Few moments are more devastating in a young boys life than realizing he can’t grow up to be Superman. While others draw solace knowing being Batman might still be possible, I never really gave up on the Superman thing.
A Bottle of Vanilla
When I was around 14, my best friend and I had a little fun with his neighbor, a kid a couple years younger who very much looked up to us. We told him that if he drank a bottle of vanilla, he would become Superman and be able to fly. The kid paused for a moment, then drank the entire bottle. If you thought a Jagermeister shot was tough to down…
We laughed about it. We thought it was fairly understood that it was a joke, and that the kid was just playing along to amuse us. Then, 5-10 minutes later, we saw him climbing out of the second floor window to go to the roof. Superman was about to try to fly for the first time. I yelled out at the kid as my friend ran inside and upstairs to stop him. We had to break the news to him…he was not Superman!
I never fully learned that lesson.
It’s Not Easy Being Superman
An ex of mine bought me a CD with this song on it. She had listened to it, over and over, crying through it each time. She said it hit her in three ways. First, that she knew it was not east to be me. That my life, living it, was harder than her living her life. Second, and most emotional for her, was that I spent so much of my energy on being Superman.
She said to me how there was a very sweet, tender, vulnerable, romantic side to me, but that she was the only one she’d known to have seen such a side, or at least to experience it for any extended period. Everyone else got the strong, emotionally unmovable rock, who on the outside appeared, in most every way, to be Superman. I even had the hair with a little curly cue that often fell over my forehead!
The third way it hit her was that I spent most of my energy and focus living for others, but rarely had plans for or put much effort towards my own happiness.
That was over 15 years ago.
I am still wearing that red cape.
I Know I Can’t Fly, I’m Not That Naive
I suppose it is not all that uncommon for men to want to be Superman, to be strong and silent, to take on the weight and challenges of others. Some of us know when to put the cape away, and some of us still have dreams of flying.
I know I can’t fly. But, part of me will always be putting on the red cape. It is too much of who I am. It’s my uniform. Perhaps there will be a time in life, a person in life, or a situation in life that will move me to take off the cape, but until then, I wear the S on my chest. But, that does not have to be you.
Men weren’t meant to fly.
You don’t have to carry the weight of your world. Find people who will help you lift the weight.
You don’t need to be bullet proof. Find people who will protect you, and in the invent you take a hit, people who will help you heal.
Lack of vulnerability and emotion does not make you strong. Find people you can be at less than your best around and be fully accepted.
Put down your cape. You don’t have to fly.
Men weren’t meant to fly.