I saw a guy walking down a street the other day with a Superman t-shirt on. Maybe someone bought it for him or maybe he’s a big comic book fan. Maybe he identifies with Superman, in some self-delusion.
I used to have a Superman shirt too. I wore it because I had a right to wear it. If anyone was Superman it was me, right? I was a huge Superman fan when I was a kid and I was a skinny kid who built himself up physically and mentally by lifting weights… Soo that means I was more like Superman, right? Oh wait, that doesn’t make me like Superman at all.
Superman was born strong and invincible with incorruptible goodwill. He grew up with unshakeable resolve and uncompromising values. I didn’t. I had to struggle and fail and strive toward this, while instead I mostly acted out unkindly, selfishly, and destructive to others and myself. Still not sure I act out any Superman qualities. I’m not awe-inspiringly gifted in any physical capacity or creative faculty. I work toward it. And most of the time I’m pretty lazy in my work and practice toward it.
I threw out my Superman shirt a little while back, not because I’m any less of a fan toward a fictional character that represents the heroic nature that mankind can look to and strive to be, to make the world around them more beautiful, but because I’m not the savior of mankind. I’m not the savior of my friends, of my family, or of the people I reach in my business or through my words. I can’t lift the world on my shoulders and stop meteors hurtling toward earth. I’m not equipped to take on the weight of the world. The bigger than life, “I can save the world” mentality is a bigger handicap to me and anyone who would think he’s a Superman to putting himself in order first and bringing himself under his own control so that maybe, just maybe, he can be someone his loved ones can call on in times of rescuing and respond to the call as if someone ready to answer this call. Maybe someone like this can grow stronger eventually and be called on by more people. But it doesn’t start with assuming the role of savior to the world. It starts with acknowledging how bad you really are at being Superman, accepting it, and going from there.
Maybe it was a little of a melodramatic gesture to throw the shirt out, but I’m feeling those gestures lately.