Friday, January 31, 2014

A Hero in a Cow Suit?

Anyone can slay a dragon, he told me, but try waking up every morning and loving the world all over again. That’s what takes a real hero.  - Brian Andreas   Real Hero, StoryPeople 2002

Next week, this will be my Cow Suit Saturday attire. I’ll have a cape! I’ll be a hero!  I wish it were that simple.
I’ll be spending my day around dozens of middle schoolers working math problems while their coaches cheer them on. Area engineers and other STEM professionals volunteer to grade, proctor and judge their work.  Sounds like a whole room of heroes to me.  

Middle schoolers are my favorite crowd to cow around. They can always use a hero—a friendly personality who makes them feel confident, safe and precious.  I remember those awkward and vulnerable moments like yesterday.  (I think I had some yesterday, actually.) The Cow-culator can set a room full of freckle-faced mathletes at ease. It’s easy because their smiles are so swift and so genuine.
Tomorrow I’m going to cow in one of America’s largest cities. Alone. And I’m feeling... a lot. I’m nervous. I suppose I’m a little scared. I feel silly. Ridiculous. Childish. Stupid. Uncertain. The more I think about it…it’s a terrible idea. I should work on writing a column about Mathletes. Or pay bills. Or do sit-ups.  If I keep going here, I’m going to talk myself right out of it. My mom would say, “Quit working yourself into a tizzy!”

Indeed. I just need a little courage. A little reframing. A little visualization to set one hoof in front of the other and goooooo!  It seems foolish and selfish that I am inventing something to summon courage for when there are so many people that face real things that need real courage. 
Although, if I invent dragons to slay and I am successful, maybe I’ll have the courage to slay the real ones.  Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish  real ones from the invented. Maybe someone will see me slay my self-imposed dragon and it will inspire them to slay a few of their own.  Maybe someone will think I’m a hero. How much of this is about me? How much of this is about others? I can’t be anyone’s hero until I am my own.

At times, we are our own lone heroes.  That heroic will and the courage come from within because they have to, but sometimes they come quicker knowing there are other dragon slayers…and cows out there.  
Tomorrow was originally a challenge from a new friend. When I asked her to cow with me some day, she talked of insecurities and discomfort. As we chatted she issued an assignment in exchange for a cowing adventure with her. And I gotta say…it’s something that scares the heck out of me. “Isn’t cowing about stretching boundaries?” she quipped.   Moouché. This one is a doozy.

As I visualize and recall all of the wonderful cowing experiences, I know I’ll gain something tomorrow that I haven’t even considered. A lot of tomorrow, though, will be very much about this woman and accepting her challenge. It’ll be like me taking a bite of the pureed peas to show the toddler, “Yum! See? Now you take a bite.”  Maybe not peas. Cowing is more like cup cakes.

I’ll say it again…the smiles I see and feel are bliss. Every time I’ve been in the cow suit, they make me love this world all over again.  I’ll be darned…the cow suit does make me a hero.  And I don’t even need a cape. But tomorrow a little courage would be nice.

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