TWO YEARS AGO
Nephew: Marcus Uncle, are you really Superman?
Me: I am, but you can’t tell anyone.
Me: Because if anyone knows, it will put everyone I love in danger, including you, mom and dad.
Nephew: Ok. I can still wear my (Superman) shirt, right?
Me: Always. (smile)
I know what you’re thinking, lying to a child. It’s something I’ve always refused to do. We all need heroes though.
Nephew: My friends saw you on Facebook dressed as Superman. I told them you really are Superman. They laughed at me. Said to prove it. Ask you to fly. Can you fly, Marcus Uncle?
Me: (deep breath). Sit down. Let me tell you something about Superman. Superman is an ideal. See this logo? (as I typically have a Superman shirt on underneath my regular clothes). It means hope. Do you know how to give people hope? Do you know what it means to be a hero?
Nephew: (shakes head). No.
Me: A hero has three qualities. 1. He is self-sacrificing. That means he doesn’t think of himself first. He is always willing to help others no matter what. He isn’t inconvenienced. He has to give things up, and does so without resentment. 2. He is brave. That doesn’t mean he isn’t afraid. It just means he does it anyway because it needs to be done. 3. He doesn’t do it because he knows he can, he does it because he wants to help others.
Nephew: Can I be Superman?
Me: (smiling) Of course you can. You can give people hope. You only get one chance though. Every time you meet someone, that might be the only opportunity you have to make their life better. Do you understand?
Nephew: (nod) Yes, Marcus Uncle. I want to be Superman, too.
This is why I am how I am. I don’t actually believe I am Superman. I strive to be a super man. I know many that leave me humbled. Men and women that contribute to our lives in deep and meaningful ways, often without even realizing it. It’s simply who they are. I strive to be more super, to be a better person, to do more, to give back to this world that has been so good to me.
Super isn’t about your body. It’s about your heart. Be super.