photo by Hsin Ho
You’d think the name says it all, but really it’s just an outsiders perspective.
Superman has a real name. Actually, he has three. There is the name he was given at birth, “Kal El.” There was the name given to him upon discovery when landing on our planet, “Clark Kent.” And then there’s the name given to him by the public, the name everyone knows, even if they’ve never heard of the other two. “Superman.” How does one begin to know who they truly are when so many angles are given to them?
Simply remain aware of that which is within.
In reality, this is amongst the most difficult things in the world to accomplish. In fact, it’s not exactly normal for most people to do this. The magic in watching Superman is that we know he has a secret while viewing him from the outside. Working at the Daily Planet, the main news source in Metropolis, he hides in plain sight behind a pair of Buddy-Holly’s. This makes the situation more exciting for the reader, since in a way, we get to see life (albeit a fictional one) through the eyes of the creator. Having this tie to such a character makes us feel good, almost as though we’re responsible for him existing at all.
Most readers approve of Superman because he is at his core, a good person.
Why does this guy even have a job? He could take whatever he wants! The guy can look at a wall and leave it as a pile of rubble. The reason goes past how he was raised, though his good-hearted farmboy upbringing certainly created healthy soil for his personal growth. The truth behind his humble nature comes from his own self-awareness, somehow knowing that he was meant to be here. Earth is not his natural origin, yet he is still bound to it. Why is this? Surely there is a purpose. As Clark grows older, he learns that his abilities can assist in a planet that needs help. Superman looks up to himself as Kal El, constantly learning more about him, and Kal El knows Clark Kent because he created him. Clark’s job is to report the news, which often involves details regarding Superman. This is similar to the oral tradition in the Christian faith of the Holy Trinity, or the Vedic concept of Rishi (knower), Devata (process of knowing) and Chandas (the Known).
Superman acts because he feels to act…and yet, Clark is clumsy and ridiculous when at work. What does this mean?
This is where the true power of this particular comic book hero comes into play.
Superman, said to be completely invincible, somehow fumbles around a woman, drops stacks of paper in the hallway, cracks his glasses like he’s getting paid to, and spills water from the office cooler. This is an unconvincing image of invincibility to say the least. Yet, as “Superman,” suited and soaring through the sky, flawed motions are near impossible. You never find him running into buildings on accident or tripping on power lines.
This is because he is acting out his full potential.
When any living being, human or otherwise, stifles their full capacity, they become further faulted, accomplishing nothing but their own contorted image of themselves. When we are in tune with the universe and accepting the flow, nature seems to act within our will. When we aren’t, then it begins to respond as an enemy— or so it could seem. What it is really doing is being a harsh Buddha, slapping our wrists and reminding us that we know we could be doing more, being more.
This is why we fumble.
We could be standing tall, but embarrassment, social anxiety, and fear of judgement or pain stands in the way. At this point, we tend to fall victim to our own lies projected on the walls of our minds. Thankfully, when Superman is wearing his suit, there is no self-judgement or judgement towards others, because he can simply be what he knows he is. Like meditating, Superman takes time away from the noise of Metropolis by going to his own Fortress of Solitude. Here he can reevaluate who he is, study, or just be in silence. Not a bad idea, especially when the fluster of life can often leave us wondering who we were to start with.
Superman serves as a symbol of all living creatures, especially human beings. He peeks at us from behind his perfect curl and silently says, “If I can do it, so can you.”And all it takes, as Jesus put it, is “faith the size of a mustard seed.”
Buddha preached that we create our own reality. This is easily seen when looking at a cosmic being like Superman, mainly because the notion of Superman did not fall from the sky. He was created fresh from the mind of some ordinary nobody like you or me. That person tapped into his potential, and created a story that somehow made people feel as though they could be as powerful and peaceful as Superman. If these traits were impossible to become, then there would be no draw to them. However, knowing that we can become warriors of the world like Superman, still have a personal knowing like Kal-El, and also be a part of society like Clark Kent is obvious to more than just kids who read comics. Somehow, this awareness is within us all.
Sara Lindsey graduated from the Maharishi University of Management with a degree in Communication & Media with an Emphasis in Writing, since there was sadly no Journalism major. Some of her past and current interests include but are not limited to: yoga, raw food, as much travel as possible, Swedish electro-pop, dijon mustard, reading comics, and riding her bike. Sara was born in Morocco, has lived throughout the US, and is a new resident to Boulder, Colorado.