Thank You, Super Asian Man

Inspiration, I think, is a tricky word. While it has a powerful short-term impact, its effects tend to wear off relatively quickly, particularly as the monotony of reality sets in. However, while that initial burst of inspiration may mostly dissipate, it’s always possible that some of the remnants will remain, and if you can remember them, they can be a fun reminder of your overall narrative. So, in this season of thanks, I would like to share one of my inspirations: Super Asian Man.

Who is Super Asian Man? I don’t know, actually. I can’t remember his name, where he’s from, or what he’s doing now. I couldn’t even tell you exactly when I heard about him. I encountered him when I was in high school or college, reading the newspaper at my parents’ dining room table (I was reading a hard copy of the paper, so it was probably in high school).

It was a short article–a piece in the “Bay Area” section of the SF Chronicle or its equivalent that highlights something cool a local did. Super Asian Man’s story is pretty inspirational: He was a guy (mid-30s, perhaps?) who was overweight his whole life. He suffered from some minor health ailments that doctors warned would develop into something worse (e.g., diabetes). However, he turned his life around when he got into running. At first, he began with a short race–he may have been prodded into doing it by a friend or family member. But he eventually became addicted to the “runner’s high” and did more and more runs. He may have also done some fundraising for all the races he participated in. Seems like a great guy, overall.

Now, these feel-good stories aren’t unnecessarily uncommon. However, here was the distinctive quality about this dude (and why I call him “Super Asian Man”): He wore some sort of superhero garb during his races. I can’t remember when he started doing it or what exactly he wore (it may have been just a Superman shirt, it may have included a full get-up with cape and everything). But the reason he started doing it was because he wanted to inspire. He turned his life around and wanted to share that message with everyone: That anyone could be “super.” As cheesy as his outfit may have been, his intentions seemed genuine.

As I read this piece, I thought about how awesome this guy’s story was. I saw parallels with my life and his initial story: Overweight for the majority of our lives, doctors telling us to lose weight “or else”, struggling with all the issues chubby Asian dudes face (Buddha jokes stop being funny the first time, don’t touch my belly for luck). It didn’t make me want to drop everything I was doing and start exercising–I still hated running at that time–but it was inspiring to see a dude turn his life around, not through any tricks or shortcuts, but just hard work and “doing it.”

Fast forward to today, and my past two years may seem like a rerun of Super Asian Man’s story. I similarly got my physical life and body into order after getting addicted to that “runner’s high.” Granted, I don’t wear a cape at races (that would probably hurt my time), and I’m not running to inspire other people: The crux of why I run is because I’m a competitive son of a gun, and I love the challenge (and beating other people. I’ll be honest). But if my story can also help plant a seed of inspiration for either a friend or stranger–whether it happens immediately or in the distant future–then that’s an even greater award than any personal record or accolade.

So thank you, Super Asian Man, wherever you are. Your super story continues to inspire to this day.

Keep pushing the pile, friends!

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