‘It doesn’t matter if the glass is half full or half empty, there’s water in the cup. drink that shit and stop complaining.’
When I first heard of National Poetry Slam, this just happened to be the first performance I watched and it is a doozy. I didn’t know where Francisco was going at first but his words just more and more powerful as he goes on. His words are like arrows cutting through the nonsense in our lives. It’s our choice whether to let it pierce and stick, or pull it out.
At the 2015 National Poetry Slam semi-finals in California, this is Elevated by Rudy Francisco*:
So, the following are all true stories:
May 26th 2003, Aron Ralston was hiking.
A boulder fell on his right hand he waited four days, then he amputated his own arm with a pocket knife. On New Year’s Eve, a woman was bungee-jumping in Zimbabwe. The cord broke, she then fell into a river and had to swim back to land in crocodile infested waters with a broken collarbone. Claire Champlin was smashed in the face by a five-pound watermelon being propelled by slingshot. Mathew Probus was hit by a javelin. David Striegl was actually punched in the mouth by a kangaroo.
The most amazing part of these stories is when asked about the experience, they all smiled, shrugged and said, ‘guess things could have been worse’. So go ahead, tell me that you’re having a bad day. Tell me about the traffic. Tell me about your boss. Tell me about the job you’ve been trying to quit for the past four years. Tell me the morning is a townhouse burning to the ground. Tell me the snooze button is a fire extinguisher. Tell me the alarm clock stole the keys to your smile, drove it in the 70m and the crash totaled your happiness. Tell me, tell me, tell me, tell me, tell me how blessed are we to have tragedies so small they could fit on the tips of our tongues.
You see, when Evan, when Evan lost his legs he was speechless. When my cousin was assaulted, she didn’t speak for 48 hours. When my uncle was murdered, we had to send out a search party to find my father’s voice. Most people have no idea that tragedy and silence actually have the exact same address…
When your day is a museum of disappointments hanging from events that were outside of your control; when you find yourself flailing in an ocean of ‘why is this happening to me?’, when it feels like your guardian angel put in his two week notice two months ago and just decided not to tell you, when it feels like God is a babysitter that’s always on the phone, when you get punched in the oesophagus by a fist-full of life, remember that every year, 2 million people die of dehydration. So it doesn’t matter if the glass is half full or half empty, there’s water in the cup. Drink that shit and stop complaining.
See, muscle, muscle, muscle is created by repeatedly lifting things that have been designed to weigh us down. So when your shoulders feel heavy, stand up straight, lift your chin, call it exercise. Remember that life is a gym membership with a really complicated cancellation policy. Remember that you will survive. Remember things could be worse. Remember we are never, ever, ever given anything that we can’t handle. when the world crumbles around you, look at the wreckage, build a new one out of all the pieces that are still here. Remember that you are still here.
The human heart beats approximately four thousand times per hour, and each pulse, each throb, each palpitation is a trophy engraved with the words ‘you are still alive’.
You are still alive.
Act like it.
*Property of National Poetry Slam Inc.