So, I was almost out the door to enjoy a Friday evening last night when this came on the telly. I had to stay until its 60 seconds was up. I was riveted. Go ahead, see why.
This is the transcribed version for Verse 1 of the Olympic Manifesto created by Sport Chek with Shane Koyczan, a renowned Canadian spoken-word poet, at their helm:
What will you do when your lungs burn and your body shakes?
When the disaster in your muscles go from tremors to earthquakes?
How will you hold on when every rung you reach for shatters in your grasp and there are more ways to fall than there are to climb?
How will you keep going when the hands on the clock refuse to applaud you until your best time is a broken record that skips over your next heartbeat?
How will you move forward when your feet feel like anchors you must drag across the finish line?
How will you sharpen into an ! the curled up ? of your spine?
What will it take to keep you from doubting yourself THIS time?
– Shane Koyczan
First let me digress to just say that Shane Koyczan is a genius when it comes to Poetry. I have heard some of his work, mostly to do with his anti-bullying campaign and the To This Day Project, but this man truly has a way with words. They bend at his bidding. Here is a blow-you-away video from Shane Koyczan and the To This Day Project
The images, the music, and Koyczan’s poetry in this video come together for a devastatingly moving emphasis. The result leaves you speechless.
Returning to Verse 1 of the Manifesto though. There are a few more verses like this to land in the next week (fear not, all have Koyczan pounding out his incredible poetry), according to online newsfeeds, on August 14th, 18th and the 21st. Koyczan’s words are short but pack a punch that gets you right off that floor where you may lay beaten. His words reach out to drive into action not just Olympians competing for titles they have worked for most of their lives, but his words (as is usually the case with Koyczan) reach out to you and I, people carrying our own crosses on a daily basis. Koyczan drives his hand into your chest and lifts up your heart and you can feel it rise as you start to feel stronger. Such is the power of words to inspire, to galvanize toward something bigger. Such is Koyczan’s gift. For their part, the Sport Chek media team hand pick the best moments of the games and then slap on a crescendo of a soundtrack to perfectly unite with Koyczan’s spoken word. The result is a Carpe Diem moment. A YOLO effect. A fight-until-the-death philosophy that keeps you pushing.
I have the utmost respect for the talent powerhouse that Koyczan is, and then he goes and teams up with a Canadian sports retailer like Sport Check to really make a difference for the Canadian Spirit. That deserves a standing ovation.
So here’s to Koyczan, and here’s to our Canadian athletes competing in Rio, and here is to all the athletes and their families and their fans, and to you and I. In the words of Koyczan, “What will it take to keep you from doubting yourself THIS time?”
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