I Never Reached Superman

A long time ago, when I was six, I remember fondly walking outside the theatre after seeing the Superman Movie for the first time. I was not just simply walking however, but striding, and jumping. I was convinced that if I could just get it all right, I too would eventually be able to fly.

As many women grow up with the ideals of Barbie in their heads, the pretty blond with the attractive figure, closets full of clothing, cute dog, handsome boyfriend, a house, and the corvette. I grew up with thoughts of being Superman, the honest good looking guy every girl wanted, using his superhuman abilities such as super strength, laser beam eyes, super breath, and virtual indestructibility, to flight the bad guys, and save the world.

That really is a lot to live up to.

Superman Movie Poster 1978

Superman Movie Poster 1978

I am sitting here now thinking of all the things I did to try and be a bit like Superman, the physical training I have put myself through, and the risks I have taken. I am not sure why I did it, if it was for the adrenaline or to prove something to myself, but I did it just the same.

When I was young, I used to like to jump off of things, each time I tried to jump from just a little bit higher than the last time. I would sometimes jump off things while riding other objects such as my bike, skis or skateboard, all in the attempt to just see if I could do it, and feel what it would be like to fly just a little bit. I have still not grown out of this really, just last week, I jumped off the roof of a sixty storey tower on a zip line, it was pretty cool, but Superman would have just leaped over the building in a single bound.

If you want to be a superhero, of course you need to learn to fight. At the age of ten I started to study Karate. I had to postpone my studies at thirteen for a couple of years, as I broke my arm quite badly while testing to see if I was indestructible, I am not. I later continued studying various martial arts formally for about eighteen years. I fought a few times, I even managed to defeat the number four ranked fighter on the Canadian kickboxing team several times. I never fought any higher ranked fighters. I found I did not like hurting people, and didn’t really like getting hurt either.  If  Superman kick boxed,  he would be number one, I don’t think he minds the pain so much, but I know he doesn’t like hurting people either.

I did a fair bit of mountain and rock climbing in my life, but for some reason volcanoes were always the most interesting to me, there is just something about their sheer awesome lava spewing power that I found irresistible, and once you get to the top, you not only get a view, but you also get to look in to their centre. One of the most memorable volcanic experiences I had was in the northern Philippines, after climbing the volcano, my friend and I then climbed for hours through the lava tubes inside it, right into it’s underground river systems. There is nothing quite like squeezing through small limestone holes and dropping ten meters or so through pure darkness into pools of fresh drinking water. Another memorable volcanic occasion was when I had a semi active volcano I was standing on in Indonesia erupt right under my feet, thankfully I survived. I had this picture taken of me, standing right over its billowing molten heart less than a minute before it erupted. I ran away in fear  from the top of the volcano as it exploded, I am pretty sure I freaked out a little bit also. Superman would not have freaked out or ran, he would have kicked that volcano’s ass.

Scott Vs The Volcano - Seconds Before An Eruption

Scott Vs The Volcano - Moments Before An Eruption

 

Large waves are another force I have felt a powerful attraction to. I have learned to swim and surf in some huge waves over the years. One particularly wavy January day in southern India, I chose to ignore the warning siren of the concerned lifeguards in the lighthouse on the point, and the people on the loudspeakers warning us of a dangerous wave coming into the bay. I had seen their “dangerous” waves before, and felt I could handle them. Larger waves break further out, so as everyone else was busy getting out of the water, I swam out into deeper water to get ready to body surf this wave.  After a moment, I found as I looked out past the fairly common five meter wave in front of me, I was able to see a much larger wave towering over that one, I would guess it was seven meters high or so.  Realizing it was breaking too far out for me to ride it, I was forced to swim towards it as fast as I could, so as not to get caught in its dangerous break. Once I reached the top of that wave, which was shockingly high, I could see an even larger wave coming, it was already well over eight meters tall, and still growing fast. I swam towards this truly giant wave as quickly as I could, there was no way to get away from it as it was sucking me towards it as it was building its height. I made my way over it just as it was beginning to fall, I am not sure how high it was exactly, I would guess ten meters or so, I remember looking over at the people on the beach, as I crested it, I was both a long ways from them, and towering over them, as they scattered up the beach, and away from the water. Luckily, I made it over the wave before it broke, because when the enormous wave did fall, it fell right over top of the beach, destroying quite a few things, including some holiday houses, the retreating wave then brought all sorts of things back into the water with it, chairs, tables, doors, glass, dogs and even some other people. The next thing I knew I was being sucked a good kilometer or so, at a very high speed out into the open ocean. It took me an hour or so of hard swimming to finally make it back to the beach. Of course Superman would have just started flying and saved everyone, but for me, my own survival was barely possible.

I have saved four people’s lives, two people were drowning once in Goa, and I swam out with a large log for all of us to grab onto and swim back to shore. One time when I was in Thailand, a lady that could not swim fell into a river in Bangkok, I grabbed her hand as she was going under the water to pull her up. Another time in Indonesia, a group of people were trying to kill my rickshaw driver, something about him picking me up on their turf. One of them smashed a large brick into his head, and I stood up to them all. They decided not to fight us both, my driver was bleeding quite a bit from his head, but he survived because of me. I really am quite proud of actually saving some lives, Superman would have done the same, but of course for each one I saved, he saved a billion.

Although I have a lot of stories about things I have done, I look back and notice a pattern of me putting myself in harms way, in hindsight it seems a little bit stupid,  and when I really think about it, I am a little surprised that I am still alive. I tried hard to do as much as I could, but now as I am nearing forty, my body is in its decline, and my risk taking days have ended, I realize, for all my efforts, not for a moment, did I ever come close to being Superman.

Five For Fighting (John OndrasikOndrasik) Superman – It’s Not Easy Lyrics

I can’t stand to fly
I’m not that naive
I’m just out to find
The better part of me

I’m more than a bird…i’m more than a plane
More than some pretty face beside a train
It’s not easy to be me

Wish that I could cry
Fall upon my knees
Find a way to lie
About a home I’ll never see

It may sound absurd…but don’t be naive
Even heroes have the right to bleed
I may be disturbed…but won’t you concede
Even heroes have the right to dream
It’s not easy to be me

Up, up and away…away from me
It’s all right…you can all sleep sound tonight
I’m not crazy…or anything…

I can’t stand to fly
I’m not that naive
Men weren’t meant to ride
With clouds between their knees

I’m only a man in a silly red sheet
Digging for kryptonite on this one way street
Only a man in a funny red sheet
Looking for special things inside of me
Inside of me
Inside me
Yeah, inside me
Inside of me

I’m only a man
In a funny red sheet
I’m only a man
Looking for a dream

I’m only a man
In a funny red sheet
And it’s not easy, hmmm, hmmm, hmmm…

Its not easy to be me

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