Superheroes were supposed to be our muscular saviors, leaping into the indigo skies, their logos embossed upon their chests. They were supposed to be humble yet confident, thoughtful and strong, clever and quick-minded, outwitting their opponents at any personal cost.
Superheroes were supposed to be perfect.
No one can be, though. It is virtually impossible to balance everything—Asian values of family and humility through work, and Western values of living life for yourself and earning pride through accomplishment. Where is the time to be perfect?
So, we make choices. At every turning point, a fork appears. Your choice determines your heroism. Soldiers lay their lives on the line, not knowing what tomorrow will bring, but they bear this uncertainty in order to fight for basic principles they believe in. Doctors are not soldiers, but they struggle against disease, and we laud them for attempting this. And comedians? Sometimes we forget that amidst cancer, or the common cold that plagues us, a little laugh can show us the rays of light waiting patiently at the end of this tunnel.
In Indian culture, superheroes are Gods. They complete tasks we can only dream of attempting: slaying demons, fighting injustice, and exemplifying the perfect man. Marvel Comics, too, displays a disparity between the common man and Spiderman or Wonder Woman. Don’t we all, as children, lose ourselves in the simple, surreal world of “good versus evil” and happy endings, from Amar Chitra Kathas to Superman? At young ages, don’t we fall into books and allow our minds to recreate the scenes where our favorite character defeats the antagonist and gains back what he has risked? Small and inexperienced, we believed in the fictional characters of fairytales, falling asleep dreaming and believing that one day, if Cinderella could live in such a world, reality would treat us the same way.
And at least six or more years later, who can say we gave up on those fairytales, opening our eyes to the actual world around us? Superheroes gave us hope. So as teenagers, when we realize that all the walls we try erecting around ourselves aren’t protecting us from the true nature of this world, we lose those dreams and those hopes and forget where to turn to.
But slowly, as we mature, we hope we can begin to understand where dreams end and where reality begins, where the fine line between sanity and lunacy lies. We hope we begin to notice where responsibilities enter the picture, and how each road we choose at an intersection affects the rest of the day. We hope we begin to perceive how the smallest of actions can lend a smile to a face, and how the seemingly insignificant build up to become noticeable.
We hope we can begin to recognize that a few rays are all that make up a droplet of sunshine, and we learn to group together those droplets and create our own suns of happiness. Most importantly, we hope we can start to realize that this life is really a journey to develop, shape, perfect, and then use our own inner superheroes.