The phone call comes late in the morning. A friendly lilting voice saying hellohowareyou. Then, the tiny waver that lets you know something is amiss. “We are in a bit of a tight situation here this morning… we wondered if you could possibly help out?” It is the conference director of the local Resort. The afternoon speaker has called in sick, could I come and deliver a program… in two hours?
I immediately do a quick personal assessment: Showered? Check. Speech? Check. Prior commitments can be re-scheduled? Check. Tights? Leotard? Cape? Check. Check. Check!
Hometown Hero reporting for duty!
Within a blink, I am up in front of a room packed full of eager energetic attendees who are all a little unsure of what to expect from this last-minute plug-in. I take a deep breath and we are on our way, laughing and learning and having a grand old time together, and before I even feel I have started, it’s over. Whoosh.
I LOVE to be the understudy! There is such a rush that comes with sizzling in the pan when the burner is on high. Don’t think! Trust your training! Trust yourself! It is the true essence of Preparation meeting Opportunity, and when it clicks, it’s Sooooo Coooool! So really, getting that phone call and rushing in to help was a joy for me. Something I can easily do that makes a huge impact on the people who need my services. I get to practice what I love to do most, and they get a Swooping Super Hero.
Now, getting up in front of a room full of people and giving a speech at the last minute is MY idea of a good time. You, however, may have a few other choice words to describe that experience. But there IS some ‘thing’ YOU do – some ‘thing’ you love to do. Some ‘thing’ that fills you with such delight that, if asked, you would gladly set aside The X Factor AND an extra hour of sleep in order to be able to help out with your ‘thing.’ What makes it even better is when someone needs you at the last minute – you can step in, do your ‘thing’, AND be the Hero!
I’m not talking about the dream. You know the one. The lights are all off except for a blistering spotlight shining on center stage, the entire audience of five hundred people hushed in enthusiastic anticipation. You are bemused to see your family among those people… and your boss… and your secret crush from college… and s-l-o-w-l-y you realize the uncanny co-incidence that every single member of the audience is someone you know! You stand innocently pondering this fact, hidden behind an impossibly heavy velvet curtain peering out at the dust pixies dancing through the piercing shaft of light when SUDDENLY a VERY official person in black, wearing a Madonna headset and carrying a clipboard hisses in your direction “GO! GO! You’re ON! Get OUT There… YOU!” You look around and see no one around you, and feel the nausea spring up and your blood turn to ice as it dawns on you that, YOU are “YOU” and this dictator is expecting you to actually walk out on to the middle of that apocalyptic wooden wasteland and perform! What exactly it is you are intended to perform is always unclear, but you are innately certain it has to do with something horrifying, like… juggling sharp objects… or removing articles of clothing… or Shakespeare…
No, I’m not talking about THAT. When the timing is right, stepping in at the last minute and doing your ‘thing’ feels good. It’s thrilling, It’s easy, it’s fun! If you want a true boost to your day, look for ways you can do your ‘thing’ and be the Hero. If you love to cook, bake a dinner for the family with the new baby. Hero! If you are a nurturer and see someone approaching a building with their arms full, run up and hold the door open for them. Hero! If you love to DIY, help the elderly person next door fix their wobbly porch step. Hero! Are you a minimalist? Donate your lonely Foosball table to the local Fire Department. Super Hero!
So, as you know how great it feels to be the Hero… how can you help someone else get that same feeling? Who can you help be a Hero today? Here is the trick – Look for ways to let people do their thing to help you. Let the handy-person in your life rescue you from that crazy blinking florescent light bulb – then swoon over how much better the world looks under incandescent lighting. Let your BFF pull you out of your grumps with her bad jokes and good stories – then send her a text thanking her for saving your day. Let your mother tell you how SHE used to executive direct a family – then make sure to give her props when one of her “tricks of the trade” works for you… better yet, ask her advice when you are feeling overwhelmed. You will make all of them the Hero! And you will see in their faces the joy of being the one who could help, when help was needed. And THAT feels even BETTER than being the Hero yourself!
When he gets home from school, I will ask my six-year-old to show me again how to fold a perfect paper airplane, and then I will listen carefully as he instructs me on how to best launch it to achieve the highest possible loop-de-loopage. When I do it well, his little face is the Sun – he beams knowing he has saved me from a bleak existence devoid of proper paper airplane performance. He knows in every fiber, he is my Hero.
And, just like that, I’m walking on air.