[dropcap]W[/dropcap]ith 600 miles from Calgary to Vancouver, I had more than enough time to reflect on the havoc running away from home had created. Watching the sunset from the back of my taxi to a crackling playlist of bhangra music, I sat quietly and wondered if home would be there when I arrived, and if I was even worthy of returning.
On the pages of a recently purchased graphic novel, the Dark Knight faced a fate not unlike my own. Lost in time, Bruce Wayne had thrust himself into an impossible situation for which success was seemingly unobtainable; much like myself, he too needed to find a way home but did not know the way.
Waiting for my plane to arrive, I read Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne to find escape in my time of greatest sorrow. But instead, I found something greater in the hero’s long trek back to Gotham: a path to redemption and forgiveness.
By the time I turned the final page, I had arrived in Vancouver. Both Batman and I had finished our journey in unison. We had been pushed to our brinks, but we had both grown stronger as a result of our venture, both finding a way home in the process.
Today, my Batman graphic novel sits upon a shelf with hundreds more like it. It’s commonly misconstrued as a miniscule sliver in an ever-growing collection of superhero merchandise, when it and other works have become so much more to me.
The world of superheroes is not just a fandom for me; it is a religion.
Whether it’s the friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man struggling to juggle his myriad responsibilities, the Green Lantern Corps pushed to their mental and physical limits, or simply the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen teetering on the edge of good and evil, there’s always been something for me to unpack in the world of capes and domino masks that helps me in my daily life. And every bit of it has been an integral part of making me the man I am today.
These tales, as tall and extravagant as they are, have offered me more poignant anecdotes and complex situations than I could’ve ever anticipated. Their persistence today has a worldwide effect not only on myself, but also on others who seek both guidance and redemption in their struggles.
Superheroes don’t just depict humanity’s strength, but also our potential. Superheroes challenge us to be the best we can be. They dare us to soar higher and to persevere even in the face of defeat. They inspire us to be the most heroic versions of ourselves.
And without them, I know I would be truly lost.
There are days when I wake up in the morning feeling paralyzed by the weight of my past failures to such a degree, I could swear that a kryptonite crystal was pressed against my chest. On those days, surrender feels too strong to resist. It feels inevitable.
But because of superheroes, I endure. Because of them, I fight through the pain and take one more step, even if it is agony. I learn to keep moving forward amidst fear, and always believe in the power of justice, hope, and love.
All you have to do is look just under the surface to find something you or anyone else can identify with. Although they may be just pencil and ink on splintered panels of paper, superheroes are always coming to my rescue and teaching me to believe in the most important element of the life-changing miracle machine: myself.