Superheroes

I wanna be a hero.

Not a superhero like the costumed wonder-boys and -girls in spandex-clad movies.

Although if I wanted to drive my kids crazy, my costume would just be a simple Speedo lycra bathing suit – winsome little curly hairs sprouting from the edges – and maybe a big bright red S painted on my chest.

Better yet, I’ll have the flashy S tattooed on so I don’t have to waste the extra minute painting a letter on every time a superhero emergency shit-case hits the fan.

I’ve never been a fan-boy of the superhero movie genre … I prefer REAL LIFE HEROES… give me Terry Fox instead of Batman, give me Stephen King instead of Spiderman, give me Rosa Parks instead of Wonder Woman, give me Jackie Robinson instead of Superman… you get my idea.

Superman guy

This hairy-S might be better than a tattoo until I decide if I’m meant to be a HERO…

The reason I’m thinking about this right now is because lately we’ve been having discussions during spin class about super-druggie-cyclist Lance Armstrong, one of my publically avowed heroes, drug-fiend or drug-free.

Hero-osity is a Hard Job

I can be pretty forgiving of heroes’ goofs and gaffes because they’re under a huge amount of pressure. Being a hero isn’t easy; it’s like a well-meaning politician trying to save the world but being jabbed at with Zulu-warrior spears from all sides, unable to stanch the gush of blood.

People love to play Lee Harvey Oswald and figuratively assassinate a beloved politician or a desired movie actor or sports star.

Adding “hero” to your resume can be relatively easy, but staying one is damned near impossible.

In the heat of the moment, when crisis strikes, most of us can summon the courage and energy to lift 2-tonne cars off people, or run into voraciously-burning houses to rescue fluffy kittens.

But the real measure of a true hero is someone who can be courageous day-in and day-out when the rush of super-hormones has passed. The strength to do valorous things without a massive wallop of adrenaline coursing through our system is an epic measure of hero-aciousness.

9:11 Firefighters

Heroes are everywhere you look, not just in battle zones, or in ripped and torn 9-11 skyscrapers.

When I was a kid of maybe 9 or 10 years old, I had a classmate John who had hydrocephalus, or an enlarged head from excessive buildup of CSF (cerebrospinal fluid).

Most of us dumb kids, in our ignorance, made fun of John because of the differences in appearance and also his slower mental functioning.

Some days you could see the pain in John’s eyes. He knew he was different, and there was nothing he could do to change his circumstance. I felt badly for his situation but wasn’t “man” enough to stand up for him.

But another one of my little buddies, Billy, befriended and defended John. Billy didn’t care if it made him look like an outsider or feel rejected. Billy was valiant and heroic enough to risk his own reputation to make another less fortunate outcast feel a part of something outside himself.

I admired Billy’s strength then as I do even today. Billy was a pint-sized hero.

But back to Lance.

I spent a number of hours each July in years gone by, watching TV images of the long Tour de France waves of cyclists race day-in and day-out across the flat stretches of French countryside; postcard-scenic riverbanks of gently shifting grain and alfalfa stretched out alongside.

Pedaling in a crowded pelaton for endless hours each day. Hard work, yes.

Then they hit the mountain passes and it was nothing short of miraculous to see the strength and mental toughness summoned to climb the steep Alp and Pyrenees slopes, the Plateau de Beille or Alpe D’Huez.

I was mesmerized. I was gobsmacked and most of the worship was doled out to one athlete, Lance Armstrong.

Lance Climbing

Minute after minute, hour after hour, day after day, he would monster-pedal his way up the hellishly-steep switchback slopes.

And then just when the other riders thought he was broken, he could find another gear in his physical bag of tricks, and destroy the competition. Spinning his muscled legs even faster, he’d leave the other boys in the dust.

It was beautiful to watch.

It was poetry on wheels … no… it was more than that, it was an operatic aria sung at ear-splitting volume… Ah, bravo Figaro! Bravo, bravissimo! Fortunatissimo per verità!

But even then, I knew in my heart of hearts that he was performing his feats with the help of the wonders of medical intervention.

Sure, it disturbed me, but I also thought then and still believe that every other rider that was anywhere close to him on the road was using similar little helpers. It was an even-steven kind of thing and Lance was the very best of the best either way.

Drugs or no drugs, he was superlative. I loved him, faults and all.

He was/is an arrogant son of a bitch like so many top notch achievers and I reluctantly accepted this too. The price of great ability can sometimes be an irritating attitude, thank you Muhammed Ali, John McEnroe, Serena Williams, Kevin Spacey, Pierre Trudeau.

However, bit-by-bit I’ve fallen out of love with Lance. I’m removing my worshipping lips from his ass. His arrogance and deceit has hurt too many people along the way.

Heroes are meant to inspire, not hurt.

There have been many heroes in my life – friends, relatives, strangers – and there will be many more to follow.

I stand at the top of Giant’s Head Mountain here in B.C.’s Okanagan Valley gazing out over the fruit orchards and lake below, seeking sources of inspiration.

I wanna be a hero. But where will I find my own hero-sity?

All I have to do is look and listen and ACT.

I have no concerns over shamelessly borrowing the bright starlight of others who shine my way.

  • I can emulate Dave from the gym who voluntarily serves healthy meals at the soup kitchen every week to the less fortunate.
  • I can borrow the initiative of cousin John who writes country music songs while bravely battling his own cancer.
  • I can draw on the energy of the many who travel to 3rd world countries, giving their time, on their own dime, to deliver supplies and education to intelligent people who need a helping hand up.

Yup, heroes come in all shapes, colours, and sizes.

It’s good to know that the champion’s letter on our chest can be an “S” … or an “s”.

 

Superman Butt

Of course, the S doesn’t HAVE to be on our chest…

 

 

 

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