When I was a small child, I wanted to be spider man.
My older brother and my mom were talking one day and when they asked me what I wanted to be, I replied with my proudest grin that I wanted to be spider man.
My brother, only a few years older than me scoffed and said that it was “dumb”. He was just old enough to understand the reality, I wasn’t quite there yet.
I liked heroes, I liked the idea of swinging across the city and fighting bad guys. Of course, I wasn’t alone, how many young boys don’t want to be super heroes? We live for that.
It’s no wonder that we grow up fighting playground battles against imaginary enemies. In an odd way waiting for that storybook moment, that time to rise above and defeat evil and save the day.
And we should. It’s great for kids to dream, and I can think of no better role models than those who dedicate themselves to helping others. Perhaps it’s presumptuous to think the world or anyone needs us to save it, but between a world of heroes and a world of bystanders, I’ll always take the former.
By our teenage years we understand that our villains wont be super powered, and that the fight will be much more mundane. Perhaps tragedy, or love or work. Our heroes become everyday. They are athletes and presidents. Perhaps generals or civil rights icons. Real men and women who stood for a cause and fought for it nobly.
Whatever cause that we pursue, there would be a fight. So you try to emulate that spark, that assuredness. A little brash, a little outspoken. A little gruffness and a little bit of swagger. A sharpness of tongue or a solidness of build. That little bit of fire that says “I’m ready, I’ve got this.”
You’ve always gotta have a little bit of fight.
We never really are prepared for the truth when it comes.
That most of us will never come across true evil.
That while we may face and struggle with loss and tragedy, they will not be the defining features of our lives.
That heroic hearts outnumber heroic moments.
That the grand test of exactly what we are made of can never come down to one moment in our lives.
That no good man is so good that he has never been ashamed.
That the fight of your life may have already been won or lost without you knowing.
Because the battle is against the bottle.
Or mental illness.
Against your own arrogance, ignorance, or weariness.
Against the drudgery of work
Against the apparent distance of your dreams.
Against reckless self-sacrifice
Against your own ego.
The truth that all too often the fight of our lives is against ourselves. That it drags into every day of our lives. The moments that made our heroes who they are probably never made history. They faced the everyday and overcame their own worst traits, and even then, none did it perfectly.
When I was a kid, I wanted to be spiderman. I’d still like to help the world in whatever way I can. But now I’m a dad and a husband. Work sucks, and the bills suck more. I’m tired everyday. We’ve got another little one on the way and I can’t wait. But it’s not always easy.
It takes a different kind of swagger.
And half the time I’m faking it.
Sometimes I lose my patience.
Sometimes I check out.
Sometimes tomorrow is just so hard.
Sometimes I really impress myself
And they love to see me every time I come home.
It’s not the fight I imagined when I was young.
But it’s a damn good fight.