We were running in the old school field during break – a group of 8 year old boys and girls. We did not have any set objective – these things rarely do. I recall somebody wanted to play tag and so it started that way. But before long, it became a race. And there we were – running without a care in the world, in the middle of the soccer field flanked by the school and the mosque.
And that was when it hit me – this notion that I was Superman. I raised my arms, gave a burst of speed and flew off…
I felt the wind blowing against my face as I embraced the air, looking expectantly for the horizon to change as I leave the ground.
Instead, I saw a flurry of green as the ground connected with my face. I tasted grass, earth …. and blood. I pushed up with my hands and lay on my back, eyes closed.
“Oi….”, I heard the voice of a concerned classmate.
I opened my eyes and found the faces of 5 kids above me. One grabbed my hand to help me up. Another touched my lips.
“Oww, oww, oww”, I said as I felt my bloodied lip.
A girl – Latifah gave me a handkerchief for the bleeding. It was embroidered and edged with laces. I took it gratefully, and walked slowly back to class. Nobody asked why I decided to “embrace” the ground, thank God.
But no thanks to Superman!
In a few days, I would return that handkerchief – laundered and ironed back to her. She smiled. I think she knew.
I’ve told this story to my kids several times when they were little. It’s funny to see how they look on in disbelief as the story progressed. Unlike me, they have more common sense and wouldn’t just “fly off” on a whim!
“That must have hurt bad, Daddy”, said Danial.
“Yes, it did…”, I answered.
It was an example of situations that some people might refer to as “being lost in the moment” – characterized by a temporarily pause on reality. It caused me injury, definitely.
But there are those who could tap into the “moment” utilising it to reach a certain objective. Steve Jobs was one of them. His “Reality Distortion Field” or RDF was a term to describe Jobs’ charisma and how it affected those working on the Mac project at Apple. With RDF, Jobs’s could convince himself and others to believe almost anything via a slathering of charm, charisma, bravado, hyperbole, marketing, appeasement and persistence. It could also distort an audience’s “sense of proportion and scales of difficulties” and made them believe that anything was possible.
Interestingly, the term has also been used in industry to describe managers and leaders who try to convince their employees to become passionately committed to projects without regard to the overall product or to competitive forces in the market.
But back to me…. yes, it hurt when my face connected with the ground.
But hey … for a moment there, I was Superman!