I took a few weeks off from writing because I was attending the Pennsylvania Counseling Association's annual conference. It was in Pittsburgh this year, so it was great to be back home for a bit. I always love conferences because it provides the opportunity to interact with like minded professionals, to hear new things going on in the field, and then in this case to connect with old friends. Also, we had the Thanksgiving holiday just last week. So I'm really just getting back to all of this.
I wanted to comment, though, about the loss of one of my heroes, Stan Lee. I grew up reading comic books. One of the things I often share with people is that I basically learned to read through reading comic books. My dad bought me a mixed package of comic books one Christmas, and it provided the springboard that got me into super heroes. Though I've always been willing and interested to check out any good comic book series, my favorite stories surround the Marvel Comics characters. Specifically, Spider-Man has been a personal favorite of mine. I loved the way that these characters seemed to have real lives, interacted with one another in what felt like a living breathing universe, and were based in real world locations. I loved the depth of the characters (both hero and villain) and being able to understand the depth of motivation and decision making that led to each of the characters making the choices and living the lives that they did. They also provided me a great deal of comfort and support when I was dealing with everything we deal with growing up. Particularly bullies. I was picked on quite a bit. I had teachers that would step in, and family that tried to comfort me, I was lucky in those ways. But I could go to my heroes to get a break from all of the negativity that I still had to see. They gave me courage, and an example of doing the right thing even when other people aren't.
All of this was possible because of Stan Lee. He created these characters and spun the universe into existence. He may not have been involved on the day to day projects that I was reading at the time, but I still knew exactly who he was. He was still so active in the development of that universe and being the spokesperson for the company he was heading. I admired him. He was as much of a hero to me as the characters I was experiencing on the page. Over the years, just as much as I would continue to explore the characters, I would follow his projects. I'm proud to say that a handful of years ago I was able to meet him ever so briefly at a Wizard World Comic Con. I got his autograph, and a few minutes to express my appreciation and get a "no thank you" back from him. It was a great experience. I knew over the years that he was aging, and the reality was clear that at some point we'd lose him. But I still looked forward to catching his cameos in all of the Marvel movies. When I'd catch something he happened to write or someone was referencing about him, it would put a smile on my face. But now unfortunately, he's gone.
Stan Lee is one of those people, though, that will live on in all the stories he's created, and through those he's inspired. That was the real magic of Stan Lee's impact. He's left a legacy that, I imagine, will go on for generations. The lessons I've learned from the heroes he created have found their way into my life and my work. I'll always appreciate that and carry that with me. I'll end with a quote from Spider-Man 2 that I always think of when I consider what it is to lead a good life. Rest peacefully Stan. Excelsior!
"I believe there’s a hero in all of us, that keeps us honest, gives us strength, makes us noble, and finally allows us to die with pride, even though sometimes we have to be steady, and give up the thing we want the most.” - Aunt May to Peter Parker, Spider-Man 2 2004 Columbia Studios
- This post written by Dr. Steve Kuniak