As I look back at my life, I think my fascination with superheroes boils down to this fact:
Superheroes will always be able to do something I can only dream of.
And I’ve always been a fan of Green Lantern. The member of this corps of space police can conjure up whatever their mind entails. Need a giant hammer to hit that spaceship? Done. Need a massive drill to get to the core of the planet so the volcano doesn’t murder the mole people. Green Lantern. All night.
We have another favorite of mine, Batman. Parents got killed. He trained up. Yadda yadda. We got it.
I have to say that Batman is the better superhero. Yeah, I said Batman. The fanboy of Green Lantern fanboys is setting down his plastic ring. Let me explain.
Recently at my work, I headed up into the LEGO store. You know, blocks. And that’s my moment of bliss. For more reasons than this blog’o’sphere will let me tell, at my company I’m encouraged to get business contacts. You know, spread the word. So long story short, I meet the District Manager of LEGO and wind up connecting my company to them. They’ll have a meeting. Someone will bring donuts. Someone will say, “Oh you, you are so clever.” There’s a butler like in Downton Abbey. I mean that’s how it goes in my head at least.
And all I did to make that soirée happen was that I trained up, I was ready.
Because I made that connection with a story.
In 2012, I bought three packs of random LEGO people. They wound up to be more of a fortune telling device. The first was a painter, and one of my friends, an illustrator, was going through a hard time. I sent him a care package with the LEGO painter included. The second was a punk rocker. My new boss was heavily and secretively into punk rock and I gave that to her as a gift my first day. She still has it on her desk. The third was a radiation suited fellow. I didn’t know anyone involved in radiation so he got sentenced to a desk drawer for six months. Sorry, Stan.
As I was packing, heading to a new job in Afghanistan, Stan the radiation man fell onto the floor. I laughed and realized that he wanted to accompany me. See, I too was now a radiation man and would be heading to Afghanistan to train soldiers on radiation safety. So Stan accompanied me. He was in my ID pouch that I wore on my chest. He went on choppers and airplanes. And I carried him as I ran into bunkers to avoid action on our base.
And as I told that story to this District Manager, she smiled and gave me her card. I didn’t intend to share that story. I didn’t really mean it, but I had it on my belt, ready to go.
That’s why I respect Batman more. Green Lantern can will anything and just be ready with whatever, where Batman has to have limited tools at his disposal and make due. No powers. No limitless energy. Just this concentrated, focused humanity. Batman collects. He takes skills and makes them his own. And now I’ve decided to do that with stories—collect them—and when someone needs them, I’m there.
Storytelling is this concentrated, focused humanity that we share to say, “This is where I’ve been.”
Sorry Green Lantern—I’ll always love you—I just can’t do what you do.