Films to Think About: To This Day

To This Day is a “spoken word poem” by Shane Koyczan. Just the producing of this video was phonomenal. Every ‘illustrator’ or ‘designer’ submited their (about) twenty second portion of the audio and it was all put together to make this masterpiece. But that wasn’t all that helped enhance the emotions brought from this poem. The composition of the music matched perfectly with Koyczan’s way of speech.

I don’t consider myself being bullied. Yes, maybe to the slight factor of laughs and embarrassed but nothing that could have affected me emotionally or physically. Can I say that as being lucky or can I say that I’m glad? I’m not so sure. You hear all these stories like Amanda Todd getting bullied but you don’t understand how one can get isolated or how they feel. A lot of people go around saying, “Can you imagine?” I can’t imagine because I don’t know how it feels like to be bullied. I don’t know what it feels like to be bent so. You can’t ask someone to just think about it because that’s not so easy. Like the person I am, I think and if I don’t understand, I forget.

I don’t usually read poems but this, by far, has been the best read. I believe because it’s modern and there aren’t too many hints to address what the topic and the message is. There are a lot of videos and PSAs addressing the issue of bullying but none of them have actually impacted me more than this one and I think that’s because they lacked the emotion and experience. Koyczan seems to know exactly what he’s talking about and I find that brilliant.

When I was a kid,
I used to think that pork chops and karate chops
Were the same thing.
I thought they were both pork chops,
And because my grandmother thought it was cute,
And because they were my favourite,
She let me keep doing it.

Not really a big deal.

One day,
Before I realized fat kids are not designed to climb trees,
I fell out of a tree,
And bruised the right side of my body.

I didn’t want to tell my grandmother about it,
Because I was afraid I’d get in trouble
For playing somewhere that I shouldn’t have been.

A few days later the gym teacher noticed the bruise,
And I got sent to the principal’s office.
From there I was sent to another small room,
With a really nice lady,
Who asked me all kinds of questions
About my life at home.

I saw no reason to lie.
As far as I was concerned,
Life was pretty good,
I told her, “Whenever I’m sad,
my grandmother gives me karate chops”.

This led to a full scale investigation,
And I was removed from the house for three days,
Until they finally decided to ask how I got the bruises.

News of this silly little story quickly spread through the school
and I earned my first nickname,

Pork chop.

To this day,
I hate pork chops.

I’m not the only kid
Who grew up this way.
Surrounded by people who used to say
That rhyme about sticks and stones
As if broken bones
hurt more than the names we got called.
And we got called them all
So we grew up believing no one
Would ever fall in love with us.
That we’d be lonely forever.
That we’d never meet someone
To make us feel like the Sun
Was something they built for us
In their tool shed.
So broken heart strings bled the blues
as we tried to empty ourselves
so we would feel nothing.
Don’t tell me that hurts less than a broken bone,
That an ingrown life
Is something surgeons can cut away.
That there’s no way for it to metastasize.

It does.

She was eight years old,
Our first day of grade three
When she got called ugly.
We both got moved to the back of the class
So we would stop get bombarded by spit balls,
But the school halls were a battleground
Where we found ourselves outnumbered day after wretched day.
We used to stay inside for recess
because outside was worse.
Outside we’d have to rehearse running away
Or learn to stay still like statues giving no clues that we were there.
In grade five they taped a sign to her desk
that read beware of dog.

To this day,
Despite a loving husband,
She doesn’t think she’s beautiful
Because of a birthmark
That takes up a little less than half of her face.
Kids used to say she looks like a wrong answer
That someone tried to erase
But couldn’t quite get the job done.
And they’ll never understand
That she’s raising two kids
Whose definition of beauty
Begins with the word mom
Because they see her heart
Before they see her skin,
That she’s only ever always been amazing.

He
Was a broken branch,
Grafted onto a different family tree,
Adopted.
But not because his parents opted for a different destiny.
He was three when he became a mixed drink
Of one part left alone
And two parts tragedy.
Started therapy in 8th grade,
Had a personality made up of tests and pills,
Lived like the uphills were mountains,
And the downhills were cliffs.
Four fifths suicidal,
A tidal wave of anti depressants,
And an adolescence of being called popper.
One part because of the pills,
And ninety nine parts because of the cruelty.
He tried to kill himself in grade ten
When a kid who still had his mom and dad
Had the audacity to tell him “get over it” as if depression
Is something that can be remedied
By any of the contents found in a first aid kit.

To this day,
He is a stick on TNT lit from both ends,
Could describe to you in detail the way the sky bends
In the moments before it’s about to fall.
And despite an army of friends,
Who all call him an inspiration,
He remains a conversation piece between people
Who can’t understand.
Sometimes becoming drug free
Has less to do with addiction,
And more to do with sanity.

We weren’t the only kids who grew up this way.
To this day,
Kids are still being called names.
The classics were,
Hey, stupid
Hey, spaz.
Seems like each school has an arsenal of names
Getting updated every year.
And if a kid breaks in a school
And no one around chooses to hear,
Do they make a sound?
Are they just the background noise
Of a soundtrack stuck on repeat
When people say things like
Kids can be cruel?
Every school was a big top circus tent
And the pecking order went
From acrobats to lion tamers
From clowns to carnies
All of these were miles ahead of who we were;
We were freaks.
Lobster claw boys and bearded ladies,
Oddities
Juggling depression and loneliness playing solitaire spin the bottle
Trying to kiss the wounded parts of ourselves and heal.
But at night,
While the others slept,
We kept walking the tightrope,
It was practice
And yeah,
Some of us fell.

But I want to tell them
That all of this shit
Is just debris.
Leftover when we finally decide to smash all the things we thought
We used to be.
And if you can’t see anything beautiful about yourself,
Get a better mirror,
Look a little closer,
Stare a little longer,
Because there’s something inside you
That made you keep trying
Despite everyone who told you to quit.
You built a cast around your broken heart
And signed it yourself;
You signed it,
“They were wrong”
Because maybe you didn’t belong to a group or a clique,
Maybe they decided to pick you last for basketball or everything,
Maybe you used to bring bruises and broken teeth
To show and tell but never told,
Because how can you hold your ground,
If everyone around you wants to bury you beneath it?
You have to believe that they were wrong.

They have to be wrong.

Why else would we still be here?
We grew up learning to cheer on the underdog
Because we see ourselves in them
We stem from a root planted in the belief
That we are not what we were called we are not abandoned cars stalled out and sitting empty on a highway.
And if in some way we are,
Don’t worry.
We only got out to walk and get gas.
We are graduating members from the class of
F*ck off we made it.
Not the faded echoes of voices crying out
Names will never hurt me.

Of course
They did.

But our lives will only ever always
Continue to be
A balancing act
That has less to do with pain,
And more to do with beauty.

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3 responses to “Films to Think About: To This Day

  1. His voice is what makes this video this video. His voice is what makes it so moving. You can tell he is feeling what the video is showing. It makes it real. I teared up as I watched it.

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