Today, I want to be a superhero. Truthfully, I want to be a superhero every day. I hold myself to superhero standards, changing whatever power I should have depending on the circumstances. I always fall short.
I hold myself to those standards anyway. Superhuman standards, a friend called them. Standards I’d never old anyone else to. That would be unreasonable. Standards I’d tell anyone else they’d need to relax. Cut themselves some slack. Give themselves a break. But not me. And if anyone tells me that, they just don’t understand – I have standards.
My friend Hayda once told me this:
Adam’s superpower is to eloquently, precisely and ruthlessly dissect his
adversaries’ logical fallacies and intellectual shortcomings in such a manner
that not only does he annihilate his opponent’s arguments, he leaves his enemy
in such a state that he is utterly unaware he has been defeated. He is a
I have held on to that. Isn’t it funny what affects us?
My wife once told me I was like a pit bull when I had a problem to solve and, in all things, “No one tries harder.” How long ago was that? Was that nearly four decades ago now? No one tries harder. That somehow became my goal. To try the hardest. To never try less hard than I could. To never give less effort than I could. To be that superhero.
Just try your best. That’s all anyone can ask. I have been told this. But I know people don’t mean it. They wouldn’t want their surgeon to feel that way. Or a fireman. If the house burns down, if someone dies, standing among the ruins, the newly homeless don’t pat the fireman on the back and say, “You tied your best.” Sometimes one’s best isn’t good enough. There has to be more.
Taoists tell us to never use more than 70% of our resources. There must be at least 30% left to attract and build new energy, so you can do ti again. So you can continue getting the job done, fighting that good fight, helping those in need, walking the walk. But why give 70% to just fail? Why just throw 70% out the window?
I know 110%, “I’ll give it 110%.” is a stupid thing to say. It isn’t possible. But I know I can dig deep and find more.
But how long can one mine that energy? Without anything else present, if it is all spent, what is there around which new energy can accrete? But if one doesn’t, there is the higher possibility of failure. Better to burn out and get the job done, right?
Try the hardest. Even when a problem doesn’t have a solution. Even when the problem is a paradox. Even when there is no problem, but just life. Even when the solution is to stop trying and let go. Especially when it is to let go.
Thus, I am the world’s most unsuccessful superhero. The world’s largest superhero failure. Even worse than The Blue Raja. A bigger flop than The Invisible Boy.
And the more I fail, the harder I try. How’s that working out for me? Not so well.
I’d better try harder.