In the past few months I have done a lot of soul searching (as you, loyal reader, have been privileged to witness) and I have come to a realization:
I like being the hero. In fact, I am addicted to it. And if I keep it up I will eventually break down.
Ever since I can remember I have been an overachiever. Try out for the team, take the hardest class, run for class president, receive a law degree, volunteer for various and sundry causes, testify at the United Nations, save the world etc, etc so on and so forth.
That sounds wonderful doesn’t it? But it isn’t. It is stressful and harmful to my sanity.
I hate to admit it but I now realize I do this for praise. And being a praise junkie is a rough gig; once you do one great thing, you have to do something even more remarkable the next time. You start by getting an “A” on the history test, then become student council president, then go to law school, then get a great job, then save Pittsburg from a flood, then help North America remain solvent, prevent a nuclear war and save the world from a meteorite – get the picture?
There is only one problem with this: I am not Superman. I am Mark Furnish -- just a guy. And since I am human, I can only do so much. 99.9999 % of life is out of my control. But that doesn’t stop me from trying to alter the universe though my sheer will. Sometimes, by chance, I am successful – but I fail most of the time because it is impossible to be perfect – and as a praise junkie, this really bothers and upsets me.
Saving the world is a tough business. It keeps you up nights. It gives you heartburn. It makes you mean and terse to those who love you. It raises your blood pressure. It forces you to sit in an office on a sunny and beautiful spring day when you could be walking your dog.
I need to stop trying to be Superman.
Don’t get me wrong. Doing things well is important. But being “great” and being a “hero” should not become so encompassing that it ruins the quality of your life.
I was born in 1971. Before that time, how did the world cope? I am not sure but I have a hunch it managed to survive. And the world will continue to spin if I take timeout to turn my cell phone off and kiss my wife as we picnic in the woods with Jefferson Dog on a Sunday afternoon.
Being a hero is a tough job. A fire fighter, who runs into enough burning buildings to save them, will eventually get burned. I need to remember this.