How to Become a Superhero (Quietly)

[W]hen one is destined for greater accomplishments in life, the preparation for such a journey can be extensive.”—Chin-Ning Chu, “Thick Face, Black Heart”

Is every day of your life a struggle?

Good for you.

It’s taken me 45 years to realize that a shitty life is a good life. Because a shitty life prepares you for anything.

No, not just anything. Something extraordinary.

What does an easy life of good fortune prepare a person for?

Nothing but ease and good fortune.

When life flings shit balls at you on a regular basis, you appreciate the shortest respite and smallest pleasure. A cricket hopping through your front door might bring you to tears.

A four-month romance could carry you for the rest of your life. Because it might have to. You might never get anything more.

And when you have to face a natural disaster or devastating diagnosis or foreign invasion, who’s going to make it? How will the person with the beautiful house and car and wife and children handle it when everything is wiped out? Like it’s the end of the world.

How will the person who struggles every day handle such a situation? Like it’s any other day.

I read that one of the actors who played James Bond (more than one of them, probably) was told to wear a tuxedo day and night to get comfortable in it. That way, instead of moving stiffly in a tux, Bond would feel like he was in sweat suit, equally ready for lounging or action.

When you’re wearing a shit suit every day, the same thing happens to you. Dealing with anything from minor disappointments to outright horrors is nothing. It’s like washing the dishes or scrubbing the toilet.

And if you do ever accomplish or receive something that many people take for granted as a normal part of life, such as a loving partner or a lucrative job or an attractive home, you’ll be overwhelmed with joy and gratitude.

If the universe needs you to be able to run an ultramarathon one day, you may spend most of your life in training. While your successful peers breeze through their 5K-level challenges and bask in the cheers of their admirers.

You’ll spend years screwing up, breaking down, recovering, incubating, or hibernating–doing seemingly nothing as you read and experience and observe and process and analyze everything.

People who claim to care about you will tell you you’re wasting time or aren’t meeting your potential. They’ll give up on you and abandon you. And wonder, often aloud, why you can’t just be like everybody else.

Your successful-looking peers may sneer at your laziness and lack of ambition. And flaunt the things they “worked so hard” for.

But they’ll let themselves go as they recall their glory days and snore through their last decades. They essentially finished life ahead of time and have little left to do. Because little was expected of them.

One day, you’ll outrun your detractors. But you still may not be appreciated or respected. They’ll tell you that you made a mess of your life anyway or that you waited too long and nobody cares now. They may not understand what you’ve done. It doesn’t matter.

You’re going to win, so get ready to celebrate.


Audio inspiration: “Sign of the Times” by Harry Styles