Monday, September 12, 2011

Batman Saves The Day

I was an all-or-nothing child. Things were either perfect or horribly defective. There was no in-between. There were no shades of gray. My worldview was formed by a need to survive. We moved often, and every time I made friends, I had to leave them and make new ones. My little ego had to form some sort of outer shell to confront the world, because rejection of some form was always just around the corner. If I was perfect, then all would be right with the world. If someone hurt me, I cut them out of my life completely. This does not make for a great social life.

I found solace in books. Lots and lots of books. I read until my head hurt. It was safer to escape in a book like Half Magic or The Secret Garden than to try to make new friends. After I had read every single book in the kid's section of the library on base, my parents started buying me comic books to read. Those were cheaper, my mother said, and I didn't seem to mind reading them over and over.

That's where I found Batman. I adored the Dark Knight from the very first issue I read. He was the only superhero I knew at the time who didn't actually have any superpowers. By sheer will, Bruce Wayne made himself into a hero, the World's Greatest Detective. He was intelligent, but in a way that I had never considered before--he was street smart. Bruce Wayne understood the heart of darkness that is in all of us because it was in his heart as well. He IS the heart of darkness. Batman knew what was out there, and he was ready for it.

Batman isn't really an all-or-nothing type of character, except that he never intentionally kills anyone. He doesn't always do the right thing. Sometimes he is willing to break laws to catch the criminals. He scares the bejeebers out of people on purpose. Technically he IS a criminal, a vigilante. Batman takes the law into his own hands on a regular basis, if it suits his purposes. For Batman, right is relative; the world is full of shades of gray. The ends, getting criminals off the streets, justify the means.

Batman wasn't perfect, but he was still a hero. He certainly changed my perspective. Maybe the world isn't black and white, I realized. All-or-nothing people don't live long in this world. Those comics inspired me: what was I doing hiding in my room? Just because someone I thought was my friend hurt me today didn't mean that they would do the same thing tomorrow. I needed to be out there. I needed to experience the world, learning as much as I could, so I could be ready for anything.

Like Batman. Except for the cape. I don't do capes.


  1. WOW! Reading Batman comics sounds WAY better than me trying to find a therapist...who knew! Holy Genius..Kapow!

  2. Thank you. I needed that today as I was threatening to bubble wrap my house....


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