Have you heard about how police stopped Batman in Silver Spring, Md. late last month? That’s right. Batman. They pulled him over because his license plate featured only the Batman symbol, no numbers. He was driving a black Lamborghini and dressed in full black and yellow leather Batman attire. “Send me Robin,” the police officer is reported to have said over the radio.
The whole incident is quite bizarre. Until the man behind the mask revealed his true identity and mission: Lenny Robinson, father of three, caped crusader for seriously ill children with cancer and other maladies. He also visits schools to talk about bullying. Lenny is a real, live superhero.
Let’s move west for a moment, to my hometown, Denver.
For weeks I’ve spotted a man at 24 Hour Fitness wearing a rubber crown with red lights. He doesn’t always turn the lights on, and I can’t quite tell what prompts him to do so. But lights or no lights, the bejeweled crown is quite a sight. He looks regal as an African king. He doesn’t engage with other gym-goers — he’s intent on his workout — but I’ve seen enough of him to feed my curiosity. Once, twice, three times and more. Who among us wouldn’t want to know the story behind the crown?
So instead of ignoring him as I’d done in the past (I mean, Halloween’s in October) the better part of me shed all judgment and simply said hello.
“I like your crown.”
“Thank you,” he replied, puffing his chest and standing taller.
“Why do you wear it?”
Pause. Smile. Pause. “So that I always remember I am king of my own destiny.”
Woah. His answer surprises me. We are, after all, standing in a crowded, sweat-filled health club. But it’s obvious he isn’t clowning around. He’s serious. Impact and intention meet in the firmness of his brow, and I’m genuine when I say, “Right on.”
“What’s your name?”
“Nice to meet you, King Matthew. I’m Queen Nancy.”
Batman (aka Lenny Robinson) exists to do good by others. King Matthew wears his crown to do good for himself. King Matthew didn’t share his history, but I discovered from a few of the trainers at the gym that not long ago he’d been overweight, unhappy, anxious, asthmatic. The whole of his life frightened him and he wanted to break this oppressive cycle. With the help of a counselor and personal trainer, he lost the weight and found the confidence to declare that yes indeed, the way he lives his life is up to him. King of his own destiny.
Good for Batman. Good for King Matthew.
We needn’t mask ourselves in order to fulfill our dreams. Superheroes come in all sizes, costumes and colors. Why must we always take ourselves so seriously? That’s the real lesson for me. That, and the royal reminder that we can’t be for others until we exist for ourselves. So stand tall. Pull out the pink wig, red cape or Burger King crown. Who cares what others think? Do as you wish. Do what’s in your heart. Act like the superhero you are.