Another Dancer Who Could Also Fly
It intrigues me how our perceptions change over time. This is especially true for me. Having done the dance with death already, life is seen from a radically different perspective than it was prior to my dances. I have written well over a hundred essays about doing the dance and the transformation within me personally.
In addition, I have written about many people who have done the dance: Randy Pausch, John Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, Miguel Cervantes, Kurt Vonnegut, Steve Jobs, Alan Seeger, John Donne, Oliver Sacks, David Hume, Saul Alinsky, Henry David Thoreau, Mahatma Gandhi, Alexander the Great, Professor Keating, William Forrester, Ebenezer Scrooge, Billy Pilgrim, and Don Quixote. Another one was Christopher Reeve.
Interestingly, if you mention Reeve's name, the vast majority of people will equate him with Superman. Google Christopher Reeve and click on images. Most of the photos are of Superman. They are generally various themes and variations of this one.
The interesting thing is that while he played Superman in five movies, it was not his favorite film. Somewhere in Time was the one he loved the most. I also have enjoyed that film and went to Mackinac Island and visited the Grand Hotel where most of the movie took place.
The storyline of the film, Somewhere in Time, deals with a playwright who is given a note from an elderly woman, which read, "Come back to me." While he doesn't, a decade later, the playwright is at the Grand Hotel where he sees a photograph of a beautiful woman who had once been a famous actress. Interestingly, the elderly lady, who gave him a note, was the same person in the photograph at a much earlier time. Thus the playwright begins his time-travelling back to the past that might have been but wasn't.
A couple of years after doing Somewhere in Time, Reeve starred in Anna Karenina. Prior to its filming, he had to learn how to ride a horse for the film. In the process, he became very interested in riding. Over the next decade, he became quite good at equestrian competition. Tragically, on May 27, 1995, he was thrown from his horse, which resulted in becoming a quadriplegic. For nearly the next decade, that was his life. Here is the actor who starred as Superman, and he could not move.
Interestingly, the cast of Somewhere in Time met at the Grand Hotel a handful of years prior to his death. This is a short video of that reunion.
Other than attending a reunion, what did Reeve do as a quadriplegic? Sit and sulk? Not Reeve, who said, "Some people are walking around with full use of their bodies, and they're more paralyzed than I am." That was Reeve's modus operandi.
Instead of moping around, he either founded, co-founded, or served on organizations to assist those with paralysis, other disabilities, and spinal-cord injuries. He also supported work in areas like stem cell, cloning, and genetics. He spent a third of his adult life working to help others who were suffering due to issues surrounding his personal suffering.
Looking back upon his dance with death, he said, "I think a hero is an ordinary individual who finds strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles." Perhaps we all need to acquire Reeve's mindset. We can, in our own personal ways, become Supermen and Superwomen. In the meantime, we can remember Christopher Reeve as Superman.
Visit the Darkest Before Dawn page to read more about this topic.
Visit the The Last Lecture page to read more about this topic.
Visit the Dancing with Death page to read more about this topic.
Visit The Mentors and Me page to read more about this topic.
Visit the Best and Worst of Times page to read more about this topic.