veer from that, to put aside your self-doubt, and, finally, to make a plan and set goals, because if you have a dream, but no map on how to get there, you can’t know where to go, and any thing that comes up, you will let it derail you. These words came right on time for me. And I know these words are said by others, in similar ways, and, yet, goal setting has been especially hard for me for some reason. I remember when I was doing street outreach for homeless adults with mental illness in New York City, I also had to do some case management. I just couldn’t connect with that practical work. I felt like, I can barely manage my own life, how can I tell someone else how to live theirs, how to achieve their goals? I am still a work-in-progress as a dreamer artist striving to connect a plan to the dreams and aspirations I hold.

Some might say we don’t need to put too much weight on what a celebrity says, that instead we need to look within, instead of outside of ourselves, but I say, it is a positive to be inspired by another person’s journey, and there is no right or wrong way, or place, to seek, and soak in inspiration.

While writing this, I just watched some of the live stream of Nipsey’s funeral at the Staple Center in Los Angeles. His mother, Angelique Smith, spoke with a firm calmness, and her words and spirit were described by many on twitter as “divine,” and “descending from our ancestors..” She spoke of how she could be calm because she was already prepared for the acceptance of death, and she spoke of her sadness over the wicked and evil in the world today that our young people have to live in. She spoke of how proud she was of her son. She spoke of how the only way to heal the darkness, is to be the light, to work to change the world. She spoke of how when her mother, Nipsey’s grandmother, called her to tell her something had happened in the shopping center, that she already knew, and that, in fact, as she was answering the call, she was ascending from the ground as she picked up her hairdryer. She said she was in a position of ascension already. And that all of us have to find a way to ascend, too. She said that the legacy of love her mother started, and passed onto her, that she passed onto her son, and he, being in the public eye, passed on to all of us, that we have to water those seeds of love, and let them grow. She said that Nipsey had an aura and energy that gave her power, and that she will miss that, and she said that, like the fairytales she read as a child of a king, a castle, and royalty, and people coming from far away to celebrate and honor the kingdom, and that today’s service was a celebration to honor Ermais’ life.

Nipsey’s older brother, Samiel, gave a tearful eulogy, laced with stories of the kind of gentle sibling rivalry and revelry that feel familiar to all of us. At the same time, the way Samiel spoke of their bond, and his recognition of how special his little brother was, and how much he wanted to support his brother’s vision and work, were beautiful. He recalled at how at age 11, Nipsey brought home a bunch of computer parts and, though Samiel had doubts about Nipsey’s claims about building his own computer, Nipsey taught himself how to do just that, and within a couple of weeks had built a working computer himself, the same computer he would first use to record his own music.

Nipsey’s girlfriend, actress Lauren London, read a touching, loving text she had recently sent to Nipsey about how much he, and their relationship meant to her. She, like Samiel, spoke about her complete awe and yet growing familiarity with how Nipsey researched everything, was completely self-taught in all that he did. She spoke about how he burned sage in their family home in the morning so that their energy would be a good energy, and that they would bring good energy out into the world each day.

Interestingly, I have recently been working on shifting my energy out of stagnation by doing the tiniest things, like driving a different route to work than the one I always take, and making my home environment more of a beautiful, comfortable space to feel at peace, and to be a space I feel clear, and comforted to write in. At work, instead of worrying about not feeling inspired, I focus on the giving and receiving of light that occurs in the human connection between me and the patients we work with, and with my co-workers, and feelings of stagnation fall away. I will continue to listen to and remind myself of Nipsey’s words and energy when I begin to doubt myself as a writer.

I am deeply saddened that Nipsey Hussle lost his life, and in a violent way, at a young age, when he was trying to do so much good in the world. It is a loss for his family, his girlfriend, his child, his fans, Crenshaw, and the world. His legacy will live on, though, and for that, we can all be grateful, and hopefully inspired, to live the values that Nipsey taught us in regards to dedication in the pursuit of one’s passion, giving back in a real way to one’s community, the sharing of how to do these things, how to spread love over hate, how to treat the ones we love, how to change our energy, and spread good energy, so that we can do good and have good come back to us, even when we may feel our battleship is off-kilter.

Here is one of the many videos of a young Nipsey Hussle I watched this week which I found inspiration in:



www.youtube.com, Nipsey Hussle: 7 Secrets To Success, posted by VYBO, October 26, 2017