Soul Powered Internally Raging Intensely Triumphant
The first time I heard these words, I was having a particularly bad day, which was a common occurrence for me. My relationship with my parents, unfortunately, wasn’t the best, so fights happened pretty frequently. The topic of this particular fight was dealing with my future and what I was going to do with my life. Y’know, the standard “you’re wasting your life” sort of thing you might hear from parents at some point. But in truth, I had no idea what the hell I even wanted to do because I wasn’t really given a chance to explore much of what I was interested in. Even back then, thoughts and feelings of giving up surfaced, but then…
“You gotta keep your SPIRIT up, sis.”
Believe me, I’m trying!
“Do you know the true meaning of SPIRIT?”
What? What do you mean, man?
“SOUL POWERED INTERNALLY RAGING INTENSELY TRIUMPHANT”
Speechless. This guy left me completely speechless. He went on about taking those feelings of rage, hopelessness and despair and channeling them into your fuel to propel you forward. Forward towards that sweet, triumphant success that will be celebrated. He will never know this, but those words have saved me many countless times, even now. Especially now.
Who was it that said those words charged with unlimited hope and encouragement? It was none other than the legendary Joshua Jyrell Morrison, or as I and many others affectionately called him, JJ.
Before I met JJ, my life was filled with a whole lot of nothing. 3D Animation, while fascinating and intriguing, just wasn’t for me. Back to square one with trying to figure out what to make of this life. At the time, I was pretty much okay with just coasting by and doing the bare minimum to “get through” life. And of course, who did I happen to meet that put a stop to that mess? Freakin’ Joshua Jyrell Morrison, that’s who! But he wasn’t alone; I met several other amazing folks that I’m forever grateful to know: Tom, Andrew, Nate, Tony, Cam, Amanda, Michelle, Elliot, Mike, Mafro, Andre, Donnell, Alfonzo, and many more… Along with JJ, this group is more than just a group of friends.
They became my family.
Back then, I wasn’t the easiest person to get along with. Coming back to Winston-Salem was not doing my mental health any favors due to feeling like a huge failure that I didn’t make the whole animation career thing work. Along with that, often having the thought of “why bother?,” I didn’t bother to keep up appearances of caring what others thought, so I was extremely blunt with what I felt. It ended up pushing a lot of people away, but of course, it didn’t work on everyone. JJ, along with the Forsyth Tech crew changed that, and it really opened up my world. Every moment spent in that student lounge playing fighting games, card games, watching anime, and just talking about random bullshit… I’ll always treasure those for as long as I live.
How to describe JJ… JJ was like the brightest ray of sunshine I’ve ever seen. Dude had a way of making your day brighter no matter what was going on, let it be through talking about the problem you’re facing while driving to no particular destination, through lame jokes, or his famous bear hugs that seemed to melt the very problem you were discussing. His very smile was a gift to the world, and it made everyone smile back. Even crying babies. Yup, that’s right. That guy was ✨MAGICAL✨. You could also never stay mad at the guy if he did something dumb to get a rise out of you. Like how did he do that shit? I’m telling you: MAGIC.
JJ was probably the most creative person I’ve ever known. He created these OCs centered around the theme of candy. He had the Hershey’s Man, but his most popular one, and the one he was known by, is the Reese’s Man. Costumed in bright orange and yellow, he sang his famous jingle beloved by all:
He became a legend in the North Carolina anime convention scene, as he sang this jingle while handing out Reese’s peanut butter cups. Convention attendees wanted to take pictures with him, and some of them even became long-time friends. People loved the idea of a candy-themed character, and it inspired them to make their own original cosplay featuring their favorite candies, and together with JJ, they formed the Candy Crusaders. If you ask anyone who frequented Animazement, I 100% guarantee you they’ll know about the Reese’s Man.
JJ’s creativity wasn’t limited to being a cosplay icon, but he also had amazing art skills! And he used those skills to constantly gift us art of us in his own style. He would take whatever interest we were really into, and incorporated it into our own character. If you look at the pic above, if you really know me, you can easily tell which one is me! He did this all free of charge when he should’ve honestly charged a bit of cash so he can get more art supplies. I remember scolding him about that, but dude just IGNORED me and gave me MORE ART. The nerve of that guy!! It’s okay though, because I ended up giving him art supplies myself whenever I could to get back at him. Ah yes, sweet revenge!
As he made our characters, he started writing stories for them too. The Wielders of the Sacred Flames pictured above was a tiny snippet of what he had in store. Along with the stories, he came up with very detailed move lists on what the characters would use if they were in a fighting game. I’m sure JJ wanted to try and make his own indie fighting game, because the amount of lore he made was insane… I’m sad that we’ll never get to have it, but just looking at all his art and notes brings a smile to my face, because you can see how much love he poured in to it all. And we got to be in it… it’s touching that he loved us so much that he would feature us in his projects like this. I will forever be grateful.
JJ was also known to be a HUGE snack connoisseur. He would constantly be on the hunt for the latest new limited edition snack, drink or candy that dropped, and filmed his reactions on Facebook:
Dude really loved food, and getting him to try food he hasn’t had before and seeing his reaction in real time was a true delight for many of us!
After a traumatic experience that I went through, I started pushing a lot of people away and not communicating as much, because why would I want to inconvenience friends and loved ones with my issues? My partner is always there for me, which means the whole world to me, but what also touched me is that despite losing touch with some long-time friends, JJ never once gave up on me.
He’d always call me every month to check in on me, to see how I was doing. Kinda wish I answered every single time, but back then, my depression really took a hold of me to an extreme degree that led to not wanting to do much of anything at all. But when I did answer, his words of love and encouragement gave me a lot of hope and energy to keep on going. Again, he’ll never know it, but he honestly saved me so many times from giving up. I’ll always and forever carry that love and encouragement and live on for him. I’ll keep the true meaning of SPIRIT close to me and keep on going.
I could go on talking about all the amazing things that JJ did, enough to fill a book. So I’ll close this by sharing with you all the full and true meaning of SPIRIT through one of the many pieces that JJ wrote. If you’re going through a rough time, I hope these words will help you as much as they helped me.
It is something of incredible magnitude, as well as unlimited potential.
In a world of constant constraint, it is the only thing that is free…
Within every one of us it dwells; the primary source of our lives.
It is the most valuable treasure, yet it is the most overlooked.
We fail to realize how sacred it truly is.
Day in and night out…
We endure constant tests of the mind and body,
Yet one solution is seldom used.
We strive and sacrifice for the answer;
Blind to the fact that the answer lies within us all along.
Take it not for granted; explore it and uncover its secrets.
Cherish it, and relish in all of its entirety.
Protect it from breaking, and strengthen it with faith.
Love it unconditionally, and live it to its fullest.
Know that this one thing is as strong as one makes it out to be;
That it is eternal and waiting to be released.
Do not imprison it; let it soar freely.
Flamboyant and passionate like a phoenix;
Though misunderstood, it stands as the mightiest.
What is it? This thing of immeasurable magnitude?
And why is it so valuable?
With it, you are invulnerable;
Without it, you are nothing.
This… is…your… S.P.I.R.I.T.
Happy birthday, JJ. I love you so very much, my dear brother. Rest easy, king. Long live the Reese’s Man. 🧡💛