Finding Meaning & Answers Through Fictional Superheroes
My heroes generally weren't real, but still served a purpose. A few would become intrinsic interests of mine, and offer enlightenment on my own life journey
The fantasy worlds I reside in may not be your typical idea of fantasy, lacking dragons or space pirates. Make believe has always had to make sense to me. Playing house as a kid made sense since I'd observed adults do it. Joining fantasy worlds with friends was much harder to maintain.
The same context followed over into reading and I'd find myself more interested in non-fiction books from an early age. The majority of fiction books I could not build a world for. My brain lacked the textures. Ender's game would be one of many I'd never read, getting confused trying to build the world.
The world of fantasy I present you is drawn up from the real one. The Metropolis' and Star Cities of the comic book world. I'd never claim to be a comic nerd, because I neither collected them nor broadened my horizons much past intrinsic interests.
I first responded to both Spider-man and Peter Parker. He'd find the same confrontation I would each day, being belittled for everything. "You suck Puny Parker!" indicating he was weak. "Mary Jane would never be interested in someone as dull as you," indicating he wasn't enough. "Get your nose out of the books Parker! You'll miss the world!" indicating something was wrong with wanting to learn.
Spider-man was my alter-ego; a boy slowly building up a mask to face the world with, trying to fit in. If I didn't tell people I wanted to be Microbiologist and cure disease, they couldn't call me a nerd or geek. Most social things didn't make sense, like trends or popularity.
I'd reasoned if I got famous overnight, my world would change. My bullies wouldn't want to bully me anymore. I wouldn't have to try so hard to get girls with my gentle nature. Much like Peter imagined his world would change if they knew he was really Spider-man.
I started hiding away parts of me that I'd get bullied for and building two versions of myself. The one people saw, and another the crept out from the shadows from time to time. I'd reasoned that after high school, things would go much smoother for me, like they did for Peter.
I was assigned a report in Grade 9 on my favourite hero. The teacher didn't argue when I explained that although Spider-man was based in a comic, he was very much my hero and inspiration. I received an A on an assignment that included a hopeful prediction. I hoped the piece of symboite Dr Conner's held onto, might become Carnage in a fourth movie. But between the franchise and connotations to my love life, my passion for Spider-man was destined to die.
What had drawn me to Spider-man, was the opposite of what grew a hate for Superman. Spider-man wasn't invincible, while Superman was indestructible unless in the presence of little green rocks from his home planet. I wasn't special in my reason for disliking Superman, but would grow a unique and instant love for a television show based on him growing up and discovering his powers.
I'd lived a very sheltered early life of Disney movies. When I did turn 14, I'd still have to inquire with my parents on whether a show was appropriate or not. One bored weekend in Grade 9, I flipped to YTV, a Canadian cartoon channel. But it wasn't a cartoon playing.
I was instantly hooked. When the half an hour time show was nearing it's end, I was concerned because the episode was far from wrapped up. I'd be introduced to my first hour long television show. It was called Smallville, whatever that was. It ended with a farm boy, Clark Kent, throwing a crystal in the arctic and creating a crystal fortress. I lost my weird boy mind and demanded to know what happened before and after! I didn't realize the show was about Superman; something I hated.
I'd be drawn to a show about a boy who was different from the other kids and knew it. He tried to hide it as best he could, and no one had answers for him. When someone did, they were often veiled with hidden intentions. By the middle of Grade 11, I owned the entire series up till that point and had rewatched the first six seasons six times. It was only another indication that I wasn't like normal boys.
While I could hardly relate strongly to Superman, relating to a small-town farm boy being bullied was entirely possible. Every few episodes, he'd find something 'weird' about himself. Things that he couldn't tell anyone except his parents who could only understand to a degree, much like mine.
Clark had a love interest who he'd want to tell everything, but would only find reasons for why he couldn't. Could she accept him? Would she be safer not knowing? In one episode, he did tell her and it only led to her death.
He'd meet other weird characters; friends and foes. Some had weird intrinsic interests like me that shaped their character. Most started with good intentions, but became misguided. Each episode contained a moral. I'd upgraded from the fairy-tales I grew up on.
The show was where I found my deepest meaning in high school. I related to Clark and his good nature, but as the series progressed, I couldn't help but see myself as a poor mans Lex Luthor. A man wise beyond his years, but for all the intellect, couldn't stay out of trouble.
I'd always been certain of one thing; I learned more about history from Michael Rosenbaum's character than I did in history class. By the time I'd grown a connection to Lex, I'd become aware I was watching Superman's origin story. I knew of Lex's evil nature. I also allowed myself to continue watching as the director stated "No tights, no flights". This was never really going to be about the Superman I knew.
Lex didn't seem to start evil, much like Clark didn't start off a hero. I was both characters, battling myself. I'd notice things out of my control, like meltdowns and anxiety. My intellect led to great jokes, but they were often dark and based in reality.
What I saw in Lex, was a man who'd grown trust issues for everyone around him. An ode always ringing through my ear in high school; our actions don't just affect ourselves, but those around us. I'd watch Lex struggle with all of his. Like me, often able to justify what action led to what appeared bad.
I'd look unto them both for advice on how to better myself and be strong. "Did you know that Phillip of Macedonia was raised among lions to instill fear? History now knows that boy as Alexander the Great," which struck me for I felt like a cub among a school of lions. Where my language would betray me, pop culture wouldn't.
According to Lex's father, he was throwing his life away. Lex would retort that maybe he was forging a future free of his own. However, Lex was unable to rid himself of the past. "It's about the journey, not the ending,".
And much like I had two confusing girls in my life, so did Clark. His feelings for one, like mine, were clearly greater. And while Juliet initially embodied Lois Lane, I'd start to wonder if she wasn't the Lex in my life. Having understood so little and feeling betrayed, hatred became better and easier. "If you look at the great men and women of the world, they were defined by their Villains,".
I'd rewatched the series so many times that I'd never finished it. I owned season 10, but was burnt out. Like the journey, it only led to a neat moment in the future where I was inclined to finish a series that had been so impactful on Little Jory.
With high school ending the way it did, both my childhood Superheroes became mostly figments of the past. My heroes would be based in reality for a long time, usually in the form of scientists or philosophers.
Initially I blamed Toby McGuire for killing my love of Spider-man, wanting absurd amounts of money for three more movies. That all happened while Spider-man died in the comics and the Ultimate Spider-man was born. The future was uncertain!
When they booted up the series a second time and gave Gwen the spotlight she deserved, I'd hopped back on board; as long as they killed her. They did! I was on board just in time for the franchise to fall short. I now blamed Garfield for the flop.
But I'd also needed a new association for a vibrantly weird high school relationship. Juliet became Gwen Stacey and I'd only managed to snap the neck of our relationship trying to protect her from my reality. A weird boy who'd grown worried I might hug the love of my life to death. I was pretty done with Spider-man.
I'd have gotten away with it too if it wasn't for Tom Holland. He looked 10! Maybe I'd get the saga I was waiting for! But the newest installment only became a clear example on how pandering kills creativity and story.
One thing had become clear; heroes were hot, but comics were not. When Arrow first aired, I wasn't sure what to expect, having not followed much of the DC comics. I was searching for my next philosophical journey. I didn't find my new hero, but found the aspect I'd always garnered interest for.
The show was a success and the universe began to expand, but I hadn't been interested in watching The Flash. Always stubborn in my convictions, he'd gained a reputation much like Superman. What was the point of watching or reading something about someone who could make everything you read or watched, irrelevant? His ability to reverse time seemed like an easy cop out.
However, I'd gotten all I could from arrow and it fell stagnant on me. I decided to give The Flash a try, and I'd instantly see the same tropes I'd found in Smallville, but from an adult perspective.
The science had me hooked. I'd only take it with a grain of salt, but how was it really any different than theoretical physics? They only presented theories and justified them as best they could. Since I hadn't read any comics, the TV variety of Barry Allen is all I know.
The idea for writing a story about my life came in 2014 at the age of 22, but I wouldn't sit down and find my voice for five more years. In the time, my interest for the intricoes got bigger. I'd also arrived at a point where I wondered whether to include a girl or not in the books. I hadn't yet realized how impossible that would have been.
I still didn't have the memories she'd locked down, only the negative, but I'd started writing what I knew. I hadn't seen Juliet in over a decade, only heard her ruminate throughout time. I'd only been writing her chapters for five days when my mother asked if I needed to get out of the house. She knew something was up, but she didn't know what I was writing about. Like everything else, talking about Juliet had become irrelevant.
We went to Costco, a place a single man generally doesn't shop. While mother looked over meats, my brain got bored and wandered looking for stimulation. Or perhaps I'd smelt something in the air. I surveyed to the right, but had seen something of interest and scanned back to the left. There, in the distance, stood Juliet smiling.
Time slowed down; the only girl time had ever slowed down for. I tried to psychically ask if she knew how unfair that was for the most romantic boy on earth. But all that really mattered, was that she still smiled. Little Jory had made a vow once upon a nightmare; I needed to make sure she still smiled in her adult life. All I could do in the meantime was continue to be better in case she did need me.
I left Costco, and like most of life, was left dealing with it on my own. I looked out the window as my brain raced. Five minutes earlier, I might have been far too close for comfort. Five minutes later, and our distance in the Costco production line would have been too great.
I'd wondered much what I'd wondered in high school. I'd briefly lived in the small town 8 years before I moved back out for high school. I'd asked Juliet when we finally started dating if she'd been on the same playground as me in Grade 2. She hadn't, but that didn't stop me from wondering now, how many aisles Juliet had been just around, if any. I took the event for what I needed it to be; my way out.
I'd spent most of life with the belief that one girl had magical powers, but I'd grown up by this event and realized that she couldn't slow down time. That was impossible. Time, it was relative to the individual. Time wasn't slowing down, but my brain could be speeding up so fast, that time had the perception of being slow.
I only came to the same conclusions I had throughout life, I wasn't a normal boy. That became the day I grew a love for Barry Allen and The Flash, much like I had Clark Kent and Superman in high school, or Peter Parker and Spider-man in elementary. I'd hated that brain for so long, and only prayed to be normal. But what was once a curse, now only appeared to be a superpower, one like Barry Allen's.
In 2017 I'd left in order to find myself again. The following summer, I'd put a cape around the drivers seat. I'd endured, I made it through without anyone listening. I'd become my own superhero. Two years later, I acknowledged the superpower, and a year after that, got an Autistic diagnosis.
I'd grown much more connected to Barry Allen than the others, having only known a life of running, a life of only my actions seemingly having consequences. He dwelt in the past, on all the things he'd lost and could never recover. The more he tried to change the past, the more he'd screw it up.
I wasn't even sure when I could go back in time to change anything with Juliet. I knew even less now, than I had then. I could only pick out key moments in my journey where I'd learned the things a weird boy needed to. A moment at Mc Donalds where I'd been allowed to breathe and I'd figured out I'd made relationship decisions without the other persons input. Or that Juliet didn't really want to beat me up, she was just more aggressive in her foreplay.
But at that point, I still lacked all faith in myself. Maybe the better point of intersection was when I'd found my new dream 3 years later. Or maybe there was no point I could have changed things. Maybe the hurricane was always going to happen, no matter which direction I flapped my arms from.
I realized after writing her chapters and now heavily associating myself with The Flash, that I'd reached a point in my own life where I could no longer justify going back in time to change anything. Much like The Flash was created from the very loss of his mother, Major Jory was created out of the same sorts of trauma.
I'd experienced a whole plethora of life's offering. Knowing at a young age I had brain stuff, but not being listened too. Being bullied most of school. Not understanding people, including partners. Abuse in many forms. Putting up a mask to fit in. Having big dreams, like being a Microbiologist and curing disease, only to end up the one thing I'd never wanted to be; a high school drop out.
I'd lost my mind, but that wasn't something I was telling other kids. It had become clear they didn't hold psychologist degrees and the professional help I'd received up till that point wasn't any better. I'd somehow become the worst person, while working hard for establishments that had me serving up onions and peppers that had been on the floor. Or businesses cutting my shifts when I'd finally complain about nightly sexual harassment.
I'd end up in the one place a seven-year-old boy was afraid he'd end up; the mental ward. I'd had my first semi-colon in Grade 6, and add two more by 20 before heading in. I was afforded the ability of exceptional memory, a haunting one.
I'd get my validation from health officials who would come in and compare me to "Egyptian slaves". I'd worked hard to get somewhere in life and formed new dreams. To help people by starting a non-profit electrical company. To help people like Tiny and Little Jory had wanted to.
For a long while, the noble thing may have been to go back and shout louder, to save both our high school experiences. I'd since visited my grave and understood far too much about my irrelevancy in the universe. I live with it everyday; the good, the bad, and the times I narrowly made it out. I'd like to forget, but than I'd never remember what made me. Who would I even be?
The noble thing was no longer to go back and even try to salvage anything for my possible future love-life. The noble thing was now to accept and continue on each day. That even if I only managed to help five people out on my next journey, that's still three more people I'd be helping than had I gone back to save myself.
If I could help any weird boy get through or understand earlier. If I could prevent a young kid from turning to drugs. I'd be hard pressed not to include the news of the teenager who played a young Barry Allen in the show. Overdose by fentanyl at 16, and started drugs at 13. I couldn't even imagine where I'd have ended up if I'd started smoking pot any earlier than I had.
While I definitely do things for the recognition, I do them far more with the intent to help someone through something. It might be with understanding, like the musical artists that got me through my struggles. The comfort of knowing that someone else had the same thoughts, or felt the same thing. Maybe even adding a smile to someone's face and instilling hope gives them enough to carry on their own story. We forget that there is seven billion other stories unfolding right alongside ours.
What The Flash really did, was allow me to accept that past, as well as an uncertain future. I couldn't have imagined I'd have gotten this far in life, or in any of the ways I had. What I experienced from other people, I'd never found in movies or television; I was unprepared and ill-equipped for the real world.
The Flash would go on to become the Paragon of Love, which only further solidified his position in my life. I had a big heart, and I always had. Little Jory simply hid it away for a long time, no longer wanting to end up hurt from the exposure. I'd felt enough pain.
I also found hope for my own love life, since I'd never associated with Iris West or a love that formed in the adult life. After a long time of thinking I'd been romantically screwed, I started to wonder where my Iris was.