When I was young, my hero was James Bond (Sean Connery’s version in particular). James Bond was suave, sophisticated, always found a way to get out of a tricky situation and got the job done. The best thing about James Bond was that he didn’t need an alien super power he was just great at his job. Okay so he had some pretty nifty gadgets to help him but his talents like being a champion skier and bilingual in Japanese were eminently believable and achievable for us mere mortals.
Wonder woman – don’t you just love her outfit?
We love superheroes and I think it’s because ultimately we don’t like the fact that we are vulnerable human beings and sometimes we don’t want to admit to our frailties. We make mistakes. Sometimes we drop the ball and we don’t always get the girl (or the guy) that’s for sure!
Today I sat talking to a neighbour and friend who has been jetting all over the world over the last few weeks for work. Being away from home, D explained that a lot of things have piled for him up at work and at home. He was exhausted and yet he said that he needed to do a DIY job at home just so he could feel a bit more in control by having achieved something on his enormous to do list. The sad thing is that I, like many people I expect, can totally relate to this.
For years I felt that I needed to perform like a superhero. If one task was ballooning out of control, then the answer was to simply take on another to prove I could perform that one like wonderwoman and also to deflect attention from the task that wasn’t performed to my own standard of perfection….. My weekends were regimented in such a way that I could achieve the multitude of tasks I lined up for myself each week and heaven forbid anything (like a social activity) should throw my timetable out of sync!
Being in hospital for 2 weeks recently I was panicked to realise that I had missed the first 2 weeks of university – never mind the office work piling up and all of the other daily tasks that needed to be done at home. To cap it all, on coming home I was under strict instruction to take it easy and not to carry out certain physical activities. Some of the fundraising projects I had planned needed to take a back seat. I had to take it easy for the first 5 days at home. I assumed that meant doing ‘half’ what I normally do.
So five days after being discharged, I headed back for half a day back at work, came home to tackle the housework and crashed……….help! Somebody needs to find the kryptonite that has paralysed me!!!
Superman’s nemesis – Kryptonite
I was horribly unprepared for my first university tutorial and stammered my way through the session. For the very first time, the real prospect of failure loomed large in front of me. What happened to wonderwoman who can do anything she sets her mind to? The thought of failing at something important to me is the most terrifying thing in the world and yet by driving ourselves forward at breakneck pace we all set ourselves up for failure constantly.
Maybe It’s time for me to take a look in the mirror and see that I am hurtling towards the age of 50 – I need glasses to read the fine print and I no longer have the energy of a 17 year old student!
So what if it takes me longer to complete my studies than I had planned? I will still get there if I make an effort. So what if there is a pile of ironing! There will still be something to iron tomorrow and if the garden looks untidy – well it will still survive if I don’t manage to do all the weeding in the next week.
The real superheroes in this world are those people who don’t pretend they can do everything. They are the ones who put aside the ‘urgent’ task to listen to someone else’s problems. People who take time out of their own busy lives to help someone else – whether it is an elderly parent or their neighbour across the street.
So to all of these superheroes, I salute you and oh, by the way, next time you are passing, any chance you can you help me look under the sofa for that kryptonite that’s holding me back from my superpowers?……..