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Captain Kindness

I learned two things while on a visit to Universal Studios with my son over his first collegiate spring break.

Thing 1:

I loved roller coasters as a child. I’d jump on any ride with nary a thought. Monumental plummets, corkscrews, and loops were all familiar words in my vocabulary. I’d scream with unbridled joy as my body got tossed in every direction possible.

Age can be a cruel acquaintance, though. It sneaks up on you without a warning and releases its influence in unsuspecting ways. After mindlessly jumping on an amusement park ride with my son a few weeks ago, everything changed. Things became decidedly less amusing. I began analyzing the details of each attraction before boarding it, steering clear of unexpected twists, turns, and unnatural physical forces that my body has decided it will begin protesting against in the name of self-preservation.

In true Dr. Seuss fashion, that Thing 1 seems to complement Thing 2 quite well.

Thing 2:

While waiting in line for Escape from Gringotts, I witnessed something heartwarming. The queue weaves back and forth dozens of times, so you pass the same people over and over again, especially when the wait times exceed an hour. I watched as a group of four people conversed with each other. The gentleman who caught my attention wore a t-shirt with a Captain America shield on the front.

The sun was low in the sky and shined directly in our eyes with every other pass through the queue. Captain America, as I will call him for soon to be obvious reasons, stood behind his wife or girlfriend as she spoke with another member of their party. The piercing sunlight reached her eyes and Captain America shifted to the side, ever so slightly, to shield her from it. When the woman moved to the left to talk with the other person in their group, Captain America did the same, serving as a human shield to protect her from the evil fireball orb in the sky. Perhaps a bit melodramatic, but we were near a movie studio production set.

The best thing about witnessing this sequence of events was that the woman wasn’t aware of what Captain America was doing for her. It was a silent gesture, performed without any expectation or desire for recognition. It was a simple act of kindness that warmed my heart, and it made me wonder how many other people out there are doing the same thing, without anyone noticing it. My hope is that number exceeds the profits earned by all the Marvel movies combined.

The mix of Thing 1 and Thing 2 helped me stumble upon a simple but powerful truth. My aging body requires a non-existent superpower and physical limitations might prevent me from enjoying amusement and thrill park rides like I used to. But there’s an opportunity to experience something just as enjoyable, and arguably more so, inside the ability to bestow simple acts of kindness upon others. It’s perhaps the most overlooked and important superpower in existence. No cape, shield, or superhuman strength required.


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