Saturday, June 8, 2013

Superman and Purpose

“This looks like a job for Superman!”
From many comics, books, cartoons and movies starring Superman

“You're much stronger than you think you are. Trust me.”
Grant Morrison –All Star Superman

“It's not about where you were born. Or what powers you have. Or what you wear on your chest. ... It's about what you do... It's about action”.

Geoff Johns – Superman in Infinite Crisis

Although I’ve shared this story before and although it isn’t mine, I’m reminded of the following story by Steven Pressfield in Do the Work.  After a tortuous, solitary, several-day effort, Pressfield finally finished his first novel and went to see a friend.  When he told the friend what he had finally accomplished, the friend said, “Congratulations.  Now go start the next one.”
After writing 100 blogs, I feel like that’s what the Muse is saying to me:  Go start the next one.
No victory lap?   No dance?   No party?
They’re not necessary.  I shared my victory with the people I wanted to share it with and now it’s time to Get Started and Keep Going.
Usually I put that phrase at the end of each blog, but it’s good to remind myself constantly.  Here are some other things I want to remember constantly
1.     Time is short.
2.     Doing the work is its own victory.
3.     I have gifts.  They didn’t come from me and I’m obligated to share them with my world or the world.
4.     It doesn’t matter how or even if my gifts are received, only that I share them.

A thought just occurred to me. 
I have often said that everyone has gifts.  That’s my optimism at work.  But what if that’s not true?  What if there really are people who are ordinary and quiet and who don’t accomplish much with their lives?  Now I truly doubt this, but let’s just pretend it’s the truth.  If it is, then I am even more obligated to share my gifts.  Because I have been uniquely selected for some special purpose and I have been given special abilities.  Using the superhero as an analogy, what would be the point of having super powers if I didn’t use them to help others? 
As pointed out in Kill Bill 2, most superheroes are normal people and their heroic selves are a different identity.  For example, Spider-Man is really Peter Parker and Batman is really Bruce Wayne.  This is not true of Superman, however.  Superman is really Superman and his false identity is the mild-mannered Clark Kent.   (Clark Kent is a writer, by the way.)   Jerry Siegel’s original interpretation of Kent is as a milquetoast, someone afraid to stand up for himself or anyone else.  This behavior, of course, infuriated Lois Lane, the woman he loved. 
What if Superman chose to remain hidden as Clark Kent?  Perhaps he would do some good, but nowhere near the good he could do as Superman.  He wouldn’t accomplish any of the deeds he did in his real identity. He wouldn’t have been able to serve the world as effectively.  He also wouldn’t have made the friends he made or had the experiences he had if he had stayed hidden.  He wouldn’t have been able to protect “ordinary people.”
Now, if there are ordinary people, people with no gifts or abilities, then part of my obligation is to serve them or bring them relief.  Not everyone can act, but most of enjoy watching actors on television or the movies.  Yet somehow I think of Jesus when he said, “I did not come to bring peace, but to bring a sword.”  My gifts are not meant to comfort but to inspire.  They are meant to remind others that they too have an obligation to stop hiding.  If my being in action makes others uncomfortable, then that’s a good thing.
Or perhaps my obligation is to serve others who need motivation to use their gifts so that they do not stay ordinary or hidden.  I don’t know.
I really don’t believe that there are any ordinary people, but I believe that there are people who choose to act ordinary.  I am choosing not to be ordinary.

Another thought just occurred to me.  Being in my Purpose over the last five months may be why I no longer feel the compulsion to go to the comic book store every week.  I don’t need to read about the heroics of fictional characters.  I am, in reality, doing my own heroics.  I may not be, “faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive or able to leap tall buildings in a single bound,” but I can use the powers I have.  I can, I should and I want to. 
I can Get Started and I can Keep Going, like Superman, but maybe a little better.