I long ago lost count of how many books I’ve read so far in my lifetime to date. If you want a peek of what a lighter reading year is like, click here. (And, yes, I consider that a lighter year. I could have done double that easily had circumstances not prevented it.)
I think it’s easily well over a thousand books so far. Maybe over two thousand. Or over three? I just don’t know. And there’s no way for me to remember everything I’ve read over decades and to try to compile a list. (There are books out there I recall snippets from and I really, really reallllly want to find and buy those books — but I can’t recall their titles! If every book ever published in English was available for full-text search on the Net, I might have a chance of finding them… You just have no idea the amount of brain- and Internet-dredging I had to do to finally find the works of Max Gunther! It was like forever.)
So when I say J. Michael Straczynski’s Becoming Superman is the most extraordinary book I’ve ever read, it should have some weight behind it, dammit.
It’s his autobiography. And it’s a chronicle of a life most people can never even imagine having to deal with, much less living through. He not only lived through it, he succeeded beyond all possibilities.
And it happened because he discovered a superpower he had. And what makes that discovery even more remarkable — hell, just about unbelievable! — is that it’s one he discovered on his own. No one had to tell him about it. These days, everyone talks about it but few even believe it. I have to emphasize that: Today it’s common knowledge. Yet he discovered it for himself. Hardly anyone ever does.
After the break, his superpower. The one everyone has.
The realization that I didn’t have to become my father was electrifying. Kazimier [his grandfather], Sophia [his grandmother], and Charles [his father] all believed that they were the inevitable product of their circumstances, that they had no choice other than to become what they were. But negating my father would allow me to decide what I wanted to do with my life. Suddenly I had a superpower so great that my father could never destroy it because it was outside his reach.
I had the power to choose, and the will to back it up.
And one can go far on that.
The most important aspect to negate was my family’s sense of victimization. Given my circumstances it would have been easy to feel like a victim, but that was the first step on the road to becoming what they had become. They believed that since they had been mistreated, they were entitled to do the same to others without being questioned or criticized. It’s not my fault that I’m like this, I am what I was made, I’m the victim here, so you have to put up with me.
To be a victim is to be forever frozen in amber by that person’s actions at that moment. Victimization only looks backward, never forward, which is why my family was incapable of moving on or redefining themselves. If I allowed myself to be defined by what my father did to me, it would put him at the center of my identity. He would have control over me for the rest of my life, even once he was gone. Yes, I was stuck in a box with a monster, but wallowing in indulgent self-pity wasn’t the solution; the task before me was to survive the monster without becoming the monster.
End of book excerpt.
What just about everyone says today: “I had the power to choose”
But what most everyone lacks: “… and the will to back it up.”
Everyone has the superpower to choose.