I’ve been told before that I need to take better care of myself because I spend too much time taking thinking of others. And I’m not trying to humble-brag, so bear with me.
The image below is from Ultimate Spider-Man #4. Some people are unaware, but Marvel started a new line of comics in 2000 to refresh some of their classic characters without compromising timelines and continuity. They merely wanted to reimagine the stories we loved for a new generation. In 2000, I was 13/14-years-old, so essentially at the height of my impressionability (yes, that’s a word, I just verified it, you damn phone), not to mention I just came off my first working summer as a construction laborer at my father’s workplace, which meant I got to spend my money my way. This meant comics.
I read the first volume of Ultimate Spider-Man so many times it got to the point where I was seriously concerned about the structural integrity of that book’s spine and binding. It was one of the first trade paperbacks I ever had. And this page stuck with me every time.
I get so weird about stories. I can’t help it. I can’t just casually watch or read the scenes I know will bring the biggest emotional impact. I can’t look away when Theoden rallies the Rohirim on the fields of Pelenor. I have to remember to breathe when Gordon is laying out a major ethical dilemma and the ultimate sacrifice of self to his son at the end of The Dark Knight. I get chills every time Hogwarts raises their wands to the sky and unite in one moment to dispel the Death Eater symbol from the clouds, making two things clear: 1) You do not get to sully this place and 2) We stand in grief but we stand as one.
Then there’s this page.
Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley made this story of a white boy in 1960s Queens even more relevant to everyone today, because it wasn’t as simple as, “If you have power, use it right.” After all, when you’re not living next to what’s been called the greatest city on the planet or a minority during that turbulent decade for race relations, your sense of power might be a bit smaller, almost giving you the feeling that you therefore have a smaller obligation to your responsibilities. Almost.
Here, it’s more than feeling power: it’s just listening to that voice inside that that recognizes the world as it ought to be and pushes you to make it a little more real. Here, it’s about doing everything you can to make the world better, using the gifts at your disposal.
And I say “gifts” because, like the heroes on the comic book pages, we all have powers. Some just bloom later than others. And most we’ve yet to discover.
I wish that I wouldn’t feel as guilty about everything that I do all the time, but it’s just another thing I can’t help. I’ve been called gifted for a long time, but I look at some of what others have been able to accomplish with a more arduous background and I am humbled by them. So, how can I stop trying when there’s so much to be done?
I’m not always at my best, but I have to try when there’s strength left in my body, my mind, and my heart. I dont always pick the right thing to prioritize, either, and I’m sure there are consequences yet to come for misappropriating my time, but if I don’t try I can’t face myself at the end of the day.
“With great power comes great responsibility.”
Those words are carved into my soul, and I won’t apologize for it.