I love cartoons and I don’t care who knows it. More than once, I’ve found myself watching “The Amazing World of Gumball” long after my kids have left the room—I don’t change the channel once I realize I’m alone, either.
And the Pixar/Dreamworks movies? Don’t even get me started. To this day “Kung Fu Panda” is one of my all-time favorite films, and if you know me at all, you know that I love to quote Master Oogway: “A man often meets his destiny on the road he takes to avoid it.” That old turtle is a smart mo’fo.
There’s a lot of hidden wisdom in these movies, and as a parent, I appreciate that my kids are getting exposed to positive messages in entertaining ways. But sometimes, said wisdom speaks to me too.
Enter Stage Left: today’s parable.
So the other day I was watching “The Incredibles”—another great show—and a scene caught my attention that I had never noticed before. Dash, the boy with super speed, isn’t allowed to play sports because his mother, Helen (Elastigirl), doesn’t want his powers to be exposed. He argues that their powers are what make them special. Helen tells him that EVERYONE is special, and he replies, “Which is just another way of saying NO ONE is.”
Now, I can relate to Dash. I’ve been told before that I’m unique. That I’m gifted, powerful even. For someone with an ego the size of mine, this is news I love to hear. Repeatedly. But the thought of everyone else on the planet being just as special as me…well…it makes me feel less special. There’s only ONE Superman, after all. If everyone were just like him, we’d all be flying around in ridiculous outfits. Dash seems to be right—when everyone is special, no one is. Then suddenly I thought to myself, “But you can’t bring Superman to a Kryptonite fight. That’s why there’s a whole league of heroes. Each individual is crucial to the collective.”
Yes, I get this deep with cartoons.
Enter Stage Right: the point.
While traveling this spiritual path, I’ve caught myself aspiring to become my heroes—Eckhart Tolle, Mother Theresa, Katniss Everdeen. I say “become” because I’ve been operating under the misunderstanding that in order to lead and inspire, I have to change who I am, fundamentally. I should be more present, more compassionate, and more graceful under pressure…which means I should probably cuss less and cut back on any drink that has a warning from the Surgeon General.
But “The Incredibles” inspired me to explore how my own unique abilities are important to the collective. My humor, my humility, my own spin on the wisdom I picked up while walking around Rock Bottom. I wasn’t put on this planet to be anyone else but me. Chances are I will never experience ego death as Brother Tolle has. The gracious Mother visited far more orphanages in her time than I ever will in mine. And while I very well may lead a revolution with a flaming arrow in my grip, I’ll probably say “FUCK” a lot more than Katniss did. The more time I spend trying to walk this path like someone else, the more I rob the planet of the gifts only I can bring.
This is where I leave you: Earth needs saving, and there is only one YOU. What unique super power do you have that the world is waiting for?