Despite my relatively advanced age and my not-so-sweet encounters with reality, I still insist that superheroes exist. I believe that some people have certain special gifts - they can fly, do magic, unleash the powers of the mind, make a tremendous difference in the world. I think everyone, in one way or another, has his own super hero. He may not exactly be someone wearing a mask or a cape, or a sword-wielding chap who recites strange magic spells and instantly levitates, or a knight-in-shining armor on a shining white horse ready to save the day. Our own heroes wear ordinary clothes: slippers, shorts, an old shirt, a backpack, jeans, Chuck Taylors, geeky glasses, a stethoscope, a pen. But to us adoring fans, they are heroes more glamorous than those we see on TV. We simply look up to them and we are amazed at every move they make.
I've been a believer of heroes since I was a child. So far, I've never been disappointed. They may be unaware of it but my heroes have made me do wonderful things. They've influenced me to make important choices, guided me through the crossroads of my life. Their own lives, their simple presence, some seemingly insignificant lines that they've spoken (see entry on Serendipitous Lines) have made me do things in my life that I never thought I would be able to accomplish in my lifetime. My heroes are heroes because they made me better.
What happens when a super hero falls from grace? And you witness the fall with your own two eyes. What happens if SuperMan falters in the sky and just helplessly plummets to the ground? What if you took off SpiderMan's mask and realize he's just your geeky neighbor, Peter Parker? What if, just what if, you find out that Batman, in all his mystery and glamour, suffers from substance abuse and chronic depression? What if the great Hulk, in all his bulk and strength, snores and frequently farts in his sleep?
What if your superhero falls from the sky during your most optimistic moment? What if he drops to the ground right there in front of you, with a tattered cape and spirit, helpless?
You can do two things. The easiest option is to simply walk away, fuming mad and disappointed. The second is to help him up, even if it breaks your heart.
My choice is easy. I choose to stick around. After all, heroes do fall. And I like my Achilles better with his vulnerable heels.
This weekend, one of my favorite superheroes stooped down to give me this heart-wrenching message, "Jean, nothing you do will ever disappoint me." Coming from someone I truly look up to, those words practically saved me.
So today, I'm paying these same words forward.
To my beloved caped crusaders who have fallen or who might fall, don't worry. Nothing you do or fail to do will ever disappoint me.