Saturday, June 22, 2013

My Life As a Superhero, or What Color Is Your Spandex?

So, one of the things I've figured out along the way is that the people I most admire and am personally wowed by are all actually superheroes. I collect them, in fact, and store up their reflected awesomeness in my heart and mind, so I can bathe in the light they generate in the world. They are the epitome of cool, the loci of wonder, and I rejoice secretly each time I meet a new one.

Now, it is worth stating that when I say superhero, I don't mean Phoenix Jones, masked fighter of urban mischief in Seattle, or Superman, or even Wonder Woman. I don't need spandex or bracers or masks to garb my heroes in, though far be it from me to say them nay should the drive come over them. They may or may not actually fight crime in the guises in which they are known; I look on that as a personal choice, unrelated to hero status. I speak instead of the people who, in their public personas, wow me with their awesome, eclectic, one-of-a-kind personalities -- the kind of people who, if you put "and they fight crime!" at the end of a description of them, no one would be surprised.

For example:

She's a red-haired, straight-talking criminal justice grad student with a black belt in karate and a passion for all things caffeinated.

OR

He's a passionate, tattooed, green-eyed man who is an accomplished foodie and amateur chef, who helps children talk while he thinks of ways to show the people around him how they shine through playing games.

OR

She's a gimlet-eyed, West Coast literature prof with a silver streak in her dark hair, who spends her time mentoring those who seek the hidden truths about understanding the mind through culture.

You get the idea? It's like a catalog of the ways someone is spectacular in totally mundane pursuits that, in real life, are absolutely star potential. The primary difference, really, between these people and superheroes as in comics is that the alter-egos of comic superheroes are generally really boring. Their personality is who they are with the mask on, not who they pretend to be to the world. All the interesting stuff really only comes out when they hide their faces. In contrast, these people show off their superpowers every day. Their real-world lives are way more interesting than their masked crime-fighting alias would be, in no small part because they don't hoard their awesomeness and save it for when they wear improbably fitting outfits. They allow their lives to express the person they are, with as few walls as possible between themselves and the rest of the world. I find that inspiring.

In my own life, I try to make this a plan for action. It's part of why I decided on grad school. It's part of why I decided to take the risk and get married. It's part of why I moved cross-country. It's part of why my hair is purple, and it's part of why I write games. I am only here once, and I have no way of knowing how long that stay will last. Being the most "me" I can manage allows me to achieve my own superhero way of life, something I'll keep working toward until I don't work toward anything any more. In the meantime, I will be the superhero I can be, and perhaps one day I'll even "fight crime," for whatever value of fighting crime that takes.

So, since I love to hear these stories, how are you a superhero? What makes you awesome?