I just think we never really dwell on those things that are out of out consciousness and sometimes it's good for someone to make you aware every now and then, that's all I ever wanted to do with this. I have never in my life pretended to be a professional writer or an amature for that matter but if I didn't write some of these things that I do, some people would never have even realized that a picture may be worth a thousand words but nothing (short of a kiss) could take the place of saying exactly what you mean.
-I love you and miss you all-and yes, especially you...weirdo...
written by Jason Marshall
with selected quotations by: Elliot S. Maggin
with selected quotations by: Elliot S. Maggin
Inspiration can come from anywhere; you can’t see it coming but when it beckons, it hits you like a ton of bricks; yes…inspiration is unstoppable. But the real jewel; what you are always hoping to find is insight. Insight is much harder to come by. Insight can be forged from inspiration just as inspiration can come from some other force about the whole of you that gives you the spark that lights the tiny bits of intrigue into enormous flares of creativity. Yes, insight is what gives you a breath of fresh thinking; a reason to temporarily dismiss and rethink the way you go about doing or knowing everything that encompasses it. From the most obscure places, beyond the reasonable realm of thought, that is where insight comes from…or to be more precise, it comes from the brilliance that lies where you least expect it.
I found insight in the exact opposite place from that…I decided to read a book and from this book, insight would have normally been a pleasant surprise tucked away amidst the ongoing dribble of an over hyped story but before I could even get to the story that awaited my otherwise eager posturing…insight found me. Actually, it was the forward of the book…the introduction to the story itself and even before the words filled my mind, I was instantly astounded. Beginning with the very first thought it occurred to me that this was nothing short of brilliant and if there had been this much thought put into an introduction then there must be much more to everything that undoubtedly lie in wait for me to discover.
“If a person from only a hundred years or so in the past could look in on our lives, that person would suppose that we were not mortals but gods…Our person from a lost century would be wrong about us, of course but no more wrong than we are about our heroes.” -Elliot S. Maggin
Some of you might understand this and the rest of you might think that you really take this to heart but among the best of us (I believe) there is no one that lives it.
“Our proper response to the inexorable march of progress that has brought us to this place and time in history of civilization is to find a way to confront it responsibly. Not modestly. Not unself-consciously. Not with faith in a power greater than ours to descend from the sky and set things right despite our best efforts to screw up. We have an obligation to understand the ramifications of the things we do and to chose to do them or not with our eyes wide open.” -Elliot S. Maggin
No doubt intrigued by this forward, I continued to read on and as it turns out…there are more people out there who believe…
“I have to believe in heroes. I do. I believe in Superman. For real. I really believe in Wonder Woman, so help me. I believe in Santa Claus. I believe that men walked on the moon. I believe that every Passover Elijah the prophet comes over for a sip of wine. I believe in metaphors. Metaphors are real.” -Elliot S. Maggin
I began this life as an impressionable child many years ago and I believed in all of those unearthly things that young boys believe in. I believed in space and imagined how traveling at the speed of light to far off worlds while dodging shooting stars might be. I believed in the stories I’d read and I believed there was more to everything than everyone had to tell me. Throughout the years I was taught the responsibility of adulthood and what it means to be the person I know I was meant to be. To write the things I love and to draw the things I feel but more importantly, to teach the things I have learned to everyone who looks to me for guidance and answers. I am lucky. Luckier than most. I am lucky because I never had to compromise the beliefs I held as a child for the responsibility I needed as an adult. Many of us still enjoy a book or a puzzle, an ice cream cone with jimmies, a daydream and a rainbow, licking the spoon after the cookies slide into the oven but deep inside you “know” because you were “taught” to “be” a certain way because it was the way you were supposed to be, mostly because it was the way it always was and it was the best way anyone knew how…and it wasn’t wrong so it had to be right. I learned that there was no wrong way to “be” as long as you were true to yourself and for me to be true and genuine I had to hold true to everything I believed in, no matter how silly or childish, no matter how romantic or lost, no matter how incredibly crazy and idiotic I chose to dream it was exactly the way I needed me to be. I am lucky because I know me better than I don’t. I am lucky because no matter what people see in me it’s me even if it’s different to everyone. I am lucky because for me I can see the potential in things that seemingly have none and I am lucky because no one has ever succeeded in changing the way I am even though sometimes it frustrates you to no end. So today I write this knowing that one day someone might read this and know that you don’t have to stop believing in superheroes and the tooth fairy simply because you grew up or because someone told you they didn’t exist. The only way to dream is to dream without boundaries to live without compromise and to have faith in those things you always did have faith in, never letting anyone (even me) tell you to stop being everything you are just because growing up to the whole of the world means giving up on a dream for a compromise.
“I have been telling Superman for years that he mustn’t just save lives, he has to spit polish the real estate too. He’s never understood that.” -Elliot S. Maggin
After I read that I knew I had to have a responsibility to continue to do what I was doing…what ever that happened to be…recently, it has become apparent to me that what I happened to be doing was a futile attempt at building a legacy about someone who didn’t need one. So I decided that I needed to do what I was really good at instead. So I thought about what it was I was really good at…but I realized I wasn’t really good at anything except being me and that couldn’t be the answer either, so I kept on reading…
“If we were to peak in on the lives of the people of the Earth in generations to come, surely we would think we were gazing upon
Olympus. And of course, again, we would be wrong. They are our children, our grand children and our successors who will surely stride the Earth as Titans in those days, wearing our own features and our own shortcomings. They are our messengers to that resplendent future. And they will bring with them into their own time whatever values and iconography that we have to offer them today.” -Elliot S. Maggin
I decided that I didn’t need to think so much about all those things that I needed to do because over the years I had already been doing them, only I was doing everything I needed to be doing because I thought it was important to give everyone something to remember me by; to leave a legacy so that people would learn from me. I thought I owed it to everyone who knew me to give them something worth while, something incredible to remember hoping that someone might be inspired enough to do even more incredible things so that others might learn from them…and then, as soon as I stopped thinking so much, I knew that why I was doing what I was-was exactly why I needed to.
Unlike some of you, I do not have children of my own. I do not have someone who wants to love me the way I want to love them back. I do not have youth on my side anymore. I do not have the ability to give more than I have. I only have what I have because everyone has let me. I do what I feel I must do because I believe I have something to give; something that someone who has things I don’t might not have. I believe I can make a difference in my tiny part of the world no matter how small it may be or how large in may grow. You have let me be an uncle to your children and a brother to you. You have let me be an ear to your problems and company to mine. You have let me be your friend when you never had to give me the time of day. You have let me witness your greatness and you have given me the privilege of knowing your faults. You have let me be the fly on your wall and the fixture in your home. You have let me love you unconditionally and you chose to love me back. You have let me hold your hand and you let me be a shoulder to cry on. You have let me do what I wanted even though you knew it wouldn’t turn out. You have let me come back after I have left. You have let me see you looking your best even if your best to me was less than you thought you could be. You have let me be everything to you that I could only have dreamt of being to my own. You have let me into your hearts, tell you stories, draw you pictures, believe in the unbelievable, dream about tomorrow, remind you of yesterday, give you opinions about the present and you have never let me forget what was really important in life. You have let me be me and all over a simple cup of coffee. For all of that; for everything and more, I owe you greatness and I won’t let you down.
As I read on it was apparent that some things I had always done were things that I had always been meant to do…I was just wrong about why I was doing them. I don’t believe so much in destiny but what I do believe in is the right to have one. You see, I don’t need to know what I was meant to do until after I am done doing it…otherwise I might just change what I am doing only to fulfill some predetermined outcome. It’s all a vicious circle and a friend of mine told me not to think so much about things so I won’t think about that until I have a reason to, then I will.
Not without fault, some know me to be sort of like our hero, Superman; Superman I am most certainly not and I am further away from a hero than every mommy or daddy out there putting a damp towel on the forehead of a child but there must be something more to hero’s than the deeds that make them. It’s the idea that when this individual comes around, you feel like anything is possible; they can do no wrong-they give you a feel of hope without ever lifting a feeling…just by showing up. When that fire is blazing out of control, a real hero rides in on his metallic red horse and instantly you feel better, as if there’s hope something can be saved. A hero, renewing hope just by showing up…what a concept. Now I (specifically) am perpetually late…to almost everything and especially late with deadlines. Most recently I have done much better at being on time but I have an unwavering ability to show up. I think the reason that people think of me as a sort of superman is because (even though I am late) I show up when you might least expect it. Now, to me this is only a byproduct of an uncertainty that people have about not knowing when or where I might swoop down from the skies-and for the record, I rarely ‘swoop’-I’m more of a ‘trotting’ type of guy. I love the thought that someone out there looks up to me like I am a super-hero but alas, I am nothing remotely similar to one but everyday I strive to be more like our hero…sometimes even donning a cape and a mask; well…maybe if you know me well enough you might understand that last bit. But the fact still remains that showing up has much to do with the reasons individuals might be considered a hero and without taking anything away from our real hero’s. It just goes to show you that showing up is completely underrated and simply showing up might not be entirely enough. I believe anyone and everyone could be a hero if they genuinely wanted to be; but they have to have a sincerity about them that makes people trust that what they are saying is at least the truth about what they believe or think. It is healthy to think that hero’s are all around us, just as it is healthy to believe that at any given time someone might just pop in and save us for nothing more than ourselves. To me, a hero would be nothing more than someone who decided to stop by and give me the chance to show them why they should stick around but like I said, sometimes it’s difficult for people to just show up when they don’t know they are needed. I am flattered that there might be some argument out there for a guy that seems to do nothing right, while at the same time, could be considered to be a most honored individual who can do no wrong. That alone is just enough to keep me leaving cookies and milk out on Christmas Eve and gazing at the skies for a flash of red and blue.
Like our friend, Elliot S. Maggin; I do believe in hero’s too; I believe in Superman and the likes of incredible, unearthly heroes that continue to inspire that thing within each one of us that fights to get out. That fire we feel when there’s no one to do the job but you; that image that crosses the mind in which quietly screams at out otherwise domicile thoughts to do something incredible because it needs to be done and done now. The thought of a hero is romantic and calming; it makes us all feel safe and especially at a time in the history of the world that you should have something to give you that hope for something better, everyone should have a hero and they should believe like their life depends on it; you should believe like you were four again. If everyone did, I think we could all agree, that maybe things wouldn’t be so bad. But there are skeptics; there are people who think that it’s a child’s dream made story by adults that serves no practical purpose other than to occupy the minds of less than capable individuals who have no reason or right to make decisions for the better of the country, the world or even your small part of it. I call them, narrow-minded and misguided among other names that should never be uttered around the likes of women and children. It just seems like too many people don’t believe only because they were taught not to. It’s like trying to get someone to believe that 1+1=2 after they’ve been taught for years that the answer was 3. Just because you were told that Santa Claus wasn’t real when you were little doesn’t mean he’s not…most of us believe in a god and we listen to people say there’s no god all the time but somehow your faith never waivers. Why not for a hero? Why not in your neighbor? Why not in a love? Why not?
It’s ok, I believe and trust me; I believe enough for everyone who doesn’t.
I do know that there is a possibility that I will grow old and die before ever knowing if I am right about anything I believe; before I know that I was a misguided fool for years worth of wasted time and meaningless pages rambling on about nothing but to me, it would be fine. Why? Because. Let me explain; if no one ever asks the question, how is anyone ever suppose to get an answer? If I were the one to ‘waste’ the time to ask the questions then firstly, I might save someone else from having to do it and they might be better off and secondly, it wouldn’t be a waste after all now would it? But there’s more to it than that; how could I in good conscious tell you things that I didn’t whole-heartedly believe? I mean, it’s like having someone’s life in your hands. I don’t pretend to be a hero, I don’t want to seem like I sound like one but I would love to be a hero to that little boy or girl out there who can look at me like I can fix that one problem that they have. I know that I’m far from it but there are flashes of greatness that lead me to believe that it’s inside of me…and more importantly, inside of all of you. Don’t you love how it feels when that brilliance creeps out only to show itself how amazing you can be; the amazing things you’re capable of…how amazing you really are? I’ve seen it in all of you-every single one of you and there can’t be anything you could possibly say to change my mind about it.
I get it. You know, I really get it. Like when I am at work- there are always people studying me as I hit a few keys, click a few times and just as suddenly as their computer was reduced to an over-priced paperweight, this guy in the orange shirt seemed to bring it back to life. Or when I grab a pencil and scribble on a napkin and to my surprise, create something incredible. I don’t mean for things like that to happen…they just do. I love how that feels and I constantly thrive for that back against the wall situation that forces me to make miracles.
But heroes, real heroes…there’s much more to heroes than that but then again, there’s more to all of us than the outward persona we all exhibit, isn’t there.
It’s about that dare to be great situation and the potential in exceeding expectations beyond anything comprehendible. It’s also about love and what you would do for whom ever you are doing it for. It’s about what it’s worth to you and what’s worthy of you. For instance…
If you loved someone, I mean really loved someone-the really real kind of love, would you change your religion? What if it were life and death, would you then? But that would mean that all of those ‘things’ that you told yourself that you would ‘never’ change-could if the price was right; right? Life is a compromise, life is not perfect; love is and you know when you are in love, the really real kind, that it’s perfect because no matter what happens…no matter what you have to compromise or give up or change about your ‘perfect’ self will pale in comparison to what you will certainly get in return. Heroes know this, they have already learned the reward is greater than the sacrifice and that is why they are heroes. You don’t see how they can do what they do because you don’t think it would ever be worth it. You have never thought for once that it might be better than your petty, conditional, unchanging world that you are perfectly happy keeping exactly the way it is because you are too afraid to learn you were wrong for a lifetime. And what’s funny is that some of you just had this thought about how you put your life in harms way for justice or righteousness or work or love or money and this voice came over you thinking, “He’s not talking about me because I have done it, I have been a hero, I am a hero so this doesn’t pertain to me.” But it most certainly does. If you have done it once or some of the time then you are only cheating yourself and the ones you love or might love by not living by the same standards…what, it’s only good to help strangers on occasion or for work? I thought so. Be heroes to the ones you love every day. Who knows, I might be wrong about all of it; I’m not afraid of being wrong. I have been wrong before and I will be wrong again…how else will I learn-it’s not like I know everything but I sure do know more than you (just kidding)…(not really). Heroes are more than I could ever know everything about and I just know that talking it out always helps to sort out the useful from the uselessness…but this time I think I am pretty right. I live among heroes everyday and they don’t even know it.
I love to refer to this as often as I can only to stress a point; let’s look at the career of Michael Jordan, did you know he has the record for most missed field goal shots in NBA history? He has missed more shots, 12,345 to be exact, than anyone else but he is touted as the greatest player in the history of his sport-how can putting up the most bricks ever translate in to the hero to millions? I’ll tell you how- He is the 3rd on the all time leading points scored list in NBA history…so to be the greatest means you have to (sometimes) be the ‘Most Losing Player’ as Michael referred to himself in one interview. If you don’t put up the shots, how can you make them? The only way to land an off balance shot is to attempt it to begin with. If you’re going to lose anyway, try to lose doing something great…who knows, you might just end up putting one of those spectacular losses in the win column just because of the attempt. Heroes don’t think they are doing anything amazing until after they hear about it…they just know they have to try.
People like Mike, Santa, Superman, Mothers, Fathers, movie stars, musicians, scientists, poets, artists, engineers and the likes aren’t heroes because of the great things they did; they are great because of the things they did but they become heroes because just once, something or many things they have done inspired us to do great things; amazing things and in some cases, heroic things of our own. We believe in them and we trust them and we are inspired to emulate them because after all, if you have evidence that it has been done before, why can’t it be done again? And why not by you? We must agree that no matter if we like the person or not, the hero is admired and awed by the masses because of the feeling someone gets when their soul is touched in such a way that incredible things have the best advantage at becoming reality to your own astonishment.
Everyone has a hero; everyone believes in someone or something…after all, even heroes have heroes.
This has been a wonderful experience for me, I thought to myself as I finished reading this poetic introduction to a book that I thought would never hold up to my expectations now. Nevertheless, I decided to press on and dive into the book with a skepticism reserved only for late-night CNN know-it-alls and FOX newscasters. This was when I found out something even more amazing that everyone really already knows deep down inside but would never speak aloud without the steadfast retort that genuinely follows a statement of outright blasphemy toward our heroes…and that was the reason I now decided to need to keep reading.
Everyone can answer the question, “What can stop Superman?” and of course in your head right now you might be screaming kryptonite and yes, you would be correct. Or perhaps you might know how the Green Lantern can be stopped cold? If you knew it was the color yellow, you get a gold star. And with all of the power in the universe, our heroes are given weaknesses to bring the gods closer to earth, where we might feel closer to them; where we might see how ‘human’ they really are just long enough to make the connection in order to decide that we might be heroes too. Now here’s that retort I was talking about… No matter how many times you see that green-glowing crystal that brings the Man of Steel to his knees, you are always sure that it’s more of a ‘how’ is he going to get out of this jam instead of an ‘if’ he’s going to and that’s what was what was so incredible about the words that wrapped around my brain. It wasn’t a given; it wasn’t even close because as soon as it started off-the heroes were given the world’s greatest flaw, the ultimate weakness; they were gone.
Sometimes I wonder what a world without heroes would be like…and I suppose it would be much like a democracy where no one does anything unless the whole of the people vote to make it happen. A place where no one stands up and tries to fix something because they feel the need to because they have the keen sight to see and the fortitude to take responsibility for their actions in case the outcome is less than the whole of the world expected in hindsight. But what happens in a world where everyone is a hero and no hero stands above the rest; no one more powerful than the last to set an example for the rest? Well my friends, they cease to be heroes ever more. Heroes are more than unstoppable masses of good that clean up our messes and that’s exactly what this book reminded me-that nothing, not even our heroes can escape from being heroes, even when they are gone. There could be someone there that’s as strong as Superman or as fast as the Flash but when you look deeper into what makes them a hero; when you really take the time to see why they do what they do, that’s where they begin to stand apart from the rest. A hero is more than wanting to be one and having the powers to back it up. A hero is being heroic despite the dangers and adversities that face them. A hero begins with the heart and ends with the sacrifice of self without ever thinking that they will be around to have the chance to be a hero again.
Wikipedia defines hero as:
A hero (from Greek hērōs), in Greek mythology and folklore, was originally a demigod, the offspring of a mortal and a deity, their cult being one of the most distinctive features of ancient Greek religion.
Later, hero (male) and heroine (female) came to refer to characters that, in the face of danger and adversity or from a position of weakness, display courage and the will for self-sacrifice, that is, heroism, for some greater good, originally of martial courage or excellence but extended to more general moral excellence.
The literal meaning of the word is "protector", "defender" or "guardian" and etymologically it is thought to be cognate with the name of the goddess Hera, the guardian of marriage.
Wikipedia also goes on to say:
The most compelling reason for the hero-as-self interpretation of stories and myths is the human inability to view the world from any perspective but a personal one. The almost universal notion of the hero or protagonist and its resulting hero identification allows us to experience stories in the only way we know how: as ourselves.
I have always known that a hero is defined by their heart. I wish everyone understood that in the way I do. If you spent enough time working out your heart like you do those muscles, you might just find yourself closer to being someone’s hero. I could go on telling you how you all have been my heroes at one point in time or another-listing every time you might have been there to save me from a lonely night or a bad decision only because you loved me enough to be there. I could write leagues on how my father is a hero of mine for the wonderful heart he has towards everyone and how he passed that on to me. I could talk for hours about my mother who taught me and fed me and made sure I always had the support even though she knew better for me. I could go on about my grandmother, whom I credit with my ability to dream and draw only because she was the one who sat down and taught me everything about that pencil that I ever needed to know. Like I said, I could write forever about each one of you and how specifically each of you have been a hero to me but then this might turn into a thank you letter more than it should be a realization.
In the end, I wanted to give you something to hold on to, something to remember this by with an incredibly clever closing that would send shivers down your spine so you might retain my thoughts so you might use them when you need to. I wanted to give you something just as heroic as that book I read; I wanted to show you that you can be a hero all of the time when it comes to your heart and how much you’re willing to give. I wanted to show you how to believe when life’s at it’s bleakest. I wanted you to know that even if you have been a hero in the past, you can continue being one despite the world around you saying don’t. I wanted you to know that standing on that building with that cape waving in the breeze while people notice that great deed done does not a hero make. I wanted to save you from the mistake of self proclamation and manufactured heroism that comes with fancy costumes and shiny cars. I just wanted you to be a hero to everyone else, just like you have been to me…especially if you don’t think it will be even mildly appreciated. You could be great, even incredible and amazing but remember that when you decide to use your heart because it’s the right thing to do you become unstoppable and everyone will know without a word that they are Among Heroes.
“The people that are trying to make the world worse never take a day off, why should I” -Bob Marley