Heads or Tails

Allow me to “geek out” for a minute.

No, I don’t have a comic book collection. I DO love my MacBook.  And I love the Batman movies. But really only the Christopher Nolan trilogy.

Maybe that makes me more of a semi-nerd?

At any rate, I really loved Nolan’s take on Batman – if you’ve watched any of his other films, they pretty much all have this tinge of darkness. Batman became more than just a figure leaping around with colorful balloons announcing every fight with a “POW” or “BAM”!

He became a man, and the evils he dealt with–with some artistic license—were real people.

Sure, it’s easy to put the monsters away at night when they’re not real. But, it’s a lot harder to put your mind at ease when you understand that our greatest enemy is usually each other – and sometimes, ourselves.

Ironically, in the Dark Knight, one such enemy was Harvey Dent. His transformation from good to “evil” was quite literal as he became Harvey Two-Face. Now, if you’re not a big Batman fan or haven’t seen the Dark Knight, bear with me here. I do have a point.

You see, Dent worked to pursue the “bad guy” for most of the movie, until he and his love, Rachel (I’ll spare you the other geeky details) were captured by the Joker’s henchman and taken to two separate buildings, each filled with oil and an explosive device set to explode in a matter of minutes.

The Joker’s idea was to make Batman choose between love (Rachel) and the goodness that Dent represented for the city at the time – the hope of a new beginning and a life without crime (or at least, less) in Gotham. The Joker was certain that Batman would follow his heart over his brain.

But, he didn’t. And Dent was rescued, but not before he suffered from serious burns to his face (really, how was he still alive? Anyone?).

The former “white knight” of Gotham became an embittered, vindictive man instead. He didn’t understand why he had to live and Rachel didn’t, and he was suffering – the “greater good” was lost on him in the face of his own loss. And so, he sought to make other people suffer.

During a life changing tragedy, we are all faced with a choice. Dent chose to act out the anger and suffering he felt at his injury and his loss by opting to take vengeance on others he felt were responsible. And of course, I am talking about a movie here. But to Dent, there was only one choice, one path on which to proceed.

Any time we endure a life changing event such as a serious injury or a loss, as I wrote about before, we face a choice. No, I don’t mean to imply that choice is simple and easy, but in reality, it’s true – we face a choice between moving on and making the best of what we have or allowing ourselves to become angry and mired in bitterness. Again, I’m not saying that choosing to move on automatically means you will no longer feel angry that this happened to you or that the path won’t be tough. But, we do have a choice in how we approach things going forward.

I always tend to relate these topics back to my own loss (both in my injury and my father), because that’s personal to me. I strongly believe we always, always have a choice in how we proceed with things. Even then, we don’t always choose the right path, but it’s there, and we always have a chance to get back on it.

Choosing to go forward and accept what has happened (whatever that may be) requires a degree of resilience, and some people have more than others. Yet, it also requires support. Resilience is vital, yes, but I don’t believe that the majority of people want to end up feeling angry and bitter for the rest of their lives. Maybe they just lack the resources and support to know how to best move forward. Or it’s possible they just don’t know how to access them.

Recovering and moving on from a loss, an injury, a disability or other life-changing event requires work. We can’t just make the choice to be free of our feelings, gather them up and release the tether like a balloon. But we can learn how to slowly deflate it. What are we doing to ensure that others have the same tools?

This blog is my balloon – every time I post, I release a few more through my words. And that’s helpful for me to process everything has happened to me. And I hope in some way, it’s helpful for others. I’ll never be a superhero, but that’s okay. I’ll make my own luck.

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