The Immortal Christopher Reeve
Or any other hero, for that matter?
Take a look around. They’re dropping like flies.
The most recent? Aaron Hernandez, a promising young tight end on one of the most prestigious football teams in history, the New England Patriots. And now cooling his heels while he awaits trial, being accused of murder. Then we have:
Lance Armstrong. Winner of the Tour de France a record seven times. Creator and head of the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Cancer survivor. One of the biggest reasons you see all those pains-in-the-ass cyclists running down YOUR road in groups of 10 or more, helmets bright and bikes light. Now he’s just a headline, the latest in a long string.
Michael Vick. Quarterback extraordinaire. In his heyday, you saw so many number seven jerseys running around, you’d have thought he could walk on water. And many a teen thought he could. Now? Working hard to erase from John Q. Public‘s eye the images of dog strangulation, drowning, pit fighting and execution killing.
And how about Charlie Sheen? MAN, I love his acting. Buuuuut….didn’t like him so much when he was running around with hookers, his kids treating them like their nannies, while ol’ Charlie is stomping around telling folks all he has to do is squint real hard (I kinda got an image of Barbara Eden in “I Dream of Jeannie” wriggling her nose here), and he could fix his own brain immediately. Because he really wore a superman costume under his clothes.
I could write this post for a week, and exhaust you all with the list of celebs and stars who have disappointed us in one way or another. There just aren’t very many high-profile folks out there who view themselves as people who are just given their talent through the grace of God and maybe should be a bit more humble. They succumb, seemingly one and all, to the various temptations and pitfalls of the lifestyle to which they are exposed, and reveal themselves to be, God forbid, just regular old citizens with weaknesses just the like rest of us run-of -the-mill lunch pail types.
Something, by the way, the rest of us knew all along.
Heck, when I was a kid, you either wanted to be Superman or the President. Now? Superman – yeah, sure. The Pres? Not so much.
And speaking of that, I think Christopher Reeve might be the last hero I really remember.
And not as Superman, either.
Here we had a stalwart young man, the Superman dynasty square in his back pocket. Then along comes cold, cruel fate. And Mr. Reeve, a competition-grade equestrian, is thrown from his horse and breaks his top two vertabrae. The result? He couldn’t breathe without a respirator, and was confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. And that life lasted only nine years – not quite a decade, and what did he do? During his last nine years on earth, he lobbied constantly for others suffering the same injury, created the Christopher Reeve foundation, and co-founded the Reeve-Irvine Research Center.
See, Mr. Reeve (yeah, he certainly rates a Mister) recognized that he’d been given gifts. And those gifts are very fragile – and absolutely can be yanked away with the blink of an eye.
Oh, trust me. Even though my first book has been on the stands a meager four months, I can even feel the temptation. “I’m an author” comes unbidden to the end of my tongue so many times in the course of conversations. And then, thankfully, I’m held up by one word flitting across my forehead. “So?”
Christopher’s life makes it obvious what we should all recognize, whether we’re good with a bat, a ball, or a pen. You ain’t no hero by virtue of the gifts you’ve been given. You attain that lofty status as a result of what you do with your gifts…