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I've spoken to my students on occasion about what has to be the greatest feeling in the world. Many times I get some pretty shallow answers, while at others they give me a response that just blows my socks off. Admittedly, I've typically gone with a stock answer: to be a musician who has a crowd of thousands in the palm of his hand, all singing the words to the song he's written. I've felt this way since the mid 1980s when Live Aid took place. I hadn't really seen big concerts like this -- and while I thoroughly enjoyed it all, I was really taken back by Queen's performance -- specifically, I remember watching Freddie Mercury essentially toy with his audience. He truly had control over tens of thousands of people in such a positive way. I think that this can really be seen at the 3:10 mark of this video...
I follow a pretty wide variety of people on twitter -- and some services like BrainPickings and Upworthy as well, both of which are pretty tuned in to making suggestions to me concerning things on the web that I will more than likely be interested. I'm not sure that I've ever been more taken back or affected by Upworthy's recommendation to check out Shane Koyczan's To This Day Project.
In actuality, that's not what Upworthy told me to check out -- they actually had it titled: Bullies Called Him Pork Chop -- and this caught my attention right away. I was captivated by Koyczan's voice as well as the techniques that were used in the video itself. But his message -- his message is what kept me tuned in. I simply couldn't stop watching, and I couldn't get his words out of my head.
The next day I showed this video to each of my classes and we had some wonderful discussions about everything from the idea of bullying itself to how soothing his voice sounds, even when talking about such horrible events, to how awesome the elements of the video itself are. Simply put, Koyczan just flat out nailed this.
We caught this early -- in fact, when we watched it on YouTube during First Block, there were under 2,000 views. We watched throughout the day as this number steadily climbed -- by the end of the day it was closer to 70,000. Koyczan's video continued to be re-tweeted over and over and over again. The social media machine took over. I woke up the next morning to see that it had been viewed almost two million times. I can't even IMAGINE how weird and exciting and rewarding this had to have been for Koyczan. I mean, really, can you imagine the feeling of knowing that something you poured your absolute heart in to was turned in to something that has touched so many? That's just got to be the absolute pinnacle.
On top of that, he's got a bad ass beard and is bold enough to say Yes, I'm going to put flowers in my beard and be even more bad ass than you!
As of now, close to eight million people have viewed this inspiring video. He's done a TED Talk -- what an honor. Shane Koyczan, you've Freddie Mercury'ed us...
Koyczan's piece really forced me to take a look in to the concept of bullying and more specifically, the way that a simple word -- whether positive or negative -- affects the kids we work with. Looking in to his work further brought me to another piece, Instructions for a Bad Day, which also had a tremendous video to go along with it. And his words are beyond inspirational:
-- Remember the times that you could have pressed 'quit' but you hit 'continue.'
-- Everyone is blessed with the ability to listen. The deaf will hear you with their eyes. The blind will see you with their hands.
Let your heart fill their newstands -- Let them read all about it.
-- Love and hate are beasts and the one that grows is the one you feed.
I could go on and on -- and each day that I take a look over the lyrics to his pieces, something completely different jumps out at me.
Honestly, I'm SHOCKED that somebody like Ellen DeGeneres hasn't picked this story up yet -- what are you waiting on, Ellen? this has your show written all over it.
I know I've provided you with some links -- take the 20 minutes or so to check out the things in this post -- I really don't think you'll be disappointed.