A Superhero's Guide to Living Better

A Scripted Freelance Writer Writing Sample

The great thing about being a Superhero is that every day, no matter how much you didn't sleep, you wake up full of awesome. You jump out of bed, and with a "Tally-Ho!", you don your cape and off you go to vanquish villains. Your every day, run-of-the-mill villains could be anything. Mine, right now, tend to be mountains of laundry and dinners that insist on being cooked every – single – day. Your results may vary. But then, sometimes, without warning, your villains change. Instead of laundry, your villain becomes Cancer, or Divorce, or Death of a Loved One. And there you are, full of awesome, but now fighting a villain you are quite unprepared to vanquish. Your villain has suddenly become a Super Villain, and you find yourself afraid. Afraid you might run out of awesome before this particular villain is vanquished. Afraid your patched cape might not be able to hold up under such a barrage of fire. Afraid you might have run out of time to use your pure awesomeness to live a purely awesome life. Because that, right there, is the rub of being a Superhero. You spend so much time vanquishing villains, you sometimes quite forget that life isn't all about vanquishing, or indeed about villains, it is also about living. While you're flitting around, swishing your cape, locked in what you think is the fight of your life with one minor villain or another, life goes on without you. While you wait to win, you're losing. Take the case of my dear friend, let's call her Mighty Mouse. For fifteen years, Mighty Mouse has battled that wickedest of villains, Lord Overweight. Jobs, parties, relationships, studies, everything has been put on hold until "after I lose this weight". Trouble is, Lord Overweight appears to be quite the Super Villain, and Mighty Mouse has been fighting the good fight for fifteen years. She's won some battles, but she is losing the war. Because, you see, Mighty Mouse is now a "woman of a certain age", and over time, Lord Overweight has joined forces with Captain Bad Knees and his equally villainous twin, Bad Back, as well as the big head honcho, the Overlord of Super Villains, Darth Too Old. Now all those things postponed "until I lose the weight" are slowly being retired as options altogether because of the large crowd of villains battling to stop them from happening. The physical job she always wanted, if only she looked a wee bit slimmer so her clients would think she knew what she was doing? Can't do it now – still Too Fat, and well, there's those Bad Knees and that Bad Back. That study? Too Old. That amazing relationship she keeps telling herself she deserves? Well, you see, she doesn't REALLY deserve it, because, after all, she's Too Fat. The saddest part, and the real irony, of course, is that she was never, nor is she now, Too Fat. But Mighty Mouse does not feel too Mighty, and so she waits, hoping things will change. And while she's waiting, nothing does. This tendency to postpone the good stuff until some far off target is reached reminds me of nothing quite so much as our mothers' and grandmothers' penchant for keeping a set of "good china". It evokes images of formal lounges with plastic-wrapped furniture waiting for that One Day, that Special Occasion, without any idea of what could possibly be Special enough to be special enough. High Tea with the Queen of England springs to mind. The tragedy, of course, is that when our mothers and grandmothers were gone, that good china and that plastic-wrapped furniture would still be sitting there, untouched, unused, forever cherished from a distance. Is that the goal you have for your life? To cherish it from a distance? Or do you want to live with wild abandon, eat from your good china and spill tea on your good furniture, and never, ever postpone anything because you might just be Too Fat? Do you want to suck the marrow out of life or trim the fat and hold the gravy? Isn't life too short to skip the good bits? Recently, an old, but still young, friend lost her life in an accident. She was here one minute, gone the next. One minute, her family was complete – mum, dad and three strapping boys. The next, boom. Because life is like that, and tomorrow, God forbid, it could be you, me, or anyone, anywhere. If you knew tomorrow was your day to be zapped from existence, would you do things differently? Would you let your kids take pictures of you, even though you are Too Fat? Would you wear that pretty dress, even though you are Too Old? Would you go for that dream job, paint the painting in your head, learn to play a guitar, despite the little voice in your head reminding you of all the villains you ought to be fighting first? If you said yes to any of those questions, it's time to hang up your cape and stop fighting, even for just a few hours a day. Don't wait anymore – time's up. Do it now, or you might never do it. Use your Superpowers for good, put those villains on hold for a few hours and seize the moment. Because nothing comes to those who sit around waiting for it. And life was never meant to be one endless battle.

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Tara L

Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand •

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