Thursday, November 1, 2007

Daredevil's Cloister


Last night was my second experience of a Franklin Street Halloween, the favorite October activity for college students anywhere in the southeastern United States. Though I have been college/post-college for seven Halloweens now, I normally avoid the event, not having a great love of crowds, drunk kids, or the various revelries the combination of the two are prone to arouse.

But last night I went with a friend who gathered a crew together to be the Planeteers, hearkening back to a TV show I never watched as a kid. (I mean, c’mon! How could I take a show seriously in which the villains concocted elaborate schemes in their great plot to destroy the environment?)

I actually don’t have much to say about Captain Planet or Franklin Street today; I want to talk about this obsessive comic book fanatic of a friend whom I love so much that I would not even hesitate to go out in a big crowd of drunk kids dressed in various debauched costumes, dressing as a character from a TV show I never liked who wore a pink shirt(!).

His favorite question to ask people is, “If you could have any superpower you wanted, what would it be?”

My answer had been easy, because during a brief X-Men phase of my childhood I had made up a character for myself. “I’d basically be a female version of Wolverine who could also fly,” I had answered, “if I’m allowed to combine those things. I always wanted to be indestructibly fierce.”

He had nodded pensively, reflecting on his own superpower of choice that he lamentably did not possess. Then he had asked the clencher: “What superpower do you think you actually have?”

After a long discussion, we had decided that I possessed the ability to walk through walls—entering easily in and out of completely different worlds. But years later he added another, which seems to adequately sum up one of the main points of his Superhero Theory of Life:

“Daredevil is a superhero that is actually blind,” he explained. “His other senses are so intensely sharpened that you would never know; he can walk into a room and know where the various people are by the feel, sound, and scent of the air. Some don’t know that he’s blind, and even those who do often completely forget.

“This is a great gift to Daredevil; he senses many things that go right over every else’s head. But like every great gift, it is also his tragic flaw. He might need to ask someone a simple question like ‘What color was that guy’s shirt,’ and he might miss some things that are obvious to everyone else. On the one had he ‘sees’ more than everyone else, but he needs to rely on others for some fairly obvious sights.

“And you,” my friend of seven years concluded as he looked at me knowingly, “do see a lot of things that go over other people’s head. But you also miss a lot of obvious things, and you need to make sure to get your bearings from your team every now and then.”

There is a severe grace in being given flaws. Like in the Superhero Theory of Life, our gifts and our flaws are often one and the same, but even the flaw-side is a severe grace. There is a grace in being finite, in needing to rely on others, in being unable to save the world alone.

For a friend who reminds me of that, I am delighted to brave the crowds of Franklin Street dressed as a pink-shirted planeteer.

2 comments:

Benjamin said...

Hey Emily,

“And you,” my friend of seven years concluded as he looked at me knowingly, “do see a lot of things that go over other people’s head. But you also miss a lot of obvious things, and you need to make sure to get your bearings from your team every now and then.”

I read this post once a long time ago, and it stuck in my mind. Do you remember discussing why being smart isn't all its cracked up to be? I wonder if this isn't

-BenRI

Benjamin said...

... a reason for humility that is more merciful all around. I also wonder if we all see different things that are invisible to others, and different ways that we are blind. By sharing both our vision and our blindness with others, we can both can share light as well as receive much needed mercy. I appreciate your special insight as well as your mercy. I hope you are experiencing that kind of community in Ireland :-)

χαρις υμιν,
-BenRI