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Gustave Courbet: Mère Grégoire (1855 and 1857/59)
" … the questionable superpower that comes from wearing Spandex®"

Like it or not, we live in a world that worships the superhuman rather than the more ordinary kind. Half the movies produced these days feature characters sporting so-called superpowers, capabilities no mere human ever possessed. These powers tend to be of limited utility, seemingly most often centered around fistfighting, for the villains in these films seem to be stuck in some pugilistic past where might makes right rather than in a more believable future where the bulk of the actual action occurs in firmware. The Spandex® suits suit few physiques, too, since few benefit from a costume that might just as well have been painted on. A more cultured hero might prefer to sport pleats and the occasional pattern rather than the uni-color jumpsuit with the obligatory logo.

Much of my life has been spent in the shadow of one or another superhero.
I was taught to strive to be my very best, but I'd lose motivation when comparing my MerelyHuman capabilities with those of the least of the many superheroes. I might sometimes feel the fierceness of a decent Incredible Hulk without ever experiencing the physical transformation necessary to take full benefit of it. My point might be that a real poison lies in these comparisons. The superheroes seem considerably less super when standing in their shadow. They offer nothing for any MerelyHuman anyone to aspire to. What might be their lesson? What must be their purpose? Do they mock us, we of such inherently limited means? Should we venerate or despise them?

Who are we? Who are we really? Who do we need to become to consider ourselves fully human, or has MerelyHuman somehow become a less-than-healthy aspiration? I acknowledge that I've spent much of my life in some form of aspiration, actively trying to become something different than my then-current manifestation. I wanted to improve on the stock model. Maybe gain a little horsepower. Perhaps even fly away. Maybe I could compete better. Maybe I might even become successful, unlike the wannabe state I inherited as my birthright. Always focusing on better might convince anyone he's already worse. The curse of continual asperation does not seem very much like a blessing. It might even qualify as a mortal sin to aspire to acquire so-called superpowers.

Nobody needs superpowers. Of course, imagining ourselves living relatively carefree lives, lounging around with the other gods in some floating cloud palace while looking down on the MerelyHuman far below us, seems terribly attractive. We might sell our inherent superpowers short. It might be that we mistake our superpowers for weaknesses, our strengths for vulnerabilities, for they surely could be both or either. One cannot possess one without also owning the other. Our search for superpowers amounts to a denial of inherent sufficiency, that seeking to become somehow supercharged delays realizing just how powerful we already are. These two hands, someone once asserted, are the hands of God. What greater superpower might we possess other than the questionable superpower that comes from wearing Spandex®?

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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