As human beings, mythology is implicit in our nature. It compels us.
We seek tales of uncommon valor, of brave deeds beyond mortal limits, of Beowulf, Achilles, Odysseus, Hiawatha, and the archetype, Superman.
Superman… think about it: if you knew what was really involved, who would aspire to be him? Did you ever really think about it? He’s an orphan, abandoned, the last survivor from his en…tire planet. He has to pretend he’s a myopic, uncoordinated wimp 99% of the time. He can’t reveal who he truly is to the woman he loves, so he sleeps alone, and ever will. And even though bullets bounce off him, he’s vulnerable to radiation from a stupid green rock that nobody else gives a shit about. He is Totally Alone. Who would pick that life?
But Superman (or Batman, or Spiderman, or Ironman, or any number of other made-up flawed and deeply unhappy heroes) has been the subliminal goal for boys and men and America for decades. “Be heroic, but be unfulfilled, lonely, and miserable as a human being.” How did this become something to be admired, to be aspired to? This is totally fucked up.
It has not only fucked up two or three generations of men, it has fucked up two or three generations of women, marriages, and kids. The great PIXAR movie “The Incredibles” captured the gist of it… but it took the cheap (and admittedly entertaining!) out by letting the entire Incredibles family express their “super” sides. But the truth is that we human beings do not have a “super side”. And the myth of superheroism is destroying us.
Learning how to be Not-Superman has been a hard focus for me for a while now. And as I work for success in this endeavor, I’m persuading some pretty damn good real world heroes and heroines to this view.
Don’t be, or expect to be, a Superhero. Be a Dad-hero. Be a Coach-hero. Be a Husband-hero. Be a Cop-Hero, a Nurse-Hero, a Platoon-Commander-Hero, a Boss-hero, a Barrista-hero. Be a hero where you are, but above all be a hero who is YOU.
Do NOT put on a costume or a mask, do not hide behind a secret identity, do NOT exile yourself from who you truly are because someone you think you love wants you to, or how forcefully Society pushes you to do it.