The story of Superman spins the tale of a young baby that falls to earth, is adopted by a loving family, and rises up to become the superhero of the world. He becomes a legend to those he saves, especially Lois Lane – the love of his life.
As a child, I looked up to my father as Superman. Wim Plaat, standing 6’4″ and clocking in at a strong 240lb, was a man that I believed to be invincible and strong. Having the appearance of Clark Kent, Dad would routinely wear a Supertones shirt, emblazoned with the Superman logo across his chest.
In 2007, my image of Dad as Superman was rattled by the startling revelation that my Superman was, in fact, weakening from the cancer that would one day take his life. While visiting Dad in the hospital, I reached to shake his hand and part ways for the day.
One of the best characteristics of Wim Plaat was his hugs. They would envelop you with love and strength. It felt as if you were hugging the strength of a large Oak tree. Yet, on that day he did not have the strength or broadness of shoulders he once carried.
As I stretched out to reach his hand, he gripped my hand to say goodbye (see you soon) and gave me his hand.
As a child, I would marvel at his ability to easily squeeze grip strength trainers. I remember squeezing with all of my might to close the grip on the red handles; unable to pull them together.
In that hospital room, it was my hands that were strong, while his were barely strong enough to give me a firm handshake. Walking out of the room, I leaned against a wall and wept, because I didn’t want him to see the tears that fell as I realized my Superman was approaching the end of his life.
When I read the story of Superman, I see a tale that reflects the reality of our lives. Deep inside many of us lies the desire to be swept off our feet by a hero that will make all things right; plucking us from the impending danger and fear that lurks behind the uncertainty and fear in our lives.
However, the story begins to take an unusual plot twist when you look at Superman as the man who needed to be saved, instead of being the hero for Lois.
See, Superman was the Man of Steel, but his heart still felt Love for Lois. All of his superpowers couldn’t replace his desire to love and [be] loved by Lois. For a man who had everything he could ever want, he was still bound by the laws of Love to the woman he adored.
Kryptonite might have weakened his powers…but a firm reprimand from Lois, in the event Superman was late for a date, would bring him to his knees for an apology.
For all of the power he had to fly, stop bullets, or save the world from destruction, Lois wanted nothing more than the Love he had to offer her. In the same breath, Lois was incapable of any superpowers to offer him in return. In fact, she could likely be considered ‘high maintenance’ due to her constant need for rescue. Yet, time and time again, Superman swept from the skies and reached out to rescue the woman he loved from any harm that would come her way.
When I look at the gift of life we share, I can’t help but marvel at the universe we live in. Many of us have superpowers of technology, intellect, and strength. We have all of the ability in the world to create our worlds as we see fit; employing these tools to build a life that we can call our own and share with others. It is truly a gift to be alive.
In spite of these innovations, none of them can replace our desire to be loved – or to love another. In many instances, life humbles us with this reality. Our money can’t buy happiness, nor is it a stable foundation (Brexit), every drug-induced high comes crashing down to ‘reality’, and our best efforts of finding occupation/distraction cannot come close to hearing the words “I love you” or giving over ourselves to another.
Lois saved Superman.