I've just started listening to This American Life. I know, late to the party, as usual. But I'm seriously in love with the short-story concept. My favorite episode so far is How To Win Friends and Influence People, and my favorite part within that is "People Like You if You Put A Lot of Time Into Your Appearance."
In it, Luke Burbank tells the story of a man he met on a plane. The interesting part, is that the man was wearing a superman costume.
But he doesn't just wear it on the plane. Luke stays in contact with Superman, and eventually spends the day interviewing him. Superman's wife died at a young age--and since then, he had simply decided that life is too short to be boring and mediocre. He wanted to do something special, something with meaning, something unusual.
So he took his love for superheroes and starting sewing his own costumes. He wears Superman in the summer, and Batman in the winter. After work, he'll go out for the day all dressed up, hanging out in public places and talking to anyone who's interested.
What the hell? Is probably the first question that comes to mind. But actually, his 'why' is pretty simple.
It makes people happy. The way he sees it, if someone is pumping gas and Superman pulls up at the next pump, you've just made their day. They have something to talk about. A funny story to tell. And can anything bad really happen on a day you say hi to Superman?
We live so much of our lives chasing arbitrary shoulds and check-points. We all complain about how society wants to trap us in boxes, yet we still beat ourselves up when our lifepath doesn't look like Jane Jones' or the most recent "25 Things To Do Before 25" list. Even worse, we're still so quick to judge others when they start challenging how 'it's supposed to work'.
So just as a reminder: these lives are ours, and we create them every day through the choices we make. We are never done. We are never stuck. We have tremendous (usually untapped) power within us to stand out, make a difference, be happy. And so long as we're not hurting anybody, there's no real reason to avoid the crazy thing written on our heart. Just go do it.
A grown man walking around his small town in a Superman suit is pretty crazy. But dedicating your life to making strangers smile is pretty genius.
Happy Thursday! xoxo