This morning I was stuck in an annoying malaise that was spiraling into a melancholia. My first thought was that I was going to have a rough day, but then–as always seems to happen in these situations–I abruptly cheered up when I opened my mailbox. In it was a postcard from a nameless Mail Artist with an intriguing penned message: “I’m a superhero.”
I don’t know how many of us consider ourselves to be superheroes. However, there are many abilities that people possess in their everyday lives that could easily qualify them as such. Just ask any single mother who juggles her roles as parent, teacher, doctor, friend all in a day’s time. Or, a working father who negotiates seemingly impossible business deals while changing his child’s diapers. In an age where multi-tasking has become an inevitability and the fast pace that technology commands is ever present, it is difficult not to marvel over the feats that humankind has managed to handle.
But just below the surface lies a diabolical villain that always makes us doubt all of the amazing things we’ve done. In most cases, the villain is something akin to Superman’s Kryptonite: it’s a flaw, a weakness, a worrisome, nagging thing. But that’s why superheroes need to exist: there is always an obstacle, a challenge to overcome, a villain that we must face. And sometimes–like Batman’s Dark Knight–that villain is us.
Sure enough, I have worked against myself on many occasions. Today was no different. But the mistake I’d made actually led to my second realization about superheroes: their hopefulness. I mean sure, Clark Kent was a four-eyed klutz, but underneath his 50’s haircut and suit were the blue-tights of a Superman. His small-town upbringing set the stage for morality plays about what it was to be a noble man. Metropolis represented the temptations that only city-life can demand. But Superman always believed in humanity enough to want to defend and personify its principles of justice and freedom.
But this post isn’t about Superman. It’s about the ability that each person has to become his or her own hero. Look, the economy sucks. The world is an ever-changing place. Protests and movements like Occupy Wall Street are popping up everywhere with disgruntled and the unemployed voicing issues facing the country.
Which brings me to my dance in the street with an Elvis Impersonator. Oh sure he didn’t know the words to the 50’s tracks he played and he was older than Elvis was when he died, but who cares? He was giving out the best vibes and the music like Band Stand ‘had a nice beat that you could dance to’. I couldn’t help but take a moment of my day to duet and dance around like an idiot.
Later on, to continue the day’s theme, Rocky came on. For anyone reading this who’s been living under a rock, the character of Rocky Balboa is loosely based on the Bayonne Bleeder, Chuck Wepner. I love a good underdog story. What made Rocky great wasn’t the fact that he could beat somebody senseless, it was his ability to keep getting up when he was knocked down. And in a poignant scene in the movie, Rocky reiterates that concept. That is what distinguishes the men from the boys.
So go out and love and laugh and do all of the things you’ve always wanted to do. If you’ve suffered or are suffering, it won’t last. It can’t. ‘Cause God loves the little guys.