I don’t know about you, but as I was growing up, I longed to have the ability to fly, run faster than a speeding train, have x-ray vision or be bullet proof. My twin, David and I would spend countless hours pretending that we were some superhero or another. I always had a special affinity for the working-class, Spiderman; while David preferred the other worldly, Superman. More importantly, I (we) always wanted to be on the side of right and justice.
In those days, I really believed in myself; believed that I could leap over tall buildings with a single bound. Somewhere along the way, however; I learned to doubt myself and become acutely aware of my limitations and to compare myself with others. As life “progressed”, I didn’t. It seemed as if something was blocking my advancement. Every time I began to do well, there would be some hiccup, some distraction, some drama and I would be derailed. No leaping over tall buildings, no flying, no being faster than a speeding bullet-just me trying to survive. Eventually, I gave up on becoming a superhero and settled on being the villain.
While incarcerated I was always intrigued at how mesmerized, almost to a man, my fellow travelers were enthralled whenever a superhero movie would be shown. Hard core gangbangers, car thieves, armed robbers, burglars, dope dealers and petty criminals alike would sit in silence, glued to the television. In some cases, I could hear guys saying who they would be or who they most identified with. It occurred to me then, that even the “bad guys” deep down really do want to be the “good guys”.
Thankfully, my story doesn’t end there and frankly, it isn’t all that unique from anyone else’s. My story and your story are each representations of the age-old hero’s journey. In each story, the protagonist confronts life and either has the tools to manage or must go through certain challenges (adventures) in order to gain those tools to aid them along their journey.
As I look at the superpowers of my superheroes, I find that those extraordinary abilities are nothing more than metaphors. When I look closer at the Avengers, Superman, Batman, the X-Men, or the Fantastic Four, what I find is that their “real” superpowers are acceptance, resilience, tenacity, hope, courage, honesty, authenticity, responsibility, commitment, cooperation and interdependence.
Every day I get the opportunity to exercise the greatest of all my superpowers; the power of choice.
I can choose acceptance or denial, resilience or defeatism, tenacity or faint-heartedness, hope or futility, courage or cowardice, honesty or deceitfulness, authenticity or spuriousness, responsibility or shirking, commitment or disloyalty, cooperation or dissention, interdependence or competition.
It is these choices that determine whether I become a superhero or a villain.
What are your superpowers and which do you choose?