Sunday, April 5, 2015

JLA: Year One and Purpose

“Well, the rain exploded with a mighty crash
As we fell into the sun.
And the first one said
To the second one there,
‘I hope you’re having fun.’”

Paul McCartney – Band on the Run

JLA: Year One written by Mark Waid and drawn by Bryan Augustyn is a revisionist origin of the Justice League of America, featuring four of the original seven, Aquaman, the Flash, Green Lantern, and the Martian Manhunter.  This version adds the Black Canary, who in the original stories didn’t become a member for several years.  JLA: Year One also omits Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman as part of the membership.  The membership is incidental; what really matters here is the story.  The story is powerful, full of hope, pain, disappointment, struggle, defeat, and, ultimately, redemption and victory.
I’d like to think of JLA: Year One as an analogy for life.  It seems, at least, to be an analogy for my life.  In almost every area of my life, things, just a few weeks ago, looked, like the first chapter of JLA: Year One, promising, colorful, and in a clear direction.  Then difficulties set in.   In JLA: Year One, over 300 pages long, the heroes are constantly beset with difficulties. 
There are external difficulties, enemies to fight, a public to convince, and relationship and job difficulties in their personal lives.  But there are also internal difficulties.  The five super-heroes have to learn to trust themselves and each other.  There are mistakes, misunderstandings, and even seeming betrayals by one of the team members and by a representative of their financial benefactor.
There are points in the storyline where things seem absolutely hopeless. In fact, they are.  There are no alternatives – except one: Keep Going.
What does it really mean to keep going?  What it doesn’t mean is to ignore the peril or ignore the past.  It means to take a full assessment of the risks, to change where change is needed, but to not quit.
For a brief moment, I wanted to quit school.  In my online courses, I was strongly critiqued in, of all areas, my writing.  Besides feeling embarrassed, I felt incompetent as both a writer and a student.  Had I made a mistake entering the program?  Am I a bad writer?  Do I have any skills at all?  Am I a failure?  Have I done anything meaningful with my life?  The questions got scarier and darker, but through further conversation with and more feedback from my professor I was able to make course (no pun intended) corrections.  Will they be enough?  I won’t know until next week’s grades come out, but if not, I’ll Keep Going.

Again, sometimes there are no alternatives but to Keep Going.  But we have to know what it is we are going towards.  For me it’s a Master’s degree in history and life with my Muse.  Very little else matters.  Working towards those goals is the hardest thing I’ve done in a long time and I feel privileged to be able to do it.