Super Inspiration

By | Thursday, August 20, 2020 Leave a Comment
I don't know that I've actually mentioned it on my blog here, but shortly after I put it on hiatus back in 2018, I was hit by a car. I was just crossing the street on the way to work, and this guy zipped around the corner and plowed right into me. Shattered my left leg, and broke and dislocated my right shoulder. I was in the hospital for three weeks, and wheelchair-bound for another 7-8 weeks after that. I literally had to learn how to walk again.

Not surprisingly, that put a bit of a crimp in my ability to run as well. Before the accident, I would run a six-mile-run four days a week, and I trained for and ran a full marathon every year. That's well over a thousand miles of running every year. I'd have to replace my running shoes every 3-4 months.

Right now? With a lot of effort, I can do a three-mile-run three days a week.

That I can run at all is amazing, I think, but it's still frustrating not to be able to push myself in the ways that I did just a couple years ago. When I get to a mile-and-a-half now, I feel like I used to when I'd get to 10 or 12 miles before.

Thing vs Dr. Doom
But, because I grew up reading superhero comics, I keep heading out. Running until my feet hurt, and my lungs can't take in any more oxygen, and I'm wring-your-shirt-out soaked with sweat. And I look at the road ahead of me, and I start moving again. Why? Because that's what The Thing would do. That's what Batman would do. That's what Monkey D. Luffy would do. They will fight until their literal last breath, and then summon the willpower to get up and keep charging ahead.

That's the beuaty of superheroes, of course. It's not the super-speed or flight or whatever other amazing powers they possess, but that they have an indominable spirit that challenges us, the readers, to live up to their example. You're never going to get blasted by cosmic rays and gain fantastic stregth. No matter what you do, you'll never be able to become Superman. Or Spider-Man. Or even Green Arrow. Those characters are all fictional ideals to inspire us to be better, not to aspire to become.

Batman vs. Ra's al Ghul
That's actually a curious notion, too. I have several superhero-themed songs on my running playlist, and I think about this every time one pops up -- all these superheroes that I use for inspiration? They're not real. Superman is never going to swoop down to save the day. Batman is never going to come to the rescue. Which means I have to be my own superhero. I can't rely on Spider-Man, no matter how friendly he is or who's neighborhood I'm in. He's just not coming.

So I'm looking to these heroes to tell me how to be better for myself, because they're fictional and will be unable to help me for real. There's a bit of irony in there, I think. Pushing yourself towards a fictional ideal because the proponents of that ideal are themselves fictional.

I read comics about superheroes as a kid because their adventures were fun and exciting, and showed the power behind the proverbial never-ending battle. I read comics about superheroes as an adult because their adventures are fun and exciting, and show the willpower behind humanity's never-ending struggles. And while that doesn't make the next three miles I need to run any easier, it does make them more attainable.
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