Monday, February 05, 2007

Larger than Life

Why are we so fascinated with superheroes? Children turn to Spiderman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and all sorts of other larger than life figures to extend their small world and support them as they deal with the challenges in their lives.

As a child I was never good at "make believe." I lived in a very real world that had no room for imaginary friends or superheroes. What a shame!

It was only in my fifties that I started embracing superheroes. Mine came in the form of health care providers who offered me everything from a reawakening of my sense of touch to an explanation of a life-long physical problem to various remediations for this problem to interventions to help me keep cancer at bay. For all these people, nothing they said or did would seem extraordinary to them, but it elevated their status in my mind. They became my superheroes.

I started to wonder if anyone was actually looking at me as a superhero. I am not sufficiently geeky to qualify as anyone's superhero in my IT job. However, the fact that I could design and make 6 finished napkins in an hour and a half yesterday might make me someone's superhero. Or the fact that I continue to pack more into most every day than 24 hours will accommodate.

Just as children cling to their superheroes, we as adults also take comfort from figures who loom larger than life. That is, until we realize that these people are just like us. They have the same physical and emotional needs and shortcomings. For all of us life ends at exactly the same place.


Blogger Pauline said...

Is it a need to be rescued? A desire to rescue? A wish to be all-powerful and still be good? I wanted to be invisible and invincible when I was young. A part of me didn't want anyone to know it was me going about righting wrongs. Another part of little me, though, wanted everyone to know and to recognize me as the MOST - the most beautiful, the most intelligent, the strongest, most daring girl in the whole world. Falling short of that myself, I dreamed of superheroes until I had to become one - the moment I had a child of my own.

6:25 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Pauline -- Do your children still view you as a superhero? I'm not sure mine would classify me that way.

10:15 PM  
Blogger Old Lady said...

25. On leaving some Friends at an early Hour

GIVE me a golden pen, and let me lean
On heap’d up flowers, in regions clear, and far;
Bring me a tablet whiter than a star,
Or hand of hymning angel, when ’tis seen
The silver strings of heavenly harp atween: 5
And let there glide by many a pearly car,
Pink robes, and wavy hair, and diamond jar,
And half discovered wings, and glances keen.
The while let music wander round my ears,
And as it reaches each delicious ending, 10
Let me write down a line of glorious tone,
And full of many wonders of the spheres:
For what a height my spirit is contending!
’Tis not content so soon to be alone.

John Keats

I have been thinking about ths poem and it took me a while to find it so I am LATE!!! I have always liked Keats flair for description and use of color.

My hero was always my father. He could do anything.

11:08 PM  
Blogger media concepts said...

Perhaps people turn to superheroes for the same reaason people once turned to gods, and then to organized religion: as an antidote to their fears.

I have always been partial to Batman myself.

I am not a conoisseur of poetry, but that Keats poem is something else Unlike some poems that have bored me, it feels very modern and alive

12:46 AM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

I'm glad we're moving into the Age of Aquarius during which we'll realize we don't need any more heroes or superheroes. All of us are so powerful, all of us are able to step up to the plate and offer our brilliant talents and skills for the greater good of all. In the Age of Aquarius we will let go of our temptation to feel weak and victimized, which is what leads people to long for a superhero.

We are NOT weak beings. But children have no power, and physically they are incapable of holding their own against adults. After the bar mitzvah, we should be encouraged to let go of the superhero thought form.

Barbara you are mighty. You don't need any heroes and you don't need to be a hero. Just be who you are. Who you are is magnificent!

9:35 AM  
Blogger Kristin said...

I do like superheroes. I always have. On the surface, everything with them seems black and white but one soon discovers that it's all shades of gray. The hard part is accepting their humanity, their failings, and still believing in them. (Superheroes seem to have amazing struggles, faults and Achilles heels.)

I find it's the same with all people, learning to accept their humanity, their failings, and still believing in them.

9:38 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

OL -- I love the Keats poem. The stories you have told about your father indeed portray him as a superhero.

MediaConcepts -- You are absolutely right about why people turn to superheroes. They become surrogates for God because they seem so much more tangible even in their imaginary form. In my case I often end up ascribing powers to these people that aren't even real. That's why I have to continue to remind myself that all of us poor slobs are really on equal ground.

Reya -- I appreciate your vote of confidence. Sometimes though it's hard to resist the temptation to create idols! When does the Age of Aquarius start?

Kristin -- Maybe we can take comfort in the fact that all of us to some degree are superheroes!

11:22 AM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

I still view all my doctors as superheroes and it's hard for me to imagine them just hanging out doing ordinaryt things when they do amazing things during the day! Like when my Cardiologist said I reminded him of Dr. Grey on Grey's Anatomy! I thought it was funny he should watch a doctor show!

I used to dream I had super powers and could fly when I was a little kid!

11:09 PM  

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