I think my next-door-neighbors might be superheroes.
They both work with computers (at least that’s what they say) and then, every spare moment, they are off doing superhero-type things.
My neighbor, Jason, runs 100-mile marathons. He’s even done a few 200-plus-mile marathons. These are held in the mountains. He starts running before the sun is up, runs up a mountain all day, then runs down a mountain all night, then runs up another mountain the next day. He wears a headlamp so he can see the trail in the dark. Last weekend, Jason and a friend (who is probably also a superhero) left the house and ran 70 miles—for fun.
“He’s crazy,” Jason’s wife, Allison, says.
I’m not sure Allison is in any position to judge.
Allison is tiny, and she trains in their climbing shed. (Before I met these folks, I’d never heard of a climbing shed.) There is a window in the shed, so I am not technically spying on her when I see Allison climbing up the wall. The wall starts out vertical and then it gets steeper until Allison is hanging upside down from her fingers like a spider. I don’t think this is something ordinary human beings are supposed to be able to do.
Our superhero neighbors never seem to get grouchy or tired. They are always cheerful and helpful. I sometimes bring them desserts because I figure superheroes are too busy saving the world to have time for baking. Unlike normal people, they never seem to worry about calories—hanging upside down by your fingers burns up quite a few, I imagine.
Sometimes, I think it would be fun to be a superhero. I’m a writer, and I started writing late in life, so I figure I need to keep busy if I’m ever going to be any good. But the truth is, writing is easy—not because I am super disciplined or have any super talent. It’s easy because I enjoy it.
Some days I do stare at the proverbial blank sheet of paper for a few minutes, but that’s okay. I look at the pine trees outside my window. I drink a little coffee. I remember how lucky I am to be able to spend time doing something that makes me happy. I think I’m probably as happy as Allison when she’s hanging upside down or Jason when he’s running up a mountain in the middle of the night.
The word “should” kills a lot of joy.
I know a lot of writers who found out they could write and so they decided they “should”—and that was the end of the writing. At that moment, writing became a chore. I know even more people who say they “should” exercise (or save the world) and they never get a moment of the joy Jason and Allison experience every day.
I admire what Jason and Allison can do but, more than that, I respect how much they enjoy it. When they said they were going to build a climbing shed I admit I thought, “How often will you use that?” Every day is the answer. Allison climbs in that shed every single day. Jason doesn’t go running to win any prizes—although I’m sure he’s happy when he does. He spends his free time running for superhuman distances because he loves it.
I’m sure, like me, they sometimes hesitate before they start. Maybe they even get discouraged. But then they do their superhero things—not because they should, but because being a superhero makes them really happy.
Till next time,
Carrie Classon’s memoir is called, “Blue Yarn.” Learn more at CarrieClasson.com.