Last weekend I ran a 5K here in Portland called “Run Like Hell.” RLH is a costumed themed road race, and takes place during a weekend in October that is reasonably close to Halloween. Two years ago the theme was Alice in Wonderland, and the request was that the participants wear costumes inspired by the story. Last year the theme was Zombies. This year: Superheros. I was thrilled! Not only do I love the idea of superheros, but I really couldn’t wait to see a few thousand people running around downtown Portland donned in capes, tight, masks, and the fine accessories associated with the hero crowd.
A couple of weeks before the race I posed the question to my Facebook friends regarding how or who I should dress up as. And a really curious thing happened. All my Rotarian friends thought I should go as some sort of Rotary hero. My math friends thought I should go as a math hero. My friends who knew I was an author thought I should go as a GO hero (GO is the name of my book.) And basically, whatever activities my friends knew me through became the basis for their suggestions. Now, that isn’t the curious part. The curious part, was my REACTION to their suggestions. Every time a new suggestion popped up, I would hear my mind say, “I teach math, BUT I’m not that.” Or “I like Rotary, BUT that isn’t all that I am.” And at every suggestion my reaction was some version of “I DO ________, but I AM not ________.”
To be frank, I went to bed that night a little disheartened. Was I really only super because of my activities and hobbies? Was I the sum total of my actions? Is there nothing more to me than meets the eye? I feel asleep contemplating these questions when I had a dream. And in the dream I was flying around (and I don’t often have flying dreams, so this was of some significance.) I awoke from this dream with the thought, “It’s me. I bring ME to what I DO. And if I’m going to be a super something, I can only do my best to be a super me.” And I knew in that moment, that my costume could not be about what I do.
The race has come and gone, but I’ve still got my costume sitting out. I can’t quite say goodbye to a very interesting reflection of me. So for the moment, I have a very visible reminder that we aren’t what we do. We are who we are. And that who we are is going to be unleashed upon everything we encounter. It is my sincere hope for us all that it takes on the flavor of Superhero more often than not…