I am an unapologetic and unabashed hero-worshiper. My universe is to be filled with heroes, triumph and success, stylized top to bottom. Every movement, word, and breath selected consciously, willfully, purposely. All wastefulness and inefficiency eradicated. The purified, concentrated essence of existence, all accidents and awkwardness expurgated, that is the mission. And those surrounding me capturing this concept in concrete form, success made flesh for all to see.
I refuse to focus on the mundane, the ordinary, the every-day. Every day is filled with the every-day, and is boring by definition. There is a cliché, “Ordinary people are heroes, too”.
False. Heroes are heroes. That’s why the two separate concepts exist.
In our youth, we played a game—“If you could have any superpower, what would it be?” Super strength, super speed, super intelligence– the ability to have abilities above and beyond, to be larger than life, to bend the rules of the universe to one’s own design.
Watch the average five-year-old child on the playground, and what he aspires to be: Superman, flying at freakish speed and saving the world; Wolverine, healing instantaneously and fighting villains; or a hero of real-world flesh and bone—LeBron James flying through the air, a scaled-down Superman in his own right. The honesty of youth recognizes the beauty of the superhero.
As we age, we are taught to relinquish the attempt and not bother with trying to become superheroes. We slowly have the “super” beaten out of us, and the “mundane” beaten into us—to fit in, sink into the background, do as others do, follow the trend.
But some fight it. Some don’t bend so easily to the beatings.
I want to be Neo from The Matrix, the One, predestined and chosen. I want to see the universe from omniscient eyes, integrating raw data, the atoms and particles of existence combined into whole entities. No blandness, murkiness, or fuzzy borders. Let’s chase the pristine black-and-white edges of perfection.
My heroes were not always of the cape-wearing variety. Many of them were musicians I respected—Michael Jackson or Axl Rose. And later in life, certain sports figures pushed the envelope of human ability to a new climax—Walter Payton, Michael Jordan, Mike Tyson, all redefining and reinventing the game. Still later, I turned to intellectual gods, those who challenged a preexisting way of thinking and perceived the universe from a unique and innovative angle—Plato and Aristotle, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, Tomas Edison, Albert Einstein and Ayn Rand. Most recently, my heroes have been those who have committed their lives to a singular discipline and literally transformed themselves into warriors-of-flesh-and-bone, creating a suit of armor that the Incredible Hulk himself would envy—Dorian Yates, Ronnie Coleman, Kai Greene.
No matter who occupied my admiration at any particular moment, one theme has persisted from early youth: life is about aspiration, becoming the greatest, the biggest, the strongest, the smartest, the fastest, the hero within. Or at least, it should be. One’s attention should not focus or dwell on the accidental and average. The superhero is the artistic manifestation, the concrete representation made flesh, of certain principles, the concepts and values that lie at the core of what moves this world.
When I first started dating Nikki, I watched her and a group of friends play volleyball. During their break, she introduced me to her friends, after which we took a stroll in the crisp spring air. When we returned, her girlfriend told Nikki, “The two of you look like a couple of superheroes walking into the sunset hand-in-hand”.
And I smiled.
I decided then and there to be a superhero. Fifteen months later, we had our daughter. Her name? Raven Storm, of course. What better moniker than a name worthy of comic book pages? She’s the newest addition to the superhero household. Stan Lee would be proud.
I am an unapologetic and unabashed hero worshiper. I need that hero to elevate my soul in times of need, and fly with me to the next level—to raise my spirits and expectations of what lies around the corner…
…to make me want to flip the comic book pages of life, and consume the next square panel with every ounce of my being.
-David A. Johnston