From Dr. Jane's Notebook

Become a Superhero ~ it's never too late


      As thousands of people gathered in New York City at Times Square to watch the glittery ball descend, marking the end of 2006 and the beginning of 2007, the television announcer described the crowd as “contemplative.” As he repeated this word, he noted the contrast in the mood of this crowd with crowds from previous years which he described as more “festive.”


      In Greensboro, an informal poll of my friends revealed a shift from their usual desire to be “out and about” on New Year’s Eve to a desire to be at home with their children. As one friend articulated, this has been such an exhausting year locally, nationally and internationally, it is difficult to know what to feel. We bantered back and forth that there must be some midpoint between feeling totally at ease and totally stressed out. As I imagined the ideal midpoint, images of superheroes from old comic books flooded my mind. Perhaps that’s it! Perhaps each one of us needs to become a superhero in our own right. Let’s break it down!


·         Find the Superhero inside of you. Most fictional superheroes fall into one of two categories: there are those with multiple powers such as Superman, and there are those with specific powers, such as the Fantastic Four. While there is no doubt about the integrity, good looks and morals of Superman, the problem is he’s so good at everything that he doesn’t have time for a life. What’s more, everyone including himself, expects perfection. In contrast, the Fantastic Four are portrayed as basically normal people who have acquired specialized super powers. You know, one is very flexible, one can turn invisible, another is very strong, and so on. From my perspective, each one of us has special strengths. Our strengths may correspond to our occupation, a specific talent, or even our personalities. Given the opportunity to become a superhero, what would you say is your particular strength?

·         How would you like to help the world? Events of the past decade have demonstrated our ability to weather crises, natural disasters, and war. Following each of these events, workers and volunteers have become local heroes, working tirelessly to re-establish life and community resources. Inevitably, we will all take our turns helping others or being helped. Are you the sort who will willingly volunteer or wait until you are drafted? To enrich your own life, take time to help others.

·         What would you like to be known for? Do you take pride in caring for animals? Are you sensitive to the needs of children? Do you care enough to help your neighbors? Are you generous toward those who are less fortunate? Among the many needs of our planet, what is your top concern? Our world needs lots of help. No task is insignificant. Everyone who helps is a hero in my book. What’s more, through watching us, children will learn that they too should behave as able guardians of the world.

·         All the world’s children are learning from our behaviors. In an ideal world, children grow up in an atmosphere of love, trust and respect where they are well-nourished and free from harm. But in reality, many children are traumatized by events both outside their homes and inside their families. It is important to realize that when it comes to children, we are all teachers. When we teach children useful skills and ethical choices, we enrich the world for everyone. When we teach children how to take care of themselves, we become a superhero to that child.


    Getting back to the discussion with my friend, while this is not exactly a good time in history to let down our guard, studies demonstrate that we can’t live healthfully in a state of constant stress either. What can we do? We can cultivate our personal strengths, clarify our values, and develop the superhero within us. As for the future, invest in the children in your life. They will need your very best guidance to turn this world around!

©Copyright, 2007, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.            

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