Today, is a very happy day for me. And a thought-provoking day.
About five years ago, I attended a poetry slam in Vermillion, South Dakota as part of an extra credit assignment for my University-level English class. At that event, I saw a poet named Cody Winger perform his remarkable poem “Faceless.” You should watch that (this recording–the only one I can find–was taken later that year).
I had never seen anything like it.
Cody told the crowd he was living out of a van, on tour doing this thing called “slam poetry” all around the country. He was a part of a team called WordSmoke, him and his whole story inspired me. He was a kind of deep motivation that I didn’t even know I was looking for. He was on this strange adventure using words as a reason to go somewhere new. Do something new. Meet new people. And, perhaps most importantly to me, to move people. To impact their lives.
That night, I went for a three hour walk with my oldest friend Jason. We talked about how we felt different and important, but how we didn’t think anybody expected too much out of us. Sure, our parents wanted us to succeed and find great, Godly women to marry and get good jobs and all of that. But we felt, as Jason phrased to me so well–bigger than those things. I was still learning what it meant to feel bigger than we actually are. I know now, much better than I knew then, that this big feeling is the realist part of the human experience. It’s my soul. It’s Jason’s soul. It’s your soul. It’s our soul. And it is important. More important than accomplishments and accolades, it is, in fact, everything.
After that walk-and-talk with Jason, I went back to my basement apartment, at a house I was sharing with four of my best friends (Jason included) and wrote Push. A poem that has, for all its intents and purposes, done much more than I could have ever imagined.
The next month at the Vermillion poetry slam, to a standing-room-only-crowd crammed into a tiny coffee shop I performed a rather vaguely memorized version of Push. Afterwards I lost count of how many of that crowd stopped me to tell me thank you. That they “needed it.”
The response to that poem, a poem that is really a naive but true message about the importance and value I found (and find) in myself, has changed my life. “Push” has taken on a life of its own (and I’m not just saying that because I’m a poet and I can personify things if I’d darn-well like). It has become, sort of, an anthem for people all around the world that wanted to believe that they too were important and valuable and capable of great things. I still believe that. That people are important and valuable and capable of so much more than anyone is ever going to ask of them.
I believe not only in our capability, but in God’s also, to do something truly great with us.
Today, a video recording that I made of that poem about four years ago surpassed the 100,000 view mark. I think in the current state of the internet it’s easy to take that number for granted. 100,000 isn’t much compared to the millions of views on countless videos. But 100,000 views is the equivalent of over 300 days of solid watch-time. Or better, if I met one person every day for the next 50 years I would only meet a mere, 18,000 people–less than a fifth of those who have viewed my poem and, presumably, been positively impacted by it.
I can’t understand how big that is. I guess, I did have something bigger than me to offer the world after all. Isn’t it incredible the victories that God will give us when we love each other?
If you’ve watched push, here, at the end of a message is where you might expect me to say, “Go get ’em, Tiger!” Or to share some other inspiring and encouraging words. I have none of those today, I just want to say thank you. To anyone who may find this little blog post, to anyone who has watched Push, and in doing-so, pushed me back. Encouraged me back. To those who believe in me and in themselves and in real magic–thank you.
For the next five days, to celebrate the success of “Push” I’m running a giveaway on Amazon.com. Starting at midnight tonight (or early morning August 14th) an eBook version of Oh, Sleepur! will be available. Push is on page 37.
Thanks again, I love you all.
How about that hair, eh?