By Macile Dietrick
Everyone wants to be a comic book hero: the crime-fighter who vanquishes evil, the Superman who saves Metropolis, the mouthpiece of truth and the server of justice.
Everyone wants to be invincible.
The trouble is, people don’t have superpowers, and villains aren’t just waiting to be defeated. We all have weaknesses that stop us from trying to be invincible, overcoming enemies, and achieving greatness. Over time, this kryptonite tells us what we can and cannot do; our will and strength wane.
But I knew a kid who was invincible.
I knew a kid who resisted the kryptonite and kept on fighting: a kid named Clark.
Clark was born to a mother addicted to methamphetamine, a father who promptly died in a motorcycle accident, and a life of poverty.
For the first years of his childhood, he was cradled in the arms of the Foster Care system.
Then Clark stumbled into Petaluma, and a couple finally adopted him. First grade at Meadow Elementary School and basic math tutoring by a classmate—who happened to be my brother—propelled him into a world of opportunity.
Although my brother and I were never aware of it, our friendship, as well as Clark’s new home and family, was the lifeboat on his sinking ship.
But a foe, invisible to us, had begun to take hold of Clark: Attention Deficit Disorder was afflicting his brain, and a Myeloproliferative disorder was silently deteriorating his bone marrow. There was nothing any of us could do to save him.
Yet, when he could have let ADD foil his learning, he kept reading. When he could have let the surgeries and time on crutches blight his childhood, he continued to smile. When he could have let the kryptonite engulf him, he refused to give in.
No disadvantage, however mighty, would stop Clark from enjoying the life he had been given.
For a long time, I was oblivious to his struggles; he seemed to be just another ordinary kid. But like Clark Kent, the boy I saw was only an alias. Beneath the disguise was a plate of impenetrable armor, a child who believed nothing could defeat him: a child who was invincible.
I was never this child. I faced the obstacles that most other kids faced, like difficulty in school and shyness, arbitrary things, futile things, yet I cowered from them. Clark could conquer poverty and disease, while I let everyday challenges conquer me.
Though I may not be invincible, it doesn’t mean I can never be. I realize now that being invincible is not being without weakness: it is facing weakness to overcome it. It is the ability to see your own flaws and fears, and work towards a goal in spite of them.
For Clark, the disadvantages were many, but every hero has his kryptonite. Whether it is a debilitating disability, or whether it is only a temporary problem, it is always possible to overcome, to face with invincibility.
The heroic thing is to not let your faults defeat your superpowers.