Shut Up And Say Something
(I do not own this it belongs to Shane Koyczan!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
The night you were conceived your mum and dad had sex. I’m not telling you something you don’t already know. I’m not telling you that butterflies taste with their feet. It’s fact. Like during World War II, when days apart two German bombs were dropped on the British Museum. The second one passed through the hole made by the first one, but neither bomb exploded. Just like that magical night with your mum and your dad. It’s weird and freakish, but it happened.
We don’t like to think of our parents having sex. It reminds me of the peanut-butter and butter sandwiches my grandma used to make. It’s gross. But over the period of nine months cells divided and grew into something beautiful. For all intents and purposes you were alone in the womb. You may have shared the space with a brother or a sister, but there was no one there to tell you, “this is going to hurt.” And it did, and it does, but it will always be a fond memory for your parents.
See, I’ve known men who chew on tinfoil. They’re put together like machinery, encased in a skin of granite, then chiselled by hard times into a callous. But all of them will tell you, every mechanical part of them breaks down the first moment they see their little son or daughter. To quote every man I’ve ever known who’s had a child, “it changes you.”
And that makes me sad, knowing that I will never know this change, having discovered at an early age; I can never have children. I still work in terms of “awesome time”, which is awesome, but my junk is actually junk. And it forces me to think of my life in a very final way, that I will not continue after I’m gone. So if I should die today, tell the world the things I could never say. As if by saying them now I’ve somehow said them time and time again. As if yesterday was when I could say something to today. That way the world could hear me as loud and as clear as the year the world discovered I was so far before my time, that my time left me behind to remind time that I’m here today to say that maybe this time is mine.
Me and failure? We only ever speak sign language. We have a limited vocabulary, which means we disagree constantly. And this is not to say I’ve never known failure. I’ve taken her on double dates with embarrassment and humility. During dinner we sit silently watching candles melt into sculptures of all the things we’ve never said but always felt. I’ve got a black belt in the martial arts discipline of emotionally retarded. But I’ve seen people open the lid on a can of worms that they use to bait a hook and go fishing for sympathy. So I know I’m not alone in this. I’m not the only one with problems, and my problems are not unique.
So, every time in the moment before I’m about to speak I remind myself to shut up and say something. To bring myself to each conversation armed with mountains carved into pebbles, and the true story of how and why I did it. Let people know that if my socks smell like shit it’s because I’ve been kicking ass all day. I play two-player conversations with total strangers for no other reason than to make them less strange. We exchange stories like trading cards, and are fine with the fact that we’ve always been rookies, and we’ve never gone pro. And I’m fine with the fact that I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. But today, I want to be amazing.
Tomorrow, I want to bring you a piece of paper with the telephone number of a taxi cab company that knows the exact address of my arms, so the day you need a hug I’m going to be there for that. Hear what you have to say without waiting for my turn to speak, let you fall asleep for no other reason than to remind you it’s good to be tired. It only means you’re practicing for another dream. And we’ve got to practice. This is the reason snooze-buttons were invented. The reason we wake up and say “five more minutes”. A dream is a rehab center for insomniacs. I take naps because my parents told me “you can be anything, just follow your dreams.
So, I practice, knowing full well this will never make me perfect. On a long enough timeline everyone fails. Success is not immortal. There are times we bury it like a bone in the backyard, digging deep down, but along the way find that our fingers feature familiar facets that’s found in the search parties we sent out seeking someplace suitable for it to rest. The last words of success were, and will always be, “the least we can do is everything”.
So, do it all, as if life’s too short and you’re too tall. Fall in love as many times as it takes, so when the rest of the world wakes up, you can say, “I got it right this time”. Today I’m living proof that one guy who’s never been into heavy lifting can still raise the roof. I have loved this life. I smile because I have tiny dreams that play hopscotch at the corners of my mouth. And every time I breathe they float, every time I laugh they fly kites. I’ve spent late nights in hospitals watching EKG monitors, realising my heart has a skyline. And I’ve seen too many people who assign window-washers to their eyes so they can watch their lives clearly pass them by. Which is why I try to mark even the most mundane memories into monuments that mark my times as something more than moments.
Like November 21st 1999; walked into a coffee shop, asked a girl out. She said, “I’m busy till the next lunar eclipse”. So I left laughing, knowing that only moments before I had just read an article stating that the next lunar eclipse would be on January 21st of 2000. Two months away to the day. Coincidence? No. It’s spooky. But we did end up going out, and I had a great time up until I told her that story and she said, “that’s crazy. That’s the kind of story you tell your kids.”
There was no one there to tell me, “this is going to hurt”. And it did, and it does. It was, and will always be, a memory that reminds me, I can never have kids. So from time to time, I have to be one. Come to this world armed with curiosity and amazement. Edit the unsent letters of my life into a one-word statement,” yes”. Yes to romantic flashlight-lit dinners when you’ve run out of candles. To handles on pillows so you can hold on to your dreams. To the underdog dogsled teams who use angry cats instead of canines, to landmines filled with confetti, to the steady hands of friends who live like surgeons operating on our broken hearts, building pacemakers from the spare parts of mercy. We spend most of our figuring out what we don’t want. We haunt ourselves with regret, because we almost always bet the odds. We play it safe. We waste time wondering, “what if we’re wrong?” What if we fail, what if we lose, what then?
Well, then you’re a loser. But you’re not alone. There’s a legion of us who have been shot down. On a long enough timeline everyone fails. There’s an entire universe made up of the unsent secret crush emails, a hollow sky filled with the lost details of what it feels like to never know, because we go about our lives never having tried. Feeling justified in our “what if” excuses. What if he/she/them/they/that/it, what if it didn’t?
And I ask, “what if it did?” The kid in me says yes to everything, the love in me says, “shut up and say something.”