Shane Koyczan is a poet. And he's brilliant.
When we first heard Koyczan's work, a piece entitled "Remember How We Forgot," published in 2013, we were speechless.
More recently, Koyczan released a stunning piece entitled "Heaven, or Whatever," that features background music, gentle vocals, and thought-provoking dialogue. It's part tribute and part personal reflection between a grandson and his grandfather.
Koyczan's intro runs for about the four minute mark, and then the poem begins.
Talking about his grandfather, Koyczan says, "You were not a man of words, but did your best to offer me advice." And, elaborating further:
"You can't just do, whatever... Whatever I choose to do I must not be aimless. I must not simply spin this globe and go wherever I stick my finger. Because 71 percent of the time I will end up in the ocean. And if I do end up in the ocean, I can't just do, whatever."
While parts of the piece make the audience laugh, the crux of Koyczan's poem goes deep — delving into a discussion surrounding his grandfather's, and his own, views about heaven.
"You told me that you thought heaven would be specific to each person, and that each person would have their own version of it," Shane explains. "You said you don't have to believe what I believe. It's enough to be good. Be good."
Here, we think, his words speak volumes.
"You often asked me, if I had a heaven, what would it be like? And I told you that for such a small word, 'if', is just too big to wrap my belief around...But wish now that I would've. Even if it was just to ease your mind in the belief that I could be headed to that other place you believed in. I would tell you now how my heaven is here. It was here. In the gentle warfare of your relationship with grandma...My heaven would make you laugh, because I get the feeling you didn't get to do that very much."
And if that hasn't cued the waterworks yet, there's plenty more. Even Koyczan seems to get choked up a bit.
"Through the night terrors and bloody noses... you did your best to seal up the cracks in my armor and made my heaven here," Koyczan says.
"So I offer you now my if, if there is a heaven, mine would have a post office, so that I could send letters to yours... "
Lessons learned? There are many, depending on which way you look at it. All in all, it's a lesson about family, about belief, and about growing up.