On becoming a superhero

I “created” my first superhero when I was five years old. His name was Captain Hank, and he possessed super-human strength, speed, and he couldn’t age. That was all, basically.

Then, of course, I had to make some villains, and then some other superheroes to aid Hank in his fight against evil.

To some, the concept of  superheroes acts simply as a metaphor for greatness. It can be easily understood by almost anyone, regardless of age, education, culture, and so on. I never actually agreed with this definition.

I believe the concept itself is so primordial that most of us actually miss the point entirely. My definition is that superheroes are characters who possess certain abilities and traits that make them better than normal people in many ways.

But they also have flaws and weaknesses, and they make mistakes.

As fictional characters, they simply connect with one of our most impossible desires: we want to belong. Most superheroes are outcasts. And their struggle to fit in is what really appeals to us. But then they put on a mask, and everything changes.

They become much more.

In a way, superheroes have taken the role reserved to ancient gods. They teach us that greatness is flawed, that saving the world doesn’t change the fact that you’re different.

But it makes everything easier to understand.

In a world where so many are struggling to find a purpose, where so many feel like they don’t fit in, that they’re somehow inherently different from everyone else, being told that different can also mean great is crucial.

Creating a world that’s simply out of your reach takes hope and courage. The impossible dream that we’re all capable of greatness.

Of course, we need strength and courage and patience, and we need to face our fears, but we’re all capable of greatness.

In every superhero movie or graphic novel, there’s always that part when the good guy’s getting his ass kicked. He’s down on his knees, and you don’t expect him to get up. But this is just an outside perspective. It’s our inability to accept the fact that you can’t defeat a man who doesn’t give up.

And then our superhero rises. He finds strength where few people ever venture. From that hidden place inside our chests, that place science has yet to find.

What I’m really trying to say is that even when we’re kids, we don’t really dream about flying or being strong enough to tear down a building. We know that’s impossible, and so we aspire for an elusive form of greatness. We spend an awful lot of time dreaming about greatness, and we find comfort in those dreams.

Sadly, when the time comes to start looking for that one thing that makes us great most of us simply give up, and choose comfort and safety instead.


2 comments on “On becoming a superhero

  1. KIA says:

    Would that comfort and safety include yielding our own potential to the control and protection by others?
    I agree, we should become our own superheroes and prove the example for others to rise to their potentials as well. Thank you for this post. -KIA

  2. tpesce2015 says:

    “And then our superhero rises… from that hidden place inside our chests, that place science has yet to find.” This reminds me of a cat’s purr. Scientists still don’t know how cats purr. Dissection reveals nothing. Cats purr in context… courage is also found within the context of challenge, facing fear, necessity…

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