Friday, December 27, 2013

Spider-Man and Purpose

Right now I feel bored or sad or restless or something.  So I’m going to start writing and I’m going to keep writing because it’s what I do to clear the cobwebs from my head.  It’s funny that I should use the word “cobwebs.”  Cobwebs are the dust left from disintegrated webs.  And I was just reading some Spider-Man comic books.  Spider-Man is an interesting hero. 
For those who don’t know his origin, Spider-Man is really Peter Parker, a weak, puny and unpopular high-school student who was bitten by a radioactive spider and, as a result, given the proportionate strength and ability of a spider.  He can leap great heights, he’s strong, he’s quick and he has a “spider sense” that warns him of impending danger.  Initially he used his powers to become rich and famous. 
This made him a little arrogant.  While leaving a studio he ignored a plea to stop a robber.  Later upon arriving at home he found that his beloved Uncle Ben who, along with his wife May, had raised the boy, was murdered.  Parker immediately went looking for the murderer.  Parker found the murderer and, to his horror, realized it was the same robber he had failed to stop earlier.   From this he learned that “with great power comes great responsibility.”
Different writers have focused on this theme at various times, making Spider-Man at times almost neurotic from guilt, but always courageous and heroic.  As Spider-Man, Parker has a trademark sense of humor that he uses constantly while fighting super villains.  Of all the superheroes, Spider-Man is one of the most heroic, not only because he fights bad guys, but also because he rarely loses sight of his Purpose.
Any one of us could be Spider-Man.  I don’t mean that we can have the proportionate strength of a spider or that we can swing through the air on webs.  We can, however, understand that with great power comes great responsibility.    And we all, each of us, has great powers. We all have abilities that others don’t have.  We are called to use those abilities for the following reasons:
·      To help others
·      To set an example
·      It’s the right thing to do
·      It will make life better.

How does Purpose help others?   Helping others is the reason we are given our powers.  We are not meant to hide them or use them solely for personal gain.  When I say “solely” I’m leaving the door open for the possibility that we can and sometimes should make money from our talents.   But profit should not be our chief reason. 
Here’s a thought that’s never really been explored:  Spider-Man did not have to give up his show business career.  He got into it to help Uncle Ben and Aunt May financially.  This was a good motive.  It wasn’t being in show business that caused his problems.  It was his refusal to use his abilities to do the right thing when it was within his power.  Perhaps, being young, his fame went to his head and made him arrogant.  Even so, he could have realized it was his arrogance that caused his problems, not being in show business.
Had he stayed in show business, he might have been able to help his Aunt May who had health and financial issues.  He could have used the money he made to give to charities.  Of course, that wouldn’t have been much of a comic book, but there is nothing inherently wrong with making money with our gifts. St. Paul said, “The worker is worthy of his wage.”  
As a writer, I want it very clear that it is among my chief goals to be able to support myself with my writing.  It might even be my obligation to make money with my talents.  Could you imagine the Beatles playing for free?  Or Picasso painting for free?  In addition, if I were paid for my writing, I would probably have more time to devote to it.  Perhaps Spider-Man might be even more effective if he didn’t have to spend some of his time working.  (Technically, he did make money off his Spider-Man personae, by taking pictures of his battles and selling the pictures to the Daily Bugle.)
How does being in Purpose set an example?  It just does.  It’s also not my chief reason, but I’ve told many people that if they would find their own Purpose and devote time to it as often as possible, their lives would change for the better.   At least that’s what happened to me.  I’m not saying my life is perfect.  But it is better.  Even the difficulties I have now feel like the ones I should be having.  When I wasn’t in my Purpose, I found myself dealing with problems I had no interest in or ability for solving.  When I’m in my Purpose, I find my problems become opportunities.
Being in Purpose is also the right thing to do.  I don’t mean only morally right, but also technically correct.  It’s like being in the right job instead of the wrong job.  Inn Good to Great, Steven Covey says it’s not only being on the right bus, but on the right seat on the right bus.  This allows others to take their right seats.
Finally, being in Purpose makes my life better.  I don’t mean circumstantially better, though that may happen, too.  By “better, I mean, more meaningful, of more quality, and with richer experiences.  Since I started writing almost a year ago, I feel like I’ve grown spiritually, mentally and emotionally.  My life feels as if it has greater meaning, not because of what I do, but because I am being who I am, who I was meant to be.  I don’t have more value because I’m in my Purpose, but I’ve become more valuable to the world and to myself.
Like Spider-Man, I have learned to Get Started and Keep Going…because I too have great power.