October 26, 2008

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No! It's...

My name is not Clark Kent.

I've dressed in blue tights on a couple of occasions, but it had nothing to do with saving people or performing amazing feats.

I can run faster than a speeding toddler, but not faster than a speeding bullet.

I am more powerful than a locomotive, but only if it's one of those little, electric, toy locomotives.

While it's true that I can fly, to do so requires the use of an airplane or other mode of flying technology.

I can produce a menacing glare that might make someone feel hot under the collar, but it can hardly be called "heat vision".

As much as I wished for the power to see through women's clothing when I was a teenager, I never had X-Ray vision.

My "super-hearing" is limited to the extent that I am able to selectively tune-out my wife's or my mother's nagging. Not that they ever do that.

And, although it might seem that way at times, I am not from a distant planet.

If you haven't guessed by now, I am not Superman. I admit that there are some uncanny similarities, and I admit that we've never been seen at the same time and in the same place, but I've never seen you and Superman at the same time and in the same place either. Hmm...

I devoured the weekly Superman comics when I was a teenager. If I could still afford it, I would devour the comics now. You see, Superman is one of my heroes.

I don't think it's the super-powers that make Superman great; it's his compassion and his strict adherence to doing what he believes is just - never willing to settle for what's easiest or most expedient. He plunges into any situation, no matter how dire, to alleviate the suffering of others. He is dependable. He is tenacious. He is selfless. Truly, these are qualities to be admired and emulated.

In spite of Superman's physical ability to move planets, however, he is still vulnerable. There are things he cannot do. Sometimes he needs help.

The greatest Superman stories, in my opinion, are the ones where he realises that he can't do everything by himself. I'm not talking about the stories where the aliens are invading and he calls on all the other superheroes to lend a hand, I'm talking about the ones where he asks for help from ordinary, everyday people. I'm talking about the stories where average people, through their actions small or large, have the ability to help turn the tides and save the planet from yet another cataclysmic disaster. Or stories of everyday tragedies, like when Superman doesn't know how to stop the spousal assaults that he hears every night in the apartment next to him - so he turns to others for advice and assistance.

I am not Superman, but lately, it has felt like I 've been supporting the weight of an entire planet on my shoulders. It's a tiring thing to do. I have realised, however, that no matter how proud or determined I am, I need a helping hand, too, sometimes.

This past month, especially, has me appreciating people who, though their actions - small and large - have helped me and my family deal with our alien invaders, maniacal madmen, and criminal masterminds: Heather's and Joanne's families who are watching our pets while we're in Vancouver for Jade's induction to the Ketogenic Diet, Mark who cooked and froze a supply of meals to ensure that we do not starve ourselves, and Linda who provided Fawn and me with a "we didn't realise how much we needed this" couple of hours off together. In their own way, they are Super-people, giving selflessly of themselves to help others in need.

I am not Superman.  But with friends like that looking out for us, I don't need to be.

1 comment:

Mongoose said...

Well you certainly have an awful lot to deal with these days. I hope things start sorting them out. And I hope Fawn is ok.