Superhero

Did you know Clark Kent is actually Superman? Did you know Peter Parker is actually Spiderman? How about that Bruce Wayne is actually Batman?

I always resented superheroes for having secret identities. Why did they have to go through life as complete nincompoops (well, some of them, at least) when they had these super awesome abilities like flying, shooting spiderwebs from their wrists and such?

That’s why I like Tony Stark best of all superheroes. He doesn’t hide. He’s a self-made superhero and everyone knows he is Iron Man.

I’ve recently seen Beyond (watched both seasons filmed so far in the course of about two weeks), a show I found on my HBO GO. I thought it was rather poorly done by the end of season 1, but something kept me watching. Then something happened near the end season 2 that somewhat redeemed what I thought was the weakest link in the show – the protagonist.

Do note, there are spoilers ahead.

Throughout both seasons, the protagonist, Holden Matthews, insists on living what he calls a normal life. However, having spent 12 years of his life in a coma, this is a very unrealistic expectation. This is even more true when you learn that while he was in a coma he developed the ability to move objects with his mind – telekinesis.

Despite all this he keeps repeating “I want a normal life” like a mantra, to a point where he becomes truly annoying about it. Then at the end of season 2, to fix something he had “broken”, he is informed he must “bond” himself with the Realm – an afterlife of sorts, the place where his consciousness had gone during his coma. To do that, a character named Frost informs him he must sacrifice some part of him that he is holding on to dearly. And they walk up to a comatose boy in the bed who is clearly alluded to being the representation of Holden’s desire to lead a normal life.

He is handed a ritual dagger and is told to stab the boy in the heart and thus symbolically sacrifice his desire for a normal life in order to “save the world”.

There are many other things going on in the series, of course, much of it what I believe the authors themselves are unaware of, but I really want to focus on this one aspect. It relates to my situation, even though I do not insist on a normal life. In fact, I think of a normal life as a life that is draining the life out of me, suffocating me. But I find myself acting as if I want to have such a life nonetheless.

I asked in my previous post why I downplayed my abilities, but the truth is that I don’t really downplay them – I act as if I don’t even have them! As Clark Kent acts as if he wasn’t Superman, attempting to hide it from his colleagues, so I act as if I didn’t notice some detail that made me figure out a thing or two ahead of time even as I did. Only I do it subconsciously.

Superman does it to protect the woman he cares about, as well as his human family. Who am I protecting?

One answer is myself. As I said, if I displayed knowledge of something, I often feel I would be called out and accused of causing something to go amiss, or called out because I’ve done nothing to repair the damage. For example, one instance that I remember happened fairly recently. I turned on the light and the bulb burned out. It was too late to fix it and I didn’t know where my wife had put the new light bulbs anyway, so I left it. Instead of mentioning the burned out light the next morning to my wife and asking where the light bulbs were, I didn’t say anything. The reason is the following line of questioning that might ensue, which I didn’t want happening:

Which light? What kind of bulb is it? When did this happen? Why’d you turn on the light anyway, you always walk around in the dark? Why didn’t you change the light immediately? What were you doing up at that time of night? How could you, I thought we were going to do that together?!

Answering these questions is more energy consuming for me than just changing the damn bulb, even if I had to go to the store to buy a new one. That, or just have my wife replace it. So I avoid it by acting as if I hadn’t noticed anything amiss.

There is, however, no reason that I would think such a line of questioning would happen. I just think it would happen. Because it used to happen. A lot. In my childhood. I notice some detail and I get a barrage of questions, accusations, etc. It reminds me of some particular event.

There’s a soccer game being played in the village where I live. I’m perhaps 5 years old or so. A girl I usually play with asks me to come play at her house. We come to their front yard which has a large glass door leading from her parents’ bedroom into the garden there. The doors are closed and she’s leaning on the glass. She begins to bounce against the glass as I stand watching from a couple of meters away. I tell her she’s going to break the glass. I could see it clearly. She keeps on bouncing and the glass will inevitably break. I, the reckless boy who used to throw cats off the second floor balcony to see if they really had nine lives, am now worried about someone else’s glass. She says it won’t break. No sooner than she responds, the glass breaks under her bounce and she falls through.

Normally, one would be worried about the poor girl and check if she hadn’t cut herself, but for one rather nasty detail. Some time before that – could be that very summer – the boys – including myself – were playing soccer on the soccer field where the soccer match I mentioned earlier was being played. The house where the girl lived is just across the street from the soccer field and it’s easily visible, though not exactly within earshot, except from one corner of the field.

As we went on playing, we suddenly heard a scream of absolute terror coming from the girl’s house. We all stopped dead on the soccer field, facing the house, and in a couple of moments of absolute silence and motionlessness, we quietly dispersed and left for home, all of us shuddering in fear.

The father of the girl had beaten her older sister bloody.

So, when the glass breaks on a house owned by a family like that, you don’t show consideration for anything but your own skin. I was wind itself. I ran like all hell broke loose from behind the glass and the only place of safety was home. I ran upstairs to where my mother was sewing and sat in the corner and I tried to pretend I wasn’t catching my breath and that nothing out of the ordinary had happened.

But hell followed. The girl’s mother barged through the door, screaming that I had broken the glass, that it was my buttocks she saw as I up and ran from the scene of the “crime”.

My parents ended up paying for the glass.

But why did this particular event pop up in my head in relation to my “ability” to spot details and discern what had happened, or what might happen? I correctly foresaw that the glass would break. I warned the girl, but she broke it anyway, not listening to me. And my prediction was irrelevant. It didn’t matter what really happened at that house. The events that unfolded would have been exactly the same even if I had actually broken the glass. Of course, that would depend on how fast I could come up with a lie, but considering how good I am at lying (ironically, this same event being the catalyst for it) I suppose that would not pose a significant problem.

So it’s irrelevant. My “ability” whatever precisely it is – whether it’s noticing the details, predicting the future, whatever – is irrelevant. What I say or do is irrelevant. Things only matter if all interested parties have seen evidence of what exactly happened. So I remove myself from the situation. I make myself irrelevant. I ignore the burnt out light bulb until someone else has seen it. Why would I change it? If I do it before others notice, it will have been exactly the same as if it had never burnt out in the first place. Because my experience is – irrelevant. Because what I do is – irrelevant. Because I am – irrelevant.

I am a ghost and no matter what I do I can’t prove otherwise, because it is all irrelevant.

I had a dream that spoke of my irrelevance. I was riding a bike along some roads that seemed to have been built recently. I came to some kind of resort in the mountains, also very recently built. I remember I was a bit lost because I came to the same resort the second time. I then stopped there. There was a boy there and I did something, I don’t remember what. Whatever I did, however, was actually noticed by the boy’s family. They praised me for “rescuing” the boy, but I never felt the boy needed rescuing, or that I was rescuing him.

They were full of gratitude and to express it, they invited me for lunch. They lived at this new resort which suddenly didn’t seem so new any more (though I hadn’t really paid attention to that in the dream). I sat at the table and I saw the boy sitting there too. But he was chained to the table! Apparently it was because he wouldn’t finish his meal otherwise, but whenever I tried to ask him about it, I was interrupted by some noise or whatever.

Lunch was over, but I hadn’t gotten the meal I was invited to join. I noticed the boy’s family was Hindu, so I felt it must be a custom of some sort, that perhaps they were fixing me what they felt was a better meal. I kept waiting, uncertain if it would be considered offensive in their culture to tell them that I would be leaving, to refuse the meal I was invited to (but never offered) and whatnot. In my desire not to offend I noticed the boy was gone and I was sitting alone at the table as if it was I who were chained to it.

You would think that when you “rescue” someone they would be free. But not only did I not feel anyone needed rescuing at the time, the boy I supposedly “rescued” was then chained to the table. Whatever I did was irrelevant – the boy was in trouble either way. Maybe I even made his situation worse, because he was not enslaved when I “rescued” him. So I’m either irrelevant, or dangerous and I have no positive impact whatsoever on anyone, not even myself. At least according to the dream.

Also according to the dream, it seems that what’s holding me back is my concern for other people’s feelings. I play it safe when I don’t understand other people’s motivations, or customs and in such context “safe” usually means “to the detriment of my own goals and desires”.

I think one of the main reasons this was so with my wife too was because I had the feeling I was running out of time with relationships. I was looking for a perfect partner for so long that I decided I would lower my expectations. In a way, my decision to marry her was quite sensible because I wanted children, but what I failed to do was to pay attention to what I needed for myself. So I lashed out when my needs, goals, and desires weren’t met. I expected of her to provide for these, as I provided for what I thought were her expectations, but I never stated what I needed. I assumed that everyone can read my mind like I thought I can read theirs. But the reality is that I can’t. Nor can they read mine.

I once foresaw what was painfully obvious – that the glass would break – and it didn’t matter, because of what ensued. I kept assuming that I can foresee, or divine other things too and it continued to not matter, not because it was destiny, but because I couldn’t foresee them. They happened instead because I could behave in such a way that would make what I foresaw happen. And it was never something good because I was irrelevant. It was always something nasty, something I would not like to happen. I would fulfill my own worst prophecies.

It’s always been my belief that I was a superhero, obviously. I’ve been acting under the assumption that I can foresee the future and read minds. Now I think of my “superpowers” – some things have happened that made me believe that I can direct, through some variation of chaos theory, the future of mankind. But despite my assumed superpowers, I was helpless in helping myself, because I also believed I was irrelevant. But the truth was I was helpless in this because I didn’t have any superpowers and my avoidance of the future I have foreseen was what eventually brought about that very future. Also my assumption of what others thought have caused me to act in such a way as to really make them think so. What irony! The correct response to finally finding that out was not “I knew it!”, it was “I did it!”

It was an unconscious belief and had someone told me this I would have considered them an absolute loon. But then I would go out and start assuming what people thought even as they looked at me as we passed each other on the street, for example.

But there’s a catch in all this. I can, in fact, see very well when others have motives they aren’t disclosing. I’m often correct in predicting the future too. The thing is, I often behave as if what I see is inevitable when in fact it depends on what I’m going to do. My default response is to plan to alleviate the negative consequences, but what I should really be focusing on is to turn things around before it all comes to the bad end that I foresaw.

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