Sunday, January 20, 2019

3 Superheroes We Were

by Glenn T (writer), Las Vegas, NV, December 27, 2010

A reminder that that it isn't our superpowers that unite us, it's our shared disabilities.

As it has often been said, youth is indeed wasted on the young. Despite my protestations to the contrary, I know that I’m still a relatively young man - but just when I’m starting to feel particularly youthful I see a few college kids and realize: man, that was a long time ago. There’s no doubt that I believe that the youngest generation may show less promise and hope for the future than any that has preceded it (including the ones that endured plagues) - but that doesn’t mean they are powerless. In fact, as I look back on my own youth, I had no idea what powers or even superpowers I had ... until I lost them. Now, as a regular human going through life with the pedestrian limitations of the rest of the folks populating the 35-54 demographic (boy, does it suck to write that), I find myself not missing the social awkwardness, the hormone-fueled single-mindedness, or the utter lack of impulse control, but missing desperately my relative indestructibility, youthful exuberance, and other powers. So, as we prepare for yet another season of superhero movies and fantasies about flying wizards, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on 3 superpowers we all had - back when were young:

1. Walk It Off. I remember a time when injuries were a nuisance - an unwanted break in the action - which might force me to miss a few minutes of a hotly contested pick-up game, a recess chase or a practice. I remember the boundless optimism I took for granted with which I knew that I’d heal and I’d be back. I remember when after taking a nasty spill, I’d get up and walk it off. And all of those memories seem like a long, long time ago - like in-“Sepia”-tones long time ago. These days, if I stub a toe I’m feeling it a week later, and a real injury is likely going to last through the better part of the year. Now the first thing I think of when someone says “rehab” isn’t the Betty Ford Clinic or the pool party at the Hard Rock Casino, it’s spending humble mornings with a physical therapist lifting colored weights and rolling myself around on hard foam logs. My collection of athletic equipment, which used to consist of gloves, pads, straps and cleats, now has more braces and wraps than anything else. It’s a like a little neoprene shrine to my mid-30’s. Looking back, I’m pretty sure if I had been patient enough, I could have actually watched my body heal (Wolverine-style) in a matter of minutes right before my eyes. Nowadays, the only thing “super” about my healing ability is how fast it appears to have abandoned me.

2. Time Travel. Just like Deana Carter, I still remember when 30 was old. When life seemed long. No matter how hard I wished for it, time seemed to trickle along with all the velocity of a Palm Springs track meet. If memory serves, I’m pretty sure I was sixteen for about four years. School years (which were, in reality, only from late September to early June) seemed to last forever, and summers seem to stretch far beyond their allotted three months. Despite spending much of my youth despising my ability to stretch these days and months into years - there always seemed like plenty of time to do anything; to do everything. No venture or adventure was ever abandoned because of a lack of time to do it. Being “tired” was something I could always just will myself out of, or completely obliterate with a short nap. In short, time was both my friend and my enemy. I’m certain that my fevered desire to grow up as quickly as possible (due to an extraordinarily awkward youth) prevented me from truly enjoying the power to slow time to a crawl. But as my days, weeks, months and years (!!) begin to fly by like so much highway landscaping, I find myself wishing for even a vastly diminished version of it - if only to make the football, barbecue and weather of the fall last just a little bit longer. And though a younger me would kill me for saying it, I’d even be happy to let the intolerably hot, kids-out-of-school, and only-baseball-to-watch summer keep flying right by.

3. Guts of Steel. I’m fairly certain that, should circumstances have every really required it, that my teenage digestive system could have successfully processed a standard-sized bicycle (or similar mechanical device). When I think back on what I considered to be a “meal” back then, it’s a wonder that I wasn’t simply absorbed back into the earth on any number of times where I laid down in some open field. I dumped all manner of junk down my throat, with little if any regard for nutritional value of any sort. And I found it nearly impossible to gain weight. Yes, seriously. I tested the extremes of my ability to tolerate both heat and cold, and distinctly recall letting my ego decide how spicy I ordered my food. This power allowed me an almost carefree experience at any meal or eating establishment, and is all but gone today. Lately I make most of my food choices based on the amount of time in the gym I’ll need to spend working off whatever delicious morsel I’m considering. And when it comes to spicy foods, my GI tract demands that I take into careful account the risk-reward of telling the chinese food cook that where I’d like my Kung Pao chicken the 1-10 hot-scale (i.e. 10 will incite a full-on GI rebellion, and even a 7 will likely result in tears sooner or later). It’s not that I’m not grateful to finally be considering just exactly what I’m eating these days - I just miss the time when antacid was just something in funny commercials.

* * *

Of course as the universe takes away, it also gives, and with the loss of many of the superpowers of our youth comes a wisdom, confidence and presence that I wouldn’t trade to have all those powers back. With the diminishment of our physical abilities comes the savvy to use the ones we retain to even greater resource. There is greater joy in becoming a “wily, old veteran” than my old “rookie” self could have ever imagined. Looking back on these powerful days is, however, a reminder that as we sit and watch our youngest generation slip into an ever more comprehensive and unbelievable self-delusion, apathy, and ignorance, we are not simply dimming our previously bright future, but we may be wasting our most powerful resource - and eliminating all hope of finding the heroes we’ll need, super or otherwise.

About the Writer

Glenn T is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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4 comments on 3 Superheroes We Were

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By PATRICK PETION on December 28, 2010 at 02:25 pm

I felt so bad for those whom get stock on age as if age have something to do with it. it is all in your mind. if you think you can't so you can't. some athletes still plays at forty and think about it 15 to 25 is only 10 years of your life, so you mean we have only 10 great year and the rest is nothing, that stupidity

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By Glenn T on December 29, 2010 at 10:59 am

Sometimes I wonder if people even read my pieces before posting comments. Thank goodness all my newly found disabilities are "in my mind"! Now I can finally get into motocross, arena league football and competitive eating without any worry about my health!

Pretty sure most of the stuff I was talking about happened before 15 - but hey, why bother reading when you can just sound off? Seriously, if you can't reliably spell or punctuate, my writing probably isn't for you, anyways. Cheers!

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By Credo on October 21, 2013 at 12:19 pm

Excellent post.. Powers of youth verses the wisdom of the elders..


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By Alodia88 on June 24, 2014 at 01:34 am

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