Dis Guy’s Disguise

I love the way that superheroes remain unrecognized, even by their nearest and dearest, despite nearly always having camouflaged getups as thin as a politician’s commitment. Glasses on a person who doesn’t usually wear glasses: so much coverage! A little mask with big eyeholes in it…yeah, that’ll fool Mom when she looks me straight in the face! At least in more of the fairytales there’s a serious enough literal transformation that I can believe it would confound a reasonable amount of investigative zeal. I mean, I can imagine that Beauty’s pal the Beast could conceivably be tough for most people to spot as his former princely persona, at least more so than a cape and a staggeringly revealing, body-conforming spandex super-suit would tend to do.Digital illo: Beastly Problem, That!

When I become a superhero, and, of course, I will, eventually—it kind of seems like few people on earth don’t at some point fall into a vat of toxic waste and vow revenge on those who allowed it to happen, if you read at all these days—I plan to be so well hidden in my new identity that even you people who have been meeting me here in Bloglandia for four-plus years won’t flinch. Meanwhile, you’ll probably be too distracted by the latest zombie apocalypse or alien invasion (also well documented in current entertaining literature and film) to notice I’ve changed anyhow.

More likely, though, is that the whole hidden-in-plain-sight thing is much closer to reality than I like to think. It’s amazing to consider how many large-looming realities I am capable of missing or simply convincing myself don’t exist because I’m too small-thinking to accept them as present. I don’t like to believe I was wrong, so I convince myself the other person is the one at fault. I don’t want to believe that someone I’ve liked and admired is terribly flawed, so I keep up the idealized image in my mind, pretending that he doesn’t have a detectable alcohol problem or she hasn’t been the obvious only person with access to the accounts that have consistently failed to remain in balance. Might as well be wearing neon signs that say Hey! Lookee here!! Big PROBLEM!!!, and wearing clown costumes.

I still like superhero stories and fabulations and fairytales. I enjoy them immensely. But there is a little part of me that always gets as grouchy as the Beast that they’re so patently improbable, what with all of the costumes that couldn’t fool a baby seeming to deceive the world at large for great lengths of time. Mostly because I know I can’t count myself in the baby’s camp when it comes to such discernment. Fool me twice—a thousand times—shame on me. Grrr!

Meeting the New Kid

Did you know that there are creatures you didn’t know you knew? Of course you knew it. After all, there’s the whole race of super-characters, multiple species like the Yeti and the Loch Ness Monster, Dracula and Tinkerbell, Wonder Woman and Wolverine peopling our universe, or at least some parallel ones, so we’re pretty well surrounded by fantastic fellow creatures if we’re willing and able to recognize them.
Digital illustration: Bumblesaurus

I think that perhaps part of the reason I’ve so long loved living so deeply in my imagination is that, having the social anxiety I’ve always dealt with when it comes to human-type people, I find I’m fond of fictional company and its many quirks and quizzical qualities. Not that I would necessarily be more masterful or even less shy in the midst of make-believe characters: I’m perfectly capable of being intimidated by the magnificence of pretend persons or frightened by the nastiness of the wicked ones just as easily as by real folk.

So you’ll forgive me if, despite his appearance of being slow-moving, benign, and perhaps a touch dim-witted yet perfectly friendly, I take my time getting to know the Bumblesaurus. He just wandered into the backyard when I wasn’t looking and made himself at home under a mulberry seedling. Yes, you got that right: he’s four centimeters long. Did I mention that I’m a nervous type? I mean, you only have to be the size of a flea to spread the plague all over Europe and kill off hordes of humans, right? I really do have to remind myself to give everyone, not least of all the Bumblesaurus, the benefit of the doubt. As they probably all do me.

Angels of Mercy

graphite line drawingThere are a lot of distinguishing features that we associate with Goodness, in the general sense of that construct. There are the usual ethical and even moral qualities we impute to a person or action or event in our humanist or religious ways: honesty, justice, kindness, compassion, hospitality, wisdom, patience and other such characteristics are almost universally recognized as positive and admirable. And while we can sometimes recognize these things in our fellow mortals, many of us find it easier to represent them in our minds’ eyes as some kind of super-beings that transcend human limitations, because it’s hard to imagine much of this happening or being sustainable in the hands or lives of mere people.

So we have our superheroes and our faeries, our special agents and goddesses, avatars and angels. But we’re still either too limited in our mental vocabularies or perhaps simply a little bit too insecure and egocentric to imagine or depict much that is Good without giving it a recognizable hint or ten of humanness. We make our gods in our own image, unable to picture them as truly different enough from ourselves to be genuinely Other and unique. We need to feel a concrete connection if we’re to make any sense of our own ideals.

And there’s nothing wrong with that, to my mind. How can I talk about the sweetness of a ripe pear with someone who has no sense of smell or taste? What it feels like to stand mid-stream in an icy creek with someone who has no legs or is a lifelong quadriplegic? How could I hope to discuss a complex topic with a deaf person from another country? We have to have some little commonalities, at least ones that we perceive as such, for us to have any kind of relationship, including the philosophical or emotional or spiritual.

So we, thankfully, have our Helpers, our unseen supporters and caretakers and watchers and guides, and we give them features that help us to understand and trust them. The other day when I was drawing I was thinking of a friend who, as I write this, is undergoing cancer treatment. Many friends and relatives and acquaintances have done so in times past, and many will yet again, and I think of them in their times of need and send, in my own way, my love and hope and concern, but most of them cannot use anything tangible that I have to offer. I think for cancer patients, my versions of angels would most certainly be beautifully smooth-headed creatures.

I am no surgeon, healer, scientist, caregiver or therapist of any sort. If you live close enough you might get some homemade chicken soup from me, or an armful of flowers from my home meadow, or a little note, but I have no cure to offer, have not even enough encouraging wisdom of my own to get you through the day better. What I do have is my own vision of what I would hope to have at my bedside or hovering around me as I tread any dangerous paths, a sort of gracious, singing, laughing and–when I need a modest and quiet companion who understands the sorrow of it all–gently embracing angel of mercy. And my particular versions of such beings work in force, and also make house calls, so I will gladly send regiments of them in all their shining, vaguely human, terribly purposeful Goodness to watch over all.digital illustration