By: Krystal Luster
It’s 9:30 P.M. and I’m up listening to Macy Gray’s “The Sellout” album wondering how in the world should I begin. Well, what better place than the beginning right? I recently read “Inside a Thug’s Heart”; a book of the late Tupac Shakur and his then “pen pal” Angela Ardis’ letters and poems written to one another during his incarceration in the mid 90s. Tupac is famous and remembered by his lyricism and challenging nature while Angela (or to reference the book, “Ms. Lovely”), has made her mark as an actress, author, screenwriter and model. The two came from different walks of life but both found something in each other to make their friendship unique.
A family member suggested I read the book after having discussed some key points about Tupac and I became curious to learn another side to his story. When I got the book I looked at the title first, and then glanced at the cover art. I almost looked away but something mysterious caught my attention and I couldn’t unlock my gaze. It was his eyes. I stared into them and saw a man I felt had more to say than what was said, a man of depth, knowledge and inner beauty. My heart sunk. How could I feel so connected in this short moment? What was it about those eyes that captivated my soul? Whatever it was, I had to find out.
Funny thing is, I’ve never been fan of Tupac or his music; aside from his more popular songs and a few shirtless pictures let alone paid much attention to the hype that surrounded his life or death. Sure I heard about his murder and the case that seemed to go nowhere but back to square one. I was aware of the inspiration within his music to millions, if not billions of fans around the world and knew of the speculation concerning his death being faked. Still, I never found a solid interest. So why was my curiosity sparked now? What difference would it make?
I pondered many things before actually starting “Inside a Thug’s Heart”. Too many to name in fact but later that night, I took a deep breath and ran my fingers across the cover. I felt somewhat guilty for wanting to read about something so personal. A book of letters and dedicated poems never meant for me were at my fingertips. I felt guilty more so because I knew nothing about this man or the things he stood for in life and even though I finished, I’m still not sure.
I read all night even into the wee hours of the morning. Only stopping briefly to update my facebook status and chat with a friend or two, then it was right back to business. Sleep was never a factor and I swear I sat in the same position for a good 3 hours. I don’t know why but nothing seemed to matter while I read. Each chapter put a new perspective in the way I thought about my choices, my character, and my opinion. I don’t know if it was because I was dealing with some personal issues along the same lines as their story that kept my interest or if it was just because I had nothing better to do. I’ve always been a lover of words in any form and I find it easier to express my thoughts verbally rather than speaking aloud but that’s another story.
What stood out the most was their overall realness and open-mindedness with each other despite being complete strangers. It shocked me and got me thinking about fate. All types of people are put into our lives for different reasons whether they’re related or not. I lost my only child 3 years ago and still question why I was even given the blessing if I was to only have him for a short while. This is a question I will most likely never understand but through my loss I’ve gained wisdom and strength. You would never know the pain I endured just by looking at me, just like I will never know the man the media didn’t portray. But by reading this book I feel I know the most important part that regardless of our short comings or positive and negative influences, we’re still human. And as humans we have feelings not everyone can relate to. When you find someone you can confide in honestly with no strings attached it’s a sigh of relief. No one should keep their emotions locked up, good or bad. Learn to laugh, shed a few tears every now and then, be thankful for making it this far.
Life is funny and sad all at the same time and there are lessons to learn in the choices we make and the choices of friends, enemies and family. No matter who decides what, we are all affected. There’s a valuable lesson in “Inside a Thug’s Heart”, a lesson that will sure to stick with me until I’ve learned it and teach it to others. I was wrong about Tupac and I wish I had taken the time to dig a little deeper but that isn’t the way it was meant to happen. Just goes to show you that you really can’t judge a book by its cover and in order to find the real story you have to look beyond the surface.
Krystal Luster is a talented, young up and coming poet/writer from Indianapolis, Indiana. She can be contacted for business purposes at
firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @Symptom_Unknown