The Pulse-Pounding Origin!
From my earliest memories, I had two life goals: become a writer and become a superhero. I had everything all planned out; I was going to train in martial arts for several years, then I would make a costume for myself (in the classic red and blue). Finally, I would introduce myself to the local police and let them know that I was going to be helping them to apprehend all the villains of the city.
This was my honest goal. I was fully convinced that this would be how I lived my life, writing novels by day and fighting crime by night. In my childhood understanding of the universe, wanting something was enough to know that you would eventually have it. I didn’t consider any alternatives because I didn’t need to.
As the years went by, life interfered with those plans. I never did learn martial arts beyond a few week’s worth of judo, but I did design my costume. It was pretty snazzy, too, so it is a shame that I was never able to make use of it. It also should have been evident that I wouldn’t really become a crime-fighter given that I always needed to toss a dog biscuit down the stairs into the basement before going down, so that my dog would lead the way and distract any monsters living there while I ran and grabbed whatever I needed.
By the time I was a teenager, a secret identity may have been useful. I was rather shy and so having a mask to hide behind may have been liberating in some ways, but it never really happened. The closest I came to heroics in those days was to take up archery and swordplay in an attempt to emulate Robin Hood.
Throughout those years, I was reading a lot of comics. I still had the dreams of being a hero, but had now resigned myself to living vicariously through Spider-Man, Batman and others. It was also around that time that I started to play various role-playing games. I loved the Marvel Super Heroes game, but even when I played Dungeons & Dragons, I would often play a Paladin, the epitome of the “good guy” in that game. When I joined a group that played other, darker games like Shadowrun, I still played my character as someone with a strong moral code, often with outfits that bordered on superhero costumes.
As an adult, I never lost my love of superheroes and still wanted to do something in life that would let me help people. I ran through a number of career options, ranging from doctor to police officer, but for various reasons never pursued any of them (that other dream of being a writer was still on my mind through it all). When the late, great MMO City of Heroes appeared on the scene, I fell in love. I was able to design my character, design his uniform, choose his powers, and then go fight all manner of super villains. I figured that this was as close as I would ever get to being a hero (aside from maybe virtual reality at some point).
Then the magic happened.
A Hero This Way Comes!
When my first son was born, it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life (the other highest point being the birth of my second). I was thrilled with this new addition to my family and looked forward to all the amazing things we would be doing in the future. One of those things, of course, would be sharing a love of comics and superheroes. I didn’t expect that my son would allow me to become more of a hero than I ever imagined.
My boys have friends who have, sadly, grown up without their dads. In some cases, the dad left when they were young. In other cases, they left before the kids had the chance to know them. In far too many other cases, the dads are at home, but almost completely uninvolved in the lives of their kids.
My family is everything to me. They are the reason that I wake up each morning. They are the reason I want to better myself, so that I can provide more for them. I am far from a perfect dad; I have a temper at times, I can sometimes be too lenient and other times be too harsh, and then there are times where work keeps me away from them more than I want, but when I am with them, I try to be with them.
I like to think that I have a pretty good relationship with my boys. Again, it’s not perfect, but I don’t know if that is even possible. Maybe it’s not even desirable. After all, having flaws and difficulties that we can strive to overcome lets us teach our kids how to do the same. My boys know that life is messy. It’s hard. It’s not always fun. They also know that the most important thing is to love and support one another.
At a point in my life when I had stopped thinking it was possible to be a hero, I became one, simply by doing my best to be a good father. This is something that any parent can do as well. If you want to be a hero, then be there for your kids. Your TV shows can wait. Your cell phone can be put down for a while. Things can wait. Your kids need you. Being a parent is hard work, but it is also the only way most of us will ever get to experience being a hero.
Growing up, I thought that being a hero was about saving lives. That certainly does qualify, but we often underestimate the effect we can have by simply being present in a life. We can guide our kids, make them better than we are. We can build an amazing future simply by raising amazing kids. Any one of us could raise a child to be a president or prime minister. Maybe a scientist or a doctor. Maybe an astronaut. Maybe just someone who is in the right place at the right time to help someone who needs them.
If we all do that, we can all be heroes, and the world can be the kind of place we have only dreamed about.
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