*This is one of my favorite pictures I’ve ever taken. It was on a beach in Brazil and I got about 50 shots of this kid. He was just so beautiful, unselfconcious and totally into what he was doing (bodysurfing).
Here is the text of my short address at the shipboard convocation as requested by popular demand (okay, one commenter).
First, I want to thank you for the honor and privilege of addressing you this evening as a representative of the staff for the Spring 2007 Voyage. To my staff colleagues: I am humbled and I hope to represent you well. To the faculty, it has been a pleasure to support you and to the executive team, captain and crewâ€¦without youâ€¦weâ€™d still be in Nassau.
As we reflect on this voyage, youâ€™ve probably thought about ways youâ€™ve grown or changed over time. It is natural to think about the man or woman youâ€™ve become or are becoming, and it is no surprise that you might touch upon your childhood self and remember those big dreams you had. Walk with me down memory lane and remember your 7 year old self. For some of us that was less than 2 decades ago, for others it is more than 6 decades ago, but Iâ€™d wager that we would almost unanimously agree that one of the things every 7 year old wants to be when they grow up, is a superhero.
Which one did you want to be? Did you create your own persona complete with customized powers and abilities? Did you fly solo or have a team of action hero friends? My favorite superhero was Wonder Woman. Mainly because there were so few examples of girls or women in the superhero world and at 7 years old, sheâ€™d do just fine. I loved her lasso of truth, bullet deflecting bracelets and that crown thing that never flew off her head no matter how many flips she did. Most of all I loved her airplane, it was invisible and it was always ready to whisk her anywhere in the world she wanted to go.
At 14 years old, most of us abandoned our superhero dreams. And somewhere along the way we forgot those dreams and weâ€™d never admit we had them in the first place. But let me tell you some things about superheroes. From one superhero to another:
1. Most Superheroes donâ€™t want to be Superheroes. They resist the call to service, they deny their powers and skills, the curse their talents and strengths. We let other people tell us we canâ€™t be extraordinary, and then we tell ourselves we canâ€™t be the one the world is waiting for. We hide behind things like: Iâ€™m dyslexic, Iâ€™m ADD, Iâ€™m ethnic, Iâ€™m female, Iâ€™m bisexual, Iâ€™m bad at math, Iâ€™m chubby, Iâ€™m broke, Iâ€™m lonely. Superheroes are notoriously resistant to acknowledging our power. Because once you acknowledge that you are a superhero, you can never be ordinary again. And to acknowledge that you are â€œextraordinaryâ€ is a terrifying thing. But I know some of you can feel it in your bones right now, and for others youâ€™ve known it for years, some of us may not get it for a while yet. But you KNOW that you are extraordinary. That is the dissonance professor Judy spoke of last night. And as long as you resist, youâ€™ll always feel like something isnâ€™t quite â€œrightâ€
2. Superheroes arenâ€™t perfect. Each one has their own personal kryptonite. We all have our flaws and imperfections, areas of improvement that we use as excuses for not stepping into all of our power, all of our greatness and all of our responsibility. Know your kryptonite. Whether its alcohol or drugs, food or sex, the internet or an abusive relationship, know your kryptonite and donâ€™t hand the keys to your super powers to anyone else. We are afraid to be exposed as frauds; somebody might figure out that Superman is just a white guy in tights and a tablecloth that he stole from his mamma. Take responsibility for your weak areas and polish, hone and improve those suckers like nobodyâ€™s business. Because Superheroes are notoriously hard on themselves, even as we grant grace and assistance to others.
3. Superheroes donâ€™t go it alone. Even the most solitary of the celebrated heroes has a support network. Wonder Woman, as I told you was my favorite, but more than any powers or gadgets it was because she was a founding member of the Justice League. Even superheroes need a community, a family, a place to rest and reenergize. Build yours and guard it religiously. Not everybody youâ€™re hanging out with is ready to be a superhero yet, let them discover at their own pace, but donâ€™t waste your time on those who are clearly not your friends.
Finally, Superheroes donâ€™t always have a plan, they do what they can with what they have and trust their network, they build their skills, they rest, they know their kryptonite and they DO. So know this my fellow superheroes. As we head towards home, in our very own magic transportation vehicle, that whether you are starting a new job, finishing up college, exiting a relationship or re-dedicating your life to a partner, whether youâ€™ve got a million dollars in a trust fund, or you have no idea how youâ€™re going to make it out of the San Diego area, you donâ€™t have to decide what you want to do for the rest of your life. Just decide what you want to do next. Because a superhero’s work is never done.