The musings and misadventures of a girl unprepared

Friday, 3 January 2014

Andrew Kaufman is a Superhero

All My Friends Are Superheroes is a book by Andrew Kaufman and is one of my two favourite books of all time. In this story and his other books, Andrew Kaufman brings to life real life issues in a such a quirky and playful way that you can't help but grin when reading them. I especially love All My Friends Are Superheroes as it shines a light on all those talents and personality traits that are often considered 'ordinary' and are therefore overlooked. I would recommend this book to anyone. You can borrow mine of course, but I'd encourage you to buy your own afterwards, so you can refer back to it if you ever feel a bit down about life. Here's the blurb:

All Tom's friends really are superheroes. Tom even married a superhero, the Perfectionist. But at their wedding the Perfectionist is hypnotized by her ex, Hypno, to believe that Tom is invisible. Nothing he does can make her see him...

Six months later the Perfectionist is sure that Tom has abandoned her, so she's moving to Vancouver. She'll use her superpowers to leave all the heartbreak behind. With no idea that Tom's beside her, she boards the plane. Tom has until they touch down to convince her he's there, or he loses her forever...

I'm going to take a guess that that all seems a little odd to anyone who hasn't read the book. I want to point out that this is, without a doubt, a book for grown ups and not just fun a children's story. The basic lesson behind the story is that Tom, seemingly the only non-superhero in existence, is about to lose the love of his life because he fails to see what is special about himself. As someone who is ordinary, what does he have to give someone who is so perfect? Alongside his friends the Spooner, the Ear and the Impossible Man, what does he really have to offer?

Without wanting to give away too much, he has a lot more to offer than he realises. Which is probably true for around about 99% of the population today. Although I think modesty is a great thing, in our society it has progressed to mean self deprecation, rather than just not being a show off. Far too often we hear people talking about what they can't do, what they suck at and wish weren't inherent aspects of their personalities. Since when did it become the norm to hate on yourself all the time? How are we supposed to provide and support those we love if we fail to see how we are good enough to do so?

I read this really good quote on tumblr recently...

'She deserves better, you say. I say: You’re a goddamn coward. What she deserves is an actual person she can connect with. She deserves you, or me or the entire world; she deserves someone achingly real and honest. She deserves a human being equally raw to pursue her and love her and, perhaps, destroy her emotionally, but she deserves all that as well. She doesn't deserve anyone’s sugary fairy tale. She deserves to float freely, with you, or me, or the world, into the very depths of her own psychosynthesis. She deserves to explore the meaning of the word "intimacy", with someone beside her that will care regardless. She fucking deserves all of it. So, pluck up the courage and be with her or leave her in peace but don’t you dare "sell" her your own"inadequacy" as a lie so that, again, you manage to comfort your conscience and eventually come to feel that you love her exactly because you’re letting her go. Because, darling, that’s bullshit. That’s only your own little self-created lie laying behind a much bigger lie; it’s not even properly concealed within itself, you fucking idiot.'

I don't know where this comes from, but I don't think it really matters. I think Kaufman would agree with it at least. What I'm trying to convey is that if all you focus on is your own inadequacies, what do you really expect to achieve in your life? So embrace yourself, with all your imperfections and mistakes. Because life is far too short to waste wishing you were someone else.

Kaufman belongs in my Ordinary Incredibles series for a variety of reasons. From what I can find about him online, he came from pretty humble origins. Attended an ordinary school, in the ordinary town of Wingham Ontario (with the tiny population of just under 3,000) and really made something of himself. Now a radio producer, film maker and writer, he is living proof that it doesn't matter where you come from, just where you go from there. And on a more personal level, he wrote a book that touched my heart so profoundly when I first read it four years ago, that I haven't stopped raving about it since. So thank-you Andrew Kaufman, for your colourful, creative and unique style of writing, and fantastic sense of humour. 

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