Unsung Superheroes

You should have seen their faces.

This group of about twenty men and women had just spent the past thirteen hours beginning at one in the morning doing the hardest and most physically demanding activities of their lives. Over the last seventeen miles they had run, crab walked, bear crawled, alligator walked, elephant walked, carried a giant fallen tree trunk (for three hours), and even ran for a mile or two carrying another person across their shoulders. When they weren’t moving forward, they had done push ups, squats, lunges, and more. Some of it while standing in a cold river or lake. All of it, while carrying a backpack weighing forty-to-sixty pounds that was never allowed to touch the ground (as well as a couple of additional twenty-five-plus pound weights the team also had to figure a way to manage).

They thought at this point it was over. After a grueling five-mile Indian run through the busy streets in the heart of the city, they thought there could be no more. Mission accomplished. That they would get their reward (a small patch and the knowledge of having completed the course) and find a way home. They were wrong. There was more. And, when they discovered this, their faces bore the weight of every minute that had come before. In their eyes, the thousand yard stare of a people lost in suffering and pain. Yet, when the word was given to go that extra mile, carrying a buddy, they rose up, gathered what remained of their resolve, and did it.

I don’t consider myself very handy. In fact, when it comes to most DIY home fix-up stuff, I’m actually quite intimidated. Mainly because I have no clue where to start or what to do if something goes wrong. So, you might imagine what was going through my head when we purchased a house for a price so low that we could have put it on a credit card had the closing company been able to accept them. The caveat being, of course, that it needed a lot of work. Not as much as one might think, given the price. Yet, a fair amount. Enough so that it is things I have never done before. I’m like a deer in headlights.

Right now, our plumber can’t continue his work until the bathroom sub-floor is replaced. The Instructions show two people, one weekend, and a skill level of moderate-to-hard. I’m one person, with a few hours, and a skill level of w-t-f. Yet, here I am, about to load up my car with a crowbar, a reciprocating saw, my broken-toes, and a hefty helping of gumption and devil-may-care.

My four-year old daughter, Beatrix, always — Always! — tries food she has never had before. Despite the fact she knows she won’t like it. She tastes it, chews it, swallows it, and then decides. It does not matter what it is, she will always give it a fair shot. I contrast this with the large number of people who will refuse to eat something just based on how it looks or sounds. Not my Beatrix.

All of us have struggles, challenges, fears, and other impediments that we must overcome on a daily basis. More often than not, our boundaries are illusions created by the fear of what we are truly capable of. All of us, at some point, push through this fear and learn a valuable lesson in the process.

That, in ways both large and small, we are all superheroes. We move faster than speeding bullets (that we pull the trigger on), are more powerful than locomotives (that we purposefully step in front of), and bound tall buildings (of our own making) with a single bound. A secret identity we don’t ever see or admit to. Yet, when the task calls for it, we step into the booth as a person incapable and step out the other side as another doing things we never dreamed we could.

This essay is dedicated to GORUCK Challenge Class 167. A group of superheroes if there ever was.

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