My 8 year-old son is crazy go nuts about superheroes. His bedroom wall is lined with posters, and his bedroom (floor!) is strewn with action figures. With his birthday in September, and Christmas looming just around the corner, my mind has been focusing on superheroes more than usual recently.
Now I am not professing to be an expert, so any Comic-Con attending devotees reading this will have to cut me some slack, but I have found myself comparing and contrasting some of the more well known superheroes, i.e.: Superman, Spiderman, The Hulk, The Flash and of course, Batman. I am well aware Wonder Woman is missing from this list, but my son is only eight, and has maybe another couple of years before such womanly wiles ping his radar.
After not much consideration over a cup of coffee, I have concluded that Batman is my preferred superhero. Why Batman? Surprisingly it has precious little to do with his figure-hugging costume, and everything to do with how he came to be. Unlike Superman, Spiderman and The Hulk who were either aliens, or the product of radioactive insects and accidental medical experiments, Batman is an ordinary man. The Batman persona was born out of darkness, following the murder of his parents. Bruce Wayne was attempting to right wrongs, to make the world a better place by snatching victory and justice out of crime and disorder. Of course we can argue the concept of vigilantism, but let's save that for another day.
So then we look up from our movies, comics and action figures to see that real heroes don't get - or need - the fancy schmancy costumes, more often than not our everyday heroes are dressed in everyday clothes. And for the avoidance of doubt, I am going to include i.e.: stab vests, helmets, visors, surgical gloves, breathing apparatus, Toetectors, life jackets and aprons into my definition of everyday clothes, because they are everyday clothes for these everyday superheroes.
We all hope to God that we never have to meet a superhero in a professional sense, because we're in trouble if we do, but aren't we thankful when they swoop in to serve and save us? I don't know about you, but my kids have regularly sent me into top gear by presenting me with serious medical symptoms. A few years ago, my then 10 year-old daughter was experiencing meningitis-like symptoms, and the world fell out of my arse. Thankfully, after a battery of tests, it was not meningitis, but my daughter was still severely unwell. Not only did the doctors and nurses look after my daughter, they educated and reassured me too. We often forget how many different and interlocking aspects there are to being a true everyday superhero. There is rarely much glory to be had when you're knee deep in the human experience.
Our doctors, nurses, lifeguards, police officers, fire fighters, paramedics/air ambulance medics (to name but a few) are all worth their weight in gold, but there are even more people out there with superpowers. In fact I'm going to put it to you that we all have superpowers, let me explain: I was walking with my son along a street this morning that was having the refuse collected. My son wanted to watch the wheelie bins being grabbed by the truck, before they were lifted and emptied. We watched as the refuse collectors walked up and down the street, emptying and returning the bins, but more than that, they were providing an essential service to every home owner. Big picture, where would we be without these heroes, doing the noble work that many of us don't fancy, in all weathers come what may? The dictionary defines a hero as: a person who is admired for their courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. If our noble refuse collectors didn't do a great job, we'd all be swimming in vermin, decay and pestilence. I know I would prefer they do the less-than-aromatic work requiring early morning starts than me, and because they do and they do it well, they're heroes to me.
Think about the carers of the young, old, infirm or vulnerable, particularly those who care only from a place of love. Heroes! The compassion and healing these pure souls offer their loved ones is a superpower - no doubt about it. Their everyday lives, consisting of endless caring, healing and nurturing are hard as hell, and not everyone can (or would want to) do it, which makes carers heroes to me.
Best friends, you know the kind that has your back, knows all of your faults and quirks and loves you anyway? The ones who go above and beyond in ways you hadn't even imagined, until you needed them, and they were there with bells on. Heroes! These are the types of people you didn't even think existed, much less that they could love and care for the likes of you. This unconditional support and attentiveness is a superpower - because not everyone is capable of such generosity of spirit or selflessness. In a world of selfies, it is only your BFF's that are selfless.
WHAT'S YOUR SUPERPOWER?
So what is your superpower? Granted, you might not be able to fly like Superman, or smash like The Hulk, but what can you do? Make no mistake, you do have a superpower. The problem is we're bombarded with messages like: How To Get A 6-Pack In 7 Days, or How To Lose Back Fat Before Christmas, on top of all the new gadgets and gizmos you simply must have to enrich your life. Now I'm all for self-improvement, and if you want a 6-pack, no back fat and a new digital epilator then you go for it, who am I to stop you? What I am encouraging you to do is stop for a while, get off the (social) media carousel and be quiet. In your quiet space, truly identify with who you already are, and shine a light on what you're already good at, what your strengths already are. From there, the rest is easier. If you would like some help with this, you know where to find me. No, unfortunately there is no Karan Scott Coaching daft-bat signal - yet! - but my ego may just inflate enough one day to warrant one. In the meantime, email me.
So maybe you're not so great at sport, not at all physically co-ordinated, that's okay. Perhaps your superpower is problem solving - perhaps you are an incredibly visual person, who can visualise solutions easily, whilst others are left scratching their heads? If you didn't set the world alight academically, okay - but you do know how to farm an allotment, which yields beautiful and nutritious food for your family? How is that not a superpower? Maybe you've had thirteen attempts at passing your driving test and, frankly you'd be safer taking a taxi for the rest of your life - but you can calm and soothe a severely autistic child every morning at your day care nursery. Not everyone can do that, which makes this your superpower.
So you see, you do have a superpower, you maybe just need to find out what it is, if you don't already know. You're as ordinary as Bruce Wayne, but out of your life's challenges and/or darkness, your superpower can emerge and evolve. I would love for you to contact me and tell me what is and, I promise, if it involves masks and capes, your secret will stay safe with me!
One last important point to underscore everything I've said here. You know I told you my son's bedroom walls are lined with posters of superheroes? Well, amongst those posters are framed photographs of me, his father and his sister, because we "are all superheroes" to him, and not one of us has X-ray vision or a fully functional web-slinger!
Superheroism is about what you can do that either no one else can, or is prepared to do. Your superpowers are simply your talents, abilities and intentions that you blast out into the world, for the benefit of others. So I will ask you again, what's your superpower?