What Makes You Super
Though superhero sagas aren’t usually my thing, I really enjoyed the new “Wonder Woman” movie.
What I appreciated about most about this movie (aside from off-the-charts female empowerment) was how it filled in the history of this familiar character. I had seen old Wonder Woman cartoons as a kid, but they were all about what she was able to accomplish in the present, with none of the story behind how she came to be so, well, wonderful.
The new movie goes all the way back to this superhero’s childhood, filling in the emotional landscape of how she came to be who she is. We learn about who she has loved in her lifetime and who has loved her. We also discover what she has lost or given up, and how that shapes her.
I don’t want to give any spoilers, but I will just say that when Diana is growing up in the safety and security of the coolest island ever imagined in the universe, she doesn’t know her own strength – even though, ironically, she is surrounded by the world’s strongest women.
It is only through loving and losing that she discovers the depth of her soul and, thus, her abilities.
This turns out to be the back story of most of our cultural heroes. The vast majority of our favorite protagonists have been orphans: Superman, Spiderman, Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter, the list goes on and on. And most of them have drawn from the deep wells of what has been difficult and sorrowful in their lives. Their extraordinary powers are a byproduct of their extraordinary resilience.
Every time we do a Braid mentor training, the group brainstorms a list of the ideal qualities of a mentor. They end up being pretty impressive lists: compassionate, flexible, patient, persistent, empathetic, a good listener, fun, stubborn. After the board is filled with a list of amazing traits, I usually tell the trainees that it would take a superhero to embody all of these qualities at any given time. I say that to get a laugh, and to relieve the pressure of expectations.
But the truth is that our mentors really are superheroes.
You all DO embody almost all of these qualities, week in and week out, individually and as a group. In your teams you make each other stronger, and we have watched all of you grow in confidence and capability.
I am often curious to know the depth of your stories, our own resident superheroes. Less than 20% of folks who express interest in mentoring actually follow through on the training and paperwork. It is my strong suspicion that those of us who do this work are drawn to it because it rings a bell in our own inner experience, reminding us of love and loss in our own lives. Those who make it through are drawn to action to make the world better and safer for others.
While I may never know the deep wells that each of you draw your superpowers from, I am grateful every day that each of you has found your way to the mission of Braid.