I have a co-worker who sometimes asks, by means of a greeting, "Are you more excited now than you've ever been?" Within the context of a sea of beige cubicles, it's obviously meant to be taken ironically. But, on the occasions he's asked me, I answer with an unflinchingly serious, "Absolutely." Because, on the whole, I am more excited now than I've ever been.
Like many comic fans, I've read my fair share of Stan Lee stories with his penchant for unabashed hyperbole. It was a style that Roy Thomas adopted early on, as well. I've got a lot of that style of writing rolling around in the back of my head, and it's absurdly easy to tap into. Especially since I also watched the Marvel cartoons where Lee did the narration, so his inflections and the cadence of his voice are a very real parts of my childhood.
But I think I also picked up on the perpetual enthusiasm that's inherent in "Excelsior!" Lee always used it when he was parting company, but there was an inherent implication that things would be EVEN BETTER the next time your paths crossed. The next issue was going to be that much more powerful. The next "Stan's Soapbox" was going to be that much more insightful. The next episode was going to be that much more awesome. "Onward and upward to greater glory!"
The notion is, at a philosophical level that I suspect Lee didn't necessarily take entirely seriously, one of a deliberate attempt at continued and ongoing progress. Do better today than you did yesterday. Don't dwell on the past because it's over and done with; focus on what's coming next. It's not necessarily optimistic in a "sun will come out tomorrow" sense, but it seems to acknowledge that stumbles and backsteps will occur. But you keep going and, on the whole, you make progress in the long run.
Several years ago, a colleague commented how he was looking forward to the upcoming holiday because we got a three-day weekend. I responded that was great, but I was ALSO looking forward to the subsequent four-day work week. He said something to the effect of, "That's what I like about you, Sean. You're always looking ahead."
A curious by-product of this notion of always moving forward is that I have little sense of nostalgia. Oh, there's some there! There are some comics I have an unusually high fondness for because of some memory associated with them, despite critical scrutiny that might suggest a more tempered opinion. But I know the "good ol' days" didn't really exist and I don't long to return to any previous part of my life. In any capacity.
No, there's something deep within me that says, "This is the first day of the rest of your life." I can't go back. I can't even try to re-live past glories. I have right here and right now, and I can only go forward. Oh, sure, there was good stuff that happened before now, but any re-visitation of that is going to be tainted. It will be imperfect. All I can do is make the best of where I'm at now, and move on from there.
See, I'm the creator of my own destiny. I'm the one who chooses who I am and who I'm going to be. I can wallow in self-pity on the days when my life sucks, or I can choose to make the best of it. I can work to make my life better tomorrow than it is today. Some days I won't achieve that, but most days I will. Maybe only by smidge, but it's still progress. "Onward and upward to greater glory!"
There are all sorts of reasons I love comic books, but that I'm able to extract a life-long personal philosophy out them that has served me well for the past 30-some years has to rank pretty high on that list.
Am I more excited now than I've ever been? Absolutely; I am going to do something awesome tomorrow! And wait 'til you see what I have in store for the day after that!
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