“There is a right and a wrong in the Universe and that distinction is not hard to make.” –Superman
“Why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves back up.” –Batman
“When you decide not to be afraid, you can find friends in super unexpected places.”—Ms. Marvel
Superheroes were not something I grew up knowing about. We watched little TV, because we weren’t allowed. That restriction left me somewhat devoid of pop culture for a good portion of my life. My sister reminded me we knew of Batman and Robin. I also knew of Superman but that was about the extent of my Superhero knowledge.
A Superhero/Superheroine is a person with extraordinary powers (superpowers) that exceed the power of normal human beings. Typically, they have a moral code where they are willing to risk their safety for another person or group. Usually they wear a colorful costume that is recognizable and most always have a secret identity.
Recently I read a book by Fredrik Backman, a Swedish Author, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry. It’s about a grandmother and her devoted seven-year-old granddaughter who both live in a small residential building which includes several flats in Sweden. Threaded throughout the novel is The Land of Almost Awake, a secret Kingdom called Miamas the Grandmother made up. Whenever an emotional escape was needed, the grandmother would engage in wonderful storytelling and they would go to the land of Superhero’s.
The book starts with a death and ends with a life. Through a series of events the granddaughter determines every person, though flawed, has a superpower.
It left me with a question that nagged at me for weeks. Ordinary people – do we in fact, all have a superpower? If yes, do we know what it is or how to find it? Where do we begin?
“I believe there’s a hero in all of us that keeps us honest, gives us strength, makes us noble, and finally allow us to die with pride. –Aunt May (adoptive mother of Peter Parker, who leads a secret life as Spider-Man)
One of my favorites is Caroline Myss, an American author and Spiritual Director. Most of what is below comes from her 2013 Salon, either quoted or paraphrased with some interjections from me.
“A man was a research scientist dedicated to his work. He was tormented because he personally felt the work was unethical, but he stayed with it. As a researcher he needed government grant money to survive. He also knew the product was going into weaponry. He finally quit as he felt he was dedicated to harming others. He could not do it for one more day. He had disconnected from all things living in order to stay unaware of the consequences of his work.”
When I was starting my career, I had a job interview with R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. The job provided a company car. My task would be to go around and stock cigarettes at stores. It seemed like a great entry-level job with a good company. I made it to the second round of interviews. I remember calling my father and sharing this news, but also told him I wanted to bow out. I could not be a part of anything to do with cigarettes knowing they cause harm to people. My father said, “then you bow out and I support your decision.”
In both of our cases a light had come on. Does that light wake us up to what is right for us individually? Caroline Myss says what you begin to realize in this moment of confrontation between your light and your shadow is that you now see the handiwork of the shadow, perhaps for the first time. You are awake now and it is overwhelming, just like the decision to start over is overwhelming.
William James, the 18th century philosopher said that when making a deep commitment to conscious inner transformation, that is—to adapt to the power of the light within you, “Suffer not one exception”. Is the light our superpower?
In those early years of being in sales I could not sell a product that did not help people in some way or at least, did no harm. This has been true throughout my career and the older I get the more truth it holds.
Caroline says adapting to the power of your light requires, actually demands, that once you make a commitment to a path that you believe will empower you, under no circumstances do you break that commitment. “Suffer not one exception”. The light in you is that important.
Though neither the scientist nor my example speaks much about suffering, Caroline writes the decisions that expand the breathing space of your soul and committing to “not one exception” is not easy. It is not about discipline. That is secondary to you awakening the power of your own light, to realizing that each decision you make sets forces of change in motion. You suffer because you need to pause, to reflect, to think to move more consciously through your life while adapting to the speed of light. She says its worth every bit of the effort you put into the decision you make.
Could our superpowers begin to unfold when we recognize our own light? Are we aware enough, brave enough to respond to our own light? To take action and embrace our superpower?
Could those superpowers include:
· Loving ourselves and extending that love to others
· Living with integrity and honesty
· Being involved in a cause
· Being on the side of Justice
· Having Empathy
· Being generous in spirit
I like the words “decisions that expand the breathing space of your soul” and committing to “not one exception”. I like to think that if we really have a superpower, it comes from the light in our souls, not the darkness. That we use it for good, that we are willing to risk ourselves searching for that light.
“Life doesn’t give us purpose. We give life purpose,” -The Flash
“You’re much stronger than you think you are. Trust me.” -Superman
Until next time,