Death of a Superhero… Me

So, it’s the time of year for resolutions, goals, objectives, gaining a sense of what we would like to achieve in 2017. However, I’ve seen a lot of chatter on social media that suggests many are bucking the trend and not making any resolutions, hitting the new year with no particular plans to change the world or even change themselves. ‘Besides,’ the rhetoric goes, ‘what’s the point any resolutions will be reversed after the first few weeks, promises made to ourselves, no better than any promise from a politician.’ I even saw a humorous post that suggested someone was wanting to open a bar and gym, expecting the first few weeks of the year to be filled with enthusiastic Adonis want to be’s, and then after that, as we all settled for our out of breath fat, the gym would be transformed into a bar. Now there’s something I could get on board with!

As 2017 rolls around and begins to take us on its whirlwind journey through time, I am acutely aware of my fragility, my weakness, my inability to do just about anything, including relationships, highlighted recently through a messy ending. Like a superhero stripped of their powers, I am left flailing in the face of any super villain that wants to come along. I had a conversation about this very thing several years ago. A friend and I were meeting at a café and talking about the fact we had both made it past 33, which meant that neither of us were the Messiah. As flippant as that sounds it was a staunch reminder to a workaholic activist with a Messiah complex that I indeed was not the saviour of the world, nor would I ever be.

I think its only been in the last couple of years that I’ve been fully convinced of that realisation’s truth. My fantasy of being a superhero, of fighting evil and changing the world towards the common good by whatever means at my disposal is well and truly dead. The urge to jump into any new project that promised salvation no matter how temporal has been replaced with a reluctance and the realization that my abilities and energy are in fact finite. As a mentor recently commented, ‘welcome to the human race.’

My sense of fragility was only heightened over Christmas as I spent time with Mum and Dad. To be fair it has been a hell of a year for them, both experiencing cancer, with Dad struggling to see and looking reminiscent of an emancipated prisoner of war and Mum reluctantly beginning to accept her role as carer. On returning to Melbourne, aware of their mortality and mine I found myself experiencing a few days of emotional exhaustion. Coming towards the end of that time I began to see something new.

 

I’ve always seen admitting fragility as weakness and so have worked to suppress it, recently I’ve not been so successful. However, perhaps that is not a bad thing. Owning my fragility, letting the false superhero die has in fact allowed a new authenticity and humility to come to the surface. It’s true I can’t just pick up any project that comes along, I’m finding more and more if the project doesn’t line up with the truth revealed by this new authenticity and humility I have a very strong reaction against it. This points to a deeper level. Saying ‘no’ is not a sign of laziness or avoidance, but in fact an affirmation of identity, of who I am created to be, what I am created to do. The unique me. Even though fragility is awkward and uncomfortable, it’s part of being human and it seems part of being uniquely who we are meant to be.

So this year, if there are any resolutions to be made, I’m not going to resurrect the superhero, instead I’m going to embrace my fragility and the identity it reveals.

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