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

  1. nothingprofound
    Jun 13th, 2011 at 19:13
    Reply | Quote | #1

    You really are a daredevil. Nothing to be ashamed of in all that. From everything you’ve said about your life, yours seems an eminently daring and fulfilling one. I think you underestimate yourself and your accomplishments terribly-you’re worthy of a much higher opinion of yourself. You’re certainly an interesting person.

  2. PBScott
    Jul 30th, 2011 at 23:43
    Reply | Quote | #2

    @nothingprofound
    Thank you very much for your kind comments NP,

    There was always some risk vs reward considerations in my Daredevilry, along with a strange belief that I would not die young, but I guess since my son came in my life I am starting to think the whole thing as being a bit silly. I am hoping stories of my occasional stupidity might stop other people from doing the same types of things.

    As for my opinion of myself I am not sure how I feel, I am a good reliable person who cares about others and takes joy in others happiness. I feel very good about that. Most of the things I listed above were purely selfish pursuits and I see nothing there to take pride in other than saving a few lives, which I am happy about. Still though compared to a doctor, I have barely done very much in that department. And compared to Superman of course nothing at all.

  3. Helena Fortissima
    Oct 21st, 2012 at 07:04
    Reply | Quote | #3

    Based on what you’ve said here, I think you ARE Superman, PBS! Aside from being brave and fearless, you’ve clearly harnessed the powers of invincibility.

  4. PBScott
    Oct 21st, 2012 at 07:29
    Reply | Quote | #4

    @Helena Fortissima
    Ha ha, I wish I was invincible, unfortunately I am getting grey and my hair has thinned.

    The day after my 40th birthday I ended up going to the beach to celebrate and ended up having a nasty fall over a wet stump, leaving me unable to walk for a month. If Superman’s weakness is kryptonite, obviously mine is just simple wood.

  5. Kleopatra
    Oct 21st, 2012 at 08:12
    Reply | Quote | #5

    It seems to me that you had a very exciting life.
    I think by having saved the lives of four people you did come pretty close to being Superman.
    Anyway, since you have a son, I think you are definetely some sort of superhero for at least one person. 🙂

  6. PBScott
    Oct 21st, 2012 at 08:13
    Reply | Quote | #6

    @Kleopatra
    Thanks Kleo,

    I think my son sometimes wonders if I am some kind of superhero, he asks me sometimes if I could climb up this, or do that, and will often test my senses by trying to sneak up on me to steal the remote away.

  7. Janene
    Oct 21st, 2012 at 08:53
    Reply | Quote | #7

    Happy birthday, Scott. You’ve certainly filled your years with a lot of crazy, fun experiences. As for being Superman, I’d aks the four people whose lives you saved. They might have a very different answer than you. 😉

  8. PBScott
    Oct 21st, 2012 at 09:00
    Reply | Quote | #8

    @Janene
    Hi Janene,

    Always nice to have you visit.

    Crazy is defiantly a good word for it, I look back at it now like I used to play in traffic and be proud of myself when I survived. What was I thinking!? Yes though, as you said, it sure was fun!

  9. June O’Hara
    Oct 21st, 2012 at 09:37
    Reply | Quote | #9

    I so relate to this post. I was never quite at your level of daredevil-ness, but looking back at some of the things I’ve done… More than anything, I had a passion for riding horses that didn’t want to be ridden. Often bareback. I wasn’t happy with a horse that behaved. I wanted a challenge — some bucking, etc, and lots of spirit. With the exception of breaking my pelvis (whoops!) I never got hurt. If it was me now, I’d be wearing a helmet.

    I also love body surfing in rough waters.

    At some point, though, I realized I’m not indestructible. It was a sad day indeed.

    Thanks for sharing your adventures!

  10. PBScott
    Oct 21st, 2012 at 09:46

    @June O’Hara
    Thanks for your comment June,

    I rode horses a few times, with a saddle, and got nervous when they galloped, I couldn’t imagine riding a bareback horse that liked to buck. That is daring stuff indeed.

  11. Lorraine Pullen
    Oct 22nd, 2012 at 01:11

    Just one comment… 40 in not middle aged.. its just the beginning of your life. Now you are old enough to really appreciate it. I am over 50 and still dont feel like I am middle aged….

  12. PBScott
    Oct 22nd, 2012 at 01:12

    @Lorraine Pullen
    Hi Lorraine,

    I hear what you are saying about forty not being too old yet, and I appreciate it, I am still strong and healthy, but it is not the beginning of my life, it is likely the middle or near the middle, I would like to be one of those 100 year old guys that look like they are forty, and will try and keep myself strong and fit until that age, but until they find a fountain of youth, I have to believe I am middle aged.

  13. Dennis Hodgson
    Oct 22nd, 2012 at 01:20

    Gosh! I thought I’d lived an adventurous life, but compared with you I’ve been a pussycat. I did do the martial arts (wing chun in my case), although I always thought of it as a kind of high-speed chess game rather than an attempt to maim your opponent. I ‘ve also been a rock climber for more than 40 years, and I’ve only fallen off while leading four times. In fact, I used to enjoy soloing a lot because without a rope the only thing between you and disaster is your own skill and confidence. However, my wife won’t let me solo at my age (66), which is probably sensible.

    I’ve never directly saved anyone’s life, but as an Outward Bound instructor in my younger days I often got my groups into situations where they’d have been lucky to survive without my presence, such as being caught in flash floods.

    Nowadays, my main adventurous activity is cycling: if you think that sounds tame, you should try cycling in Hong Kong. I’m still recovering from a fractured patella sustained at the end of last year as a result of a momentary lapse of concentration.

  14. PBScott
    Oct 22nd, 2012 at 01:32

    @Dennis Hodgson
    Hi Dennis,

    Nice to have you visit my Blog.

    Sorry to read about your accident in the blog post, but glad you are doing better now. I have had some nasty accidents on bicycles in my life, one of them was having my peddle down on a sharp turn as you did. In my opinion bicycles are only as tame as you decide to ride them.

    I did a lot of rock climbing in my early 20s, all of it free climbing, I was getting pretty good at it, when one day I saw them carry a dead man on a stretcher away from the face I was about to climb, so I just turned around and went home that day. I would love to get back into it one day with the gear on, it is wonderful exercise.

  15. Furita
    Oct 22nd, 2012 at 03:42

    Nice post and all I can say is… think and stay young ^^ still be that superhero for others to look up to ^_^

    Make me wish I will be a superhero like figure to someone someday ^^

    Furita

  16. PBScott
    Oct 22nd, 2012 at 04:42

    @Furita
    Hi Furita,

    Thank you very much for you comment.

    I am sure you will be a super hero figure to someone one day. If not you can always get a pet, my cat thinks it is just awesome the way I can open the cupboard to get his food the way I do.

  17. zobop republic
    Oct 22nd, 2012 at 11:44

    I’m gravitating towards the Green Latern. You get a nice ring to go with the super powers.
    All that except the form fitting tights. I don’t like tights!

  18. PBScott
    Oct 23rd, 2012 at 08:50

    @zobop republic
    I like Green Lantern, I have been watching the new series with my son, and they are very entertaining, much more interesting than the movies they make of Superman, I really am very very sick of Lex Luthor, and wish he would just go away forever.

    If it came down to a choice for me to have either Green Lantern or Superman’s powers, I would have to go with Superman. Green Lantern has to recharge that ring all the time, and also he is not immune to aging like Superman is.

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