With the recent smash release of the marvelous movie Black Panther, I’ve borne witness to a massive wave of superhero mania.
Social media is all abuzz. Newspapers and magazines, websites and blogs, have been devoting major coverage and tons of energy to the subject. I’ve seen folks of every age and shade rocking Black Panther tee shirts around town – even my favorite shoe company Clarks, has come out with a Black Panther Limited Edition shoe.
There’s been lively social discourse surrounding, but not limited to, the following:
- The cultural impact this film is having on the way children of color view themselves through the lens of empowering images.
- How women should be portrayed in strong, non-sexual ways more often in films going forward.
- How representation matters in film.
- How the myth that an all black cast does not play well to white audiences.
This movie has displayed groundbreaking innovation, coupled with tremendous broad appeal.
Cool Kid Connection
The other day at IHOP, Rach, the girls and I, sat in the entryway area waiting for our turn to be seated. I couldn’t help but overhear the conversation of a group of older teens that happened to be white. Their convo went something like this:
Teen One – “Man, that movie was sooo good bro.”
Teen Two – “I know, right?”
Teen Three – “Dude, I’ve already seen it like twice already dude.”
Teen Two – “Really?”
Teen Three – “Yeah maaaan!”
Teen One – “Man…I’ve already seen it 3 times bro.”
Teen Two – “Dude, how have you already seen it 3 times?”
Teen One – “It’s just that good bro!”
They went on chuckling and chatting like that for a while, enlightening each other on the finer points of the film. My proximity allowed me to listen to what they were saying and I agreed wholeheartedly with their analysis. This was a comforting confirmation that I, a middle aged black man, was in total agreement with a group of teenage white kids – a level of connectedness that transcended man-made social barriers.
I ruminated on this thought until I was drawn back to my own reality by Journey yelling, “GIVE IT BACK DELANEY!”
I looked at my girls, scarfing down their pancakes, and wondered if they already know how powerful they are! Sure Rach and I tell them this as often as possible directly, and in subtle ways.
I still pondered which force though, is most powerful – the confirmation they receive from us, or the negative external influences that invariably seep into their subconscious minds, hinting to them that they are somehow not good enough.
While we are in the midst of this superhero craze, do they know that they are in fact the super heroes of their own story?
I think when I was young, I may have known or at least felt that I was the captain of my own ship. But at some point I may have lost some of my confidence due to a few missteps and perceived shortcomings – and thus lost my way. For many years I felt as if I was floundering, sagging beneath the weight of personal disappointment. Yet I feel lucky, because with the help of several crucial people, I’ve found my way back to myself.
This is the essence of the hero’s journey – to be lost, nearly die, and then find redemption. I have certainly walked that path (and am still walking it quite frankly).
It seems we are always searching for an external hero…someone or something to come and fix our lives. Whether we look for Iyanla to “Fix My Life”, or it’s the old “dollar-and-a-dream” mentality that the lottery brings, many of us are sitting back hoping for Calgon to take us away.
However, sooner or later we come to the realization that nothing and no one is going to save us, except US.
We must take responsibility for our own lives; we must be in charge of making our own selves happy; we must, each of us, take the action that is required to go and find the happiness we hope to have manifested in our worlds. We must do this by discovering and then cultivating our purpose. In doing so, this forces us to become our own heroes.
We all have unique gifts – those things that make us who we are, the things that, when we do them, make us come to life. When we nurture these gifts they actually become our superpowers!
What superpowers are you cultivating?
If you’re a comic nerd like me, you’ve heard the old debate about Batman not really being a super hero, because he lacks the prototypical super powers like Superman.
I disagree with that argument.
Sure he doesn’t have the superhuman powers that Superman has because face it, Superman is an alien born on the planet Krypton – he is otherworldly.
Because Batman is homegrown, and aside from his incredible wealth, he’s basically like you and me. His fans flock to him for the very fact that he’s NOT like Superman. Superman doesn’t have to “work at” being a hero, but like us, Batman does…and that’s what makes him so relatable.
Batman relies on his intellect, a bit of technology and his unbreakable will – attributes that we could all begin cultivating today if we wanted to. He makes the most of who he is by accentuating his strengths instead of focusing on his weaknesses. Underneath his mask though, he’s just a dude, an earthling. Yet he’s a character who maximizes his human potential and manages to complete seemingly impossible missions. SPOILER ALERT – Batman goes toe-to-toe with Superman in the, Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice movie…and Batman wins!
With some discipline and effort, we could all be like Batman because his character represents the potential for greatness inside all of us. We can will ourselves into becoming super people.
“Life is a journey not a destination and Batman may help inform how to keep working our way along our own personal paths.” – Neal Adams, artist
The Mission, Should You Choose To Accept
What is our mission impossible?
Well, it’s the same as any other super hero…to thwart the evil plans of the super villain of course. Except our arch enemy is usually a fierce internal one. The foe that most often threatens our personal peace, is us.
- We Don’t Manage our Expectations – Ambition vs. Unrealistic Hope
- We Fail to Appreciate the Small Things – Past and Future Fixation
- We Take Too Much for Granted – Authentic Gratitude
- We Are Our Own Worst Critic – Failing to Focus More on Own Positive Attributes
- We Over-Analyze – Over thinking It
- We Prefer The Easy Way – Too Many Short Cuts
- We Assume – Projecting Our Thoughts Incorrectly
- We Doubt Ourselves – Dust Yourself Off and Try Again
Which one of these personal adversaries do you need to bag in order to rid your inner universe of evil? I for one am working on all 8 in one shape or form.
So, let us continue to grow and stretch toward being the best versions of ourselves, and not wait for someone or something to come and save us, no matter how tempting this thought may be.
As I tell my girls (and myself), “You are the super hero you’ve been waiting for!”