08/13/13

“Push” (5 Years Later)

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?

03/11/13

Push

0901121613
This is for the soul searchers
This is for the song writer who feels like who he is doesn’t fill the space
of who he was meant to be.

This is for the depressed cigarette smoking chain smokers.
This is for the poet who writes a thousand lines and keeps them all to
herself, because nobody else deserves to hear them.
This is to fight the starless sky of every midnight wanderer who looks up
wondering, cause if there were more like you the night time streets wouldn’t be so empty.
This is for the traveler who never got a chance and lies below a rock with
his name.
I don’t even know if I’m old enough to say it, but it’s for the generations
of baby boomers of old women and men whose ideas and values are shushed by an obnoxious generation.
This is for the wedding planners whose weddings never seem to come.
This is for the beautiful girls that somebody told otherwise.
This is for the 15 year old gang member who can’t leave.
This is for the second place finishers and the C students.
This is for the guitar strings never threaded and the scripts never
written and the thrill voices that never cried hallelujah because they didn’t believe they could.
This is for the incapable,
Because you and me both are incapable.
This is so you can look at me differently like I was an amputee.
And what I’ve had cut away was my expectations.
I was supposed to be huge—
I was supposed to be the first rose ever planted in the desert—
I was supposed to be the first paint on the ceiling in the Sistine chapel—
I was supposed to be either Axel Rose or Frodo Baggins, and whether
you’re cool or not you understand that line.
I was supposed to be the first pope with a full body tattoo—
I was supposed to be Neil Armstrong—
I was supposed to be the first life on another planet—
I was supposed to be bleeding iron and nails—
If you saw me as I was supposed to be the contrast between me and the
rest of the world would be unbearable, but I’m incapable.
‘Cause nobody ever pushed me,
Nobody ever pushed me,
Nobody ever pushed me and said:
Be something bigger,
Be something bigger,
Be something!

Nobody ever told me I had the power to leave a hole when I withdraw
my hand from water or move a crowd with mere words or play notes on a piano like bullets to your eardrums.
And in all of this, I wonder if the big things know how important they
are, because I’m a mustard seed and nobody expects me to move a mountain,
Or even cover its slopes in yellow.
But I still feel vastly important, so what then?
So this is my push, my push that you may never get from another person, ever. So, listen carefully:

I EXPECT A LOT OUT OF YOU.

Don’t be discouraged when you can’t cross one line, ‘cause you’ll pass a
hundred others learning you can’t go over one.
This is a dare: go to your fridge and get out all your eggs and put them in
one basket and tell me if you’re still incapable.
And if you are, go back to your fridge and get all your egg based
products, ‘cause you missed them, you missed them and you need them and the neighbors not lending any ingredients.
And when you get there, wherever it is that I pushed you to, don’t worry
about telling me—
Cause I
Will notice
And most of all remember that if you’ve been pushed, if you’ve really
been pushed, you’ll be dearly missed when you’re gone.