On Saturday, I was leafing through the local weekend paper and came across a photo spread of the Paralympics. Across the page were photos of amazing athletes with what many of us would think to be impossible challenges. Many of the athletes were playing their sports from wheel chairs. Some were leaping or running with one or both legs supplemented by prosthetic running legs. Other aquatics athletes were swimming or diving with an arm missing or both legs amputated at the knees. The looks of determination, strength and joy were so inspiring I started to tear up. If these folks can do these amazing things with the impediments they face, what is holding anyone else back from their goals?
What I find beautiful is that grit and magic we do find within us to push ourselves beyond what we thought humanly possible. This is when we discover our “super powers.” When Vermont was ravaged by Tropical Storm Irene last year, the whole state rediscovered their super power of caring for each other, doing what needed to be done in order for their neighbors to be okay, to dig out, to clean up, to get back on their feet. There wasn’t necessarily a plan in place for exactly how everything needed to happen. People simply responded. They came together, looked at who and what was in front of them, and did what made the most sense: picking up trash, making food, lending a hand, being good to each other.
In improv theater, actors are constantly tasked with exactly this problem every time they are onstage together. A set of circumstances are randomly assigned to a group. They arrive on the scene and go. When they perform, pulling ideas out of what seems like nowhere, audience members are awed. It does seem like magic when these actors seamlessly pull together and perform what ends up sounding like a cleverly written Tom Stoppard or Woody Allen script.
Where else do you find that magic, those super powers that give someone or even you the strength, knowledge, determination, the shear awesomeness to do what you didn’t think was possible?
The magic that all of these people are drawing on is that of working hard to hone the skills of handling what seems impossible. All of these folks in their communities, gyms, fields or rehearsal spaces have been super heroes in training, working together, learning from each other how their individual or combined “wonder twin” powers prepare them to take on big challenges. Super powers are truly beautiful, and they change the world.
Director of Housing and Residential Life