[Versión en español aquí.]
If we think about the concept of ‘superman’, the first things that come to mind are, probably, superheroes: Superman, Spiderman, and many others. All of them have something in common: they all have genetics that go beyond that of the humans. None of them are, strictly speaking, a human being.
However, if we avoid fiction, being a superman is simply about going beyond the abilities of the standard man. Farther. Higher. Faster. Being a superman means rejecting mediocrity, and a permanent struggle to reach our highest potential on every facet of life.
I like the painting that accompanies these lines -The Wanderer above the Sea of Fog, by Friedrich-, because it beautifully reflects the situation in which we find ourselves when we ponder over the question ‘How far can I actually go?’
This picture symbolizes introspection. The gaze upon the fog of the unknown about ourselves. But also the vast lands of the room we have to improve.
And if we take a closer look, we can see that the position of the wanderer is somehow contradictory: on the one hand he seems to dominate the landscape from his position on top, but on the other hand if we contemplate the mountains that stick out of the fog, we realize how insignificant the wanderer actually is within the landscape.
I believe that is how we face our road towards the superman. We are comfortable in the explored area, and we are proud of how far we got. That’s why we dominate the landscape opening before us: we came so far, that these vast and magnificient lands kneel before us, like a second fruit borne from our efforts.
But we understand that expanding the circle of what we know and what we have mastered, also means expanding even more the circle of what we know that we don’t know and we haven’t mastered -such is the nature of geometry-. And that’s why we feel small: after having gotten so far, we still find, laying in front of us, huge and steep mountains, together with immense and desolated plains.
This paradoxical image is, by itself, a lesson on humility. Most of us peek into the abyss from time to time, in specific moments, just to be disturbed shortly thereafter by our daily lives. However, during that instant, we experienced the sensation of seeing how far we could actually go. We just felt that abyss not like something without measure, far too big for us, but rather like a taste of our true value, of our most powerful self: of everything we could achieve, if we were just to leave our base camp.
It doesn’t matter how much we have walked. We will always feel that we can get much farther. We will always feel that we can achieve more. Be better. Go beyond.
Being a superman is not a goal in itself. It’s not a destination, but a road to be trodden: perfection is an unclimbable mountain that we must climb every day.
I’m in. Are you?