“Places” by Shane Koyczan

“Places” by Shane Koyczan


– We’re busy people. We’ve got places to be, so many places. However many places we need to get away from dealing with our problems, that’s how many places we’ve got. We are not risk for not
having enough places. When we were kids, we
used to twist up our faces in defiance each morning
because we had to go to school. But school was a place. Training grounds for the rat
race in which they taught us to chase down a living, even though that meant giving up our best years so we could save enough
money to enjoy our worst. Even though that meant back
burnering our own ambitions so we could tow the company line first, but work was a place. And in it our days became routine where we learned to trace around the edges of whatever life we wanted. We were told we could have it all. But our skulls became houses haunted with the stress of job security. We found ourselves at the mercy
of an ever changing world. Fingers curled around the oh shit handles, we started to pick up speed. Our veins became a hallway of time through which we began to bleed the same old day in, day out. Devote in our duties but always
with our eyes on the clock. We would watch the minute hand shake hands with the hour hand. Our dreams became castles
being built in the sand of an hour glass where
time kept slipping away. We became cheerleaders
routing on the end of the day. We couldn’t wait to go home. Because home was the place. Our base of operations where we drafted up battle plans for the future. We had plans for all
those many years ahead. But mostly we just saddled up our bed and rode it into sleep
because we had to be up to do it all over again the next morning. In the midst of our dreams,
we heard our alarm clock shove their warning into our weary bodies that soon we would again
have to leave our homes so we could keep our homes. Our enthusiasm for this
life was left behind a water that the catacombs of all the
things we could have been, all the places we could’ve ended up. We have so many places. Not just the cradle, not just the grave. But all the places in between. Places where we traded away our time to become cogs in a machine that’s been breaking down for decades. There are parades of the rejected walking the streets every day. They sit like missing
parts beside a machine that has no place for them, places for the corrupt, places for the treacherous,
the untrustworthy. We have places made of
steel reinforced concrete, three and a half feet
thick to protect money that will go to building more places that will sit empty. But we have no place for
society’s most down trodden. We watched their horizons diminish while our skyline has
broaden and our cities grow. How is it that with all this growth, there remains no place for the abandoned or the destitute, that daily commute from desperation to hope gets longer the more numb we become to the fact that these are people. And like Sisyphus, we push
change up a steep hill, only to watch it roll
back down to the bottom after getting so close to the top. Bureaucracy holds up a
stop sign to our compassion and says, nothing can be done. It’s the same spin that’s been spun ever since they loaded apathy into a gun that sits unlocked in
a cabinet of despair. Where can they go? No sleeping on the street. No resting on bus benches. Unwanted everywhere they go. They dig trenches deeper into themselves because there is a war
being waged upon them. Not with artillery, who needs
all those explosions of noise when you’ve got something that’s quiet and is deadly as red tape. There are holes in the safety net in the shape of people. We forget tragedy is a switch. We’re never more than one flick away from the it that can happen
to anyone at any time. The climb back to sure
footing isn’t always as easy as putting your best foot forward. Isn’t easy to look for a way out when your vision is blurred by tears born from the labor of having to
accept society doesn’t want you. How is anyone meant to keep going knowing that no one cares? Anyone who wears the
scar of homeless knows that in this world, there
exists avenues of disaster with losses so profound
they can envelope you. For some it becomes a syringe. Each hinge on the doorway
leading out of addiction slowly rusting shut. For others, it’s a sharpened economy, ready to cut loose anyone
who falls behind on rent, even if this time it was spent on training meant to lift them out of poverty. Or maybe it was a bank who said
they were doing you a favor by lending you money, when really they were
just betting against you. Maybe disaster blew away your home. Maybe you were left to
roam the waiting room of your insurance company who’s policy is to deny claim, or delay payment because every cent they
can keep in the bank is another turn on the crank of a machine that spits out compound interest, which means there’s money to be made by keeping your future on a waiting list. Indifference has taken the place of mercy. When we need action, we distract ourselves with whatever new
controversy is handed to us. Diversion has taken the place of focus. And while we sink deeper
into an abyss of lassitude, the cord that connects us to our humanity is being chewed through by greedy teeth. Our detachment is being
twisted into a wreath being laid upon the
headstone of our tenacity. We used to fight for one another. But hey, we’re busy people. We got places to be. We got so many places. However many places we
need to hide our faces from the people who have nothing, and who we have to walk by on our way to whatever place we have to be, that’s how many places we’ve got. We are not at risk for
not having enough places. Places for the indifferent. Places for the greedy. But no place for the abandoned. No place for the strange. No place for anyone begging us for change. (dramatic music)