It was hot today. I went down to Fort Langley to hang out and relax, and there were so many people there milling about, checking out the shops, eating gelato, and enjoying the sun. I wasn’t out in the sun, however, I was sitting in the shade trying to read, but two whining dogs tied to a truck hitch nearby made that less than relaxing. Instead, I decided to sit out the hottest part of the day, and made my way to the movie theatre to watch The Avengers in 3D.
Generally, I’m not a fan of 3D movies. After a minute or two of the 3D sensation, the effect seems to wear off and everything falls back into 2D. It’s like my brain figures out what’s going on and decodes everything so that my eyes fail to create the illusion. It’s kind of a pity, really. Instead of a lasting 3D experience, I leave the theatre with bloodshot eyes. The only advantage of this particular 3D showing was that it was playing when I arrived at the theatre.
The Avengers gathers the heroes of it’s previous films (The Hulk, Thor, Ironman, Captain America and others) into what Roger Ebert calls, “the Westminster Dog Show of superheroes.” It is a spectacle, to be sure, but a well balanced one, playing to each character’s unique strengths and abilities. At this point of the Marvel saga, none of the heroes have secret identities anymore, but they still have alter egos. When they aren’t in their slim-fit uniforms and outfits, they are simply the people they are.
This is something I have been working through: who is Jay Brandsma? It’s not an easy question to answer, because I’m not fully convinced yet that I don’t have super powers. Powers or not, knowing who I am is the most elusive, yet vital piece to the life I’m putting together here. It would be nice if it were all laid out somewhere, like in a comic book – stories of how I started, what my powers and weaknesses are (every hero has a weakness), the demons from my past that haunt me (every hero has those too), and the values and personality that guide my actions and battles. If I could just get that info packaged up like that, maybe with some flashy pictures, I’d be set.
Instead, I have to gather this stuff together in real time – real slow time. This is a long, arduous, and delicate process, one that can easily be swayed by trauma, insecurity, and weakness. Fear, pain, and even honest intentions can alter my steps, shifting my aim so that instead of looking for who I am, I am looking to be liked. My philanthropic nature can quickly take the priority from helping myself along, to helping others along, and while every superhero is praised for this behaviour, it can prove damaging for us mere mortals who are piecing life together after trauma. Trust me – I’ve been there, done that, and burned out. Just as physical rehab was my sole focus in the first couple years post-accident, my emotional and psychological rehab must take top priority now. I must continue to discover who I am. Like the glowing Tesseract cube in the movie, a clear understanding of who I am will become an unlimited source of sustainable energy, the key to future growth and development.
So I keep working at it. The first page of my comic book is unwritten now, save for a few things I’ve scribbled in the top corner, a collection of assumed constants and continuations from earlier in life – sense of humour and wit, good at spelling and math, a palatable style and appearance, etc… The rest is up for grabs, and I pencil things in before scribing anything permanently. As the list grows, however, I see more of who I am and what I am about. I notice flashes of familiarity, glimpses where my nature acted naturally.
I recognize myself.
And I fly away.