When I was 13 years old, I would make sure I was home to watch Batman. It was 1966, and my dad bought us a color TV console. A beautiful piece of furniture which contained a TV, a color TV!
Batman was one of the first TV series to be broadcast in color. I still remember Batman’s costume. He had lavender tights with a yellow utility belt. Robin wore a tiny red jacket with green shorts. For the first time in my life, TV came alive. The characters were real.
Over the weekend, I learned Batman died. Bruce Wayne, played by Adam West, is no more. In reading Adam West’s obituary, I was struck by the significance of his work as an actor.
His obituary had this quote.
Adam West said he had been turned down for some roles because of his time portraying millionaire Bruce Wayne and his spandex-wearing alter ego. “It is kind of a double-edged sword, but I made up my mind a long time ago to enjoy it,” West told The Desert Sun in Palm Springs, Calif., in a June 2006 interview. “Not many actors get the chance to create a signature character.”
And that’s when it hit me. Actors rarely get the chance to create a signature character, but we do. When we live our lives, it is for real. The character I am building is real, and it is me. And I will be remembered for the character I am.
A Sudden Revelation
I was reminded today of my “drinking days.” As an entrepreneur in my mid-twenties, I worked hard and played hard. After a wild party at a friend’s house, I heard through the grapevine a comment made about me by a respected wealth manager. He said, “Charlie was loud and obnoxious, and I don’t want to be around him anymore.”
When I heard this, I reflected on how I acted at the party. When I used to drink, the more I drank, the funnier I thought I became and the louder I got. I thought I was the life of the party, but, in reality, I was obnoxious and not funny. I didn’t want to be this guy. I didn’t want people I respected to speak about me that way.
So I Made a Decision
I decided to not act that way around this guy. Instead, I would act in a way he would find pleasing and attractive. Over time, he changed his mind and enjoyed being around me. I won him over. But I didn’t win him over to me but the person I needed to be so he would like me. What character was I playing?
I didn’t want to be the loud, obnoxious drunk, so I made an effort to modify my behavior. And it worked for a while. But sometimes I just couldn’t play that part. The alcohol would take over. The older I got, the less capable I was of playing the proper businessman and neighbor. I wanted to be me. The problem was, people didn’t like me. More importantly, I didn’t like me.
The Dilemma of Identity
When I read Adam West’s obituary, my past flooded back. I am now sober for 24 years, so I usually don’t act that way. But sometimes I do. I realize that the character others didn’t like, I didn’t like, is still in there, lurking. The alcohol would set that character free. Free to reap destruction and ruin relationships.
That is the dilemma which brought me to Jesus. The dilemma of identity. Who am I? The loud, obnoxious, life-of-the-party guy? Or the loyal husband, father, and level-headed businessman? Alcoholics Anonymous told me to trust God.
Over time, I did trust Him and asked Him to take away the dependence on alcohol. He did that. It was only after this miracle at age 39 that I began to trust God to show me who I am. The answer is simple. I am His.
Adam West, Hero
For the last 24 years, God has been developing the “character” he intended me to be. I’ve learned as long as I trust Him with my addiction, I don’t drink. I’ve also learned as long as I trust Him with my life, that other character doesn’t show up.
Adam West had two identities. He was Batman and Adam West.
“Our dad always saw himself as the bright knight and aspired to make a positive impact on his fans’ lives,” West’s children said in a statement. “He was and will always be our hero.”
On TV, Adam West was the hero Batman, but he is remembered by those who loved him for being the man Adam West, the real hero.
Also published on Medium.