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It’s been quiet over at the holler spot as of late. I’m going through this thing that I’ve always been going through but every so often, such as now, it wreaks havoc on my ability to write. This blog has grown and matured into a thing that I sometimes view as beautiful. Then there are other times when I think it’s pointless. It began about me. But then I got tired of me and started chopping it up about my kids. Then I got wary of discussing them online and turned topical. There is material aplenty in this department, but everyone deals with what is going on everyday. What more can I possibly add to the conversation? There are so many good bloggers out there blogging their asses off. Hell, even my wife’s Facebook statuses (stati) are the stuff of sitcom scripts, garnering comments that often reach into the double digits. So instead of writing about what I think is going to get me traffic or comments or what I think readers want to read, right here and right now I’m just going to write about something that’s been on my mind for quite some time: superheroes.

For those of you who have been around since this blog was conceived you know I have a certain affection for the completely imaginary/absurd when it comes to men who are super. Now mind you I’m not into everything super. Even though I’m African American I don’t dig Black Panther, Power Man or Steel. Black superheroes (who are written for the sake of being Black, diversity or whatever, rather than super and coincidentally Black (such as Storm who is African so she doesn’t really apply anyway)) are pandering and boring. I’m not into superheroes who can turn on computers or light bulbs with their minds, or ones whose sole power is to run fast, nor am I into the mystics, like Dr. Strange. Thor doesn’t really do much for me either. Captain America never appealed to me because all he is is strong (albeit forever young), he has a motorcycle and a giant Frisbee that defies physics and acts like a boomerang. I never thought Iron Man really had any powers. He just had stuff that made him strong. Strangely I absolutely dreamed of being the android, Vision, but hey who can make sense of their every preference? And I can’t say that I’m a fan of many supervillains other than maybe Venom, Green Goblin, Hobgoblin, The Joker, Magneto and of course Darth Vader, as he’s been mythologized in comics, books and video games, not portrayed in movies. Then there are my favorites: Peter Parker, the Amazing Spider-Man, Bruce Wayne, the Batman, Clark Kent a.k.a. Superman the Kryptonian, Wolverine, the crazy, feral man with no memory who is indestructible. Rogue, the chick who is all powerful at the price of not being able to touch anyone directly. The list is a little longer than this but not by much.

What brought all of this on? I was reading an article about Sony’s decision to can the original Spider-Man franchise’s fourth installment. Mind you this franchise put the B back in blockbuster weekends, but apparently due to extreme creative differences with Sam Rami (which after S3 I can definitely believe) it’s done. They are going to do a reboot and put Parker back in high school. Spider-Man 1 was so good. I’m not sure why they would do a reboot while the franchise is still fresh in this generation but what do I know? I digress. In the article they interviewed Stan Lee, Spidey’s co-creator and God of Marvel, and he made the statement that Parker is a boy who struggles with wanting to be more than he is. We are in a world currently gone mad (but mostly stupid), where priorities are all over the place, where children have more technology than adults, where athletes who run around in circles get paid millions of dollars to run around in circles, where I am forced to care about the lives of celebrities because their news is most of the news that is on the news. Politics? Please. All of this besides making me wanna holler, makes me occasionally wish I was more than what I am. I wish I could be so busied with the matters of saving others, keeping my head attached to my neck, or keeping intergalactic peace that I honestly couldn’t have enough energy to give a damn. And I’d be doing some good in the process.

Which brings me to the superhero’s paradox: Who is the person, the man without the mask or battle armor or the one with it? “Peter Parker who is secretly Spider-Man,” as the statement goes. What’s the secret? Spider-Man is a public figure. No one knows who Parker is. That’s the real secret. Spider-Man needs to keep Peter Parker secret from the watching world as well as the people he loves. A mask is made to conceal, but in the case of the superhero the mask reveals. Their true characters emerge in ways they never could when they are just wearing their God-given faces. Peter Parker becomes the un-defeatable wiseacre as soon as he pulls his down over his face. When the impossibly rich, super-polished Bruce Wayne dons his cowl his seething rage and borderline insanity erupts from within. Superman is Superman first, Clark Kent second. He is Clark Kent so he can exist among us and have some semblance of a normal life and stay abreast of what’s going wrong in the world (as a reporter). And interestingly enough under the guise of Clark Kent, he wears most of his wants and desires on his sleeve.

But don’t we all have that mask that occasionally reveals who we truly are? I watched my son playing basketball last week and I saw someone on the court that I don’t know at home. Confident, barking at opponents, knowing where to be, driving the basket, passionate, fluid, not exactly graceful but definitely on his way --- almost powerful. It was awesome to watch.

Several months ago in the midst of a heated “debate” with my wife, she said, “As far as that blog goes, I don’t know who is writing that or what he’s writing about because that certainly ain’t you!” [This is more or less what she said.] It felt like I had been kicked in the chest. I defended myself in the moment but many days later, I turned on my laptop and began scrolling through the hundreds of posts I’ve compiled here and genuinely began to wonder whether I’ve unknowingly created another persona in the form of Man, Dad, Husband. Or am I just truly my authentic self in written word? Is this site my mask and battle armor? Are the words/desires that I type here my weapons/powers?

Every superhero has his weakness, his Achilles heel. Superman has Kryptonite. In the case of Batman his greatest strength is also his greatest weakness: he won’t kill. Similarly, I love hard and even stupidly at times, both people and things I dedicate my passions to, and for reasons unbeknownst to me I believe I’m supposed to receive that same level of love in return. But I keep on loving anyway because I believe that there is real, life-giving (besides the obvious) power in love, even if very few others do or even know what this means.

Weaknesses aside, every superhero has a moment of reckoning where they analyze the price they’ve paid for living two lives. Despite all that he is as Spider-Man, Peter Parker is broke and perpetually losing at love. Even if he were to get his mommy and daddy back, Bruce Wayne knows he cannot cast off the monster he’s created though there are tugs at his heartstrings for a normal life. Iron Man (who I’ve come to love since the rise of Technology and personally careening out of control toward the age of 40), has been fully suited, passed out next to his true demon, an empty bottle of liquor, trying to make sense of it all. Kal-El, otherwise known as Superman, longs for a homeworld and family he’ll never know and struggles with being a god amongst men and being needed but feared and even hated at the same time. I, someone who isn’t even close to being average, let alone super, write a blog that now a modest few thousand people read from time to time. From the comments and emails I receive, readers actually have come to believe I’m somewhat insightful and maybe a little wise beyond my years. But in the real world, I’m as broke as a joke and have a wife who I’m not sure is able to love me two days in a row in any week of the year. I have a son who most days of week comes off as if I am having no impact on him whatsoever as he heads into manhood (he’s a teen so I try to keep this in mind). Like the Dark Knight, I’m a guy who’s lived long enough in the lives of those closest (extended family, too) to me to watch myself go from being the hero to the villain. I’m a dude who paces out in front of my daughter’s school pretending to send text messages while all the other parents saddle up in their German and luxury Japanese vehicles. After they’ve gone then I walk to my truck that I smashed in on one side backing out of my own garage and can’t afford to fix. At my wife’s company Christmas party I was literally climbing the walls, not sure what I was going to say if someone asked me anything, fretful that that someone was going to engage me in a real conversation and discover my true secret: I’m a guy who didn’t believe in myself enough as a younger man to pursue any of God's given gifts given to me that are my passions. My gifts are ones that I desire so strongly to give back to Him to glorify Him (and make some bread at the same time). Instead I opted to join the rat’s race and run at the rat’s pace only to discover that I don't belong, after trying again and again to fit in. I've never belonged, not even for a minute. And like most superheroes, I am an outsider to what society and most people consider and accept as “normal”. Fortunately for me my daughter currently believes I’m about as good as it gets when it comes to super men. When so many can’t or refuse to, she seems more than willing to see and extol the good in me, despite my missteps and flaws. She hasn’t yet been so tainted by the world that she opts to love conditionally and to judge without merit. I hope the world doesn’t rob her or any child of this naturalness. All I can do is pray against the inevitable.

So maybe I’m super after all. Like these fictional characters I have something to hide, but at the same time I am something that the world (Internet) views as honorable, complex, somewhat unique and maybe even half-decent. But at the end of the day no one really knows who I am. Like most combating a world gone mad (but mostly stupid), I’m trying to hold my family together in a world gone mad (but mostly stupid). And at what price? Pieces of me? My sanity? Never being at peace? Always waiting for the other shoe to drop? Wondering what life would be like without me? (No worries, I’m not suicidal) How would the people who depend on me, both young and old, get along? Or maybe it’s simpler than all of this? Maybe it’s just what people like Stan Lee and Bob Kane tapped into decades ago: wanting/aspiring to be more than you actually are and being forced to fight the good fight at the same time because of your powers/abilities that take turns being blessings and curses in your life. And then somewhere in the midst of the battles the hero emerges and realizes his calling.

I haven’t figured it out yet. If and when I do, maybe I’ll let y’all know.

Or, maybe I won’t. After all, I’ve got a secret identity to protect.

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