The finer points of Kryptonite

I’ve been thinking about Superman.

After my first cup of coffee I made the bed. I felt good. I felt powerful. “Coffee is my Superman cape,” I thought to myself. Then I corrected that because Superman isn’t strong because of his cape. He’s strong because he’s an alien living on Earth. As I understand it (and please forgive me, comics fans, if I got it wrong) Superman is super strong here because of the particular mix of atmosphere here on planet Earth. Back on Krypton he’s just an average Joe.

Nobody flies or lifts cars off of people on Krypton.

So after scratching my superman cape/coffee connection whilst making the bed I thought, “maybe instead it’s that mornings are my kryptonite.” But that’s not quite right either. I mean, I’m groggy in the morning but certainly mornings won’t kill me, no matter what my hyperbolic Facebook statuses might say.

And of course that got me to thinking all kinds of interesting things about Kryptonite and Superman and coffee addictions and making the bed.

Kryptonite is home. It’s that little bit of home that affects Superman so badly. The thing about Kryptonite that  I remembered this morning is that it doesn’t kill Superman, at least I don’t think it does. It just makes him weak, but weak like the rest of us. It brings him back to average Joe status and I suppose it looks so painful because after being super strong and able to fly all that time, being reduced to just being average would feel pretty painful to anyone.

That piece of home makes Superman vulnerable.

And that revelation got me to thinking about my own home, my own history, my own story because that’s what I do. I think about the connections like that and then I write it down here. Home is our Kryptonite, it’s everyone’s Kryptonite. Home and the reminders of home make us vulnerable, sometimes in good ways, sometimes in not so good ways but it exposes us to ourselves, to our past, to our loved ones.

Home is our Kryptonite.

Home makes us human.

And the truth is, it can be painful or humbling to be reminded that we’re human after all.


6 thoughts on “The finer points of Kryptonite

  1. Superman trivia:

    Depending on which era one started reading (or watching) Superman in, the origin of his powers changed. The stories range from Kryptonians simply being more evolved than humans to Krypton having heavier gravity to the yellow rays of our sun having a different effect than Krypton’s older red sun. Superman’s powers varied as well. Originally he was stronger than a human and could leap over tall buildings but couldn’t fly and could be hurt by heavy artillery. But in some comics, he can withstand nuclear blasts and fly across the galaxy.

    Like Superman’s super powers, the effects of kryptonite have changed over time depending on whether you’re talking about golden age, silver age, or modern Superman, The original kryptonite was red and only weakened Superman. What used to be red kryptonite is now green kryptonite and works in stages depending on the length of exposure. First he loses his super powers. If he continues to be exposed, then he gets sick. And, finally, if exposed long enough he will die. Moreover, kryptonite comes in many forms (red, black, gold, etc.) and each kind has a subtly different effect. For example, black kryptonite splits Kryptonians into two beings, one good and one evil. There’s also a pink kryptonite that turns kryptonians gay.

  2. This meditation has had me thinking for a while. On a superficial level, I think I get it. When I’ve been away from my mom (or my sister) for an extended period of time, I tend to be who I am in my own right. When I visit and spend time with old family (or old friends for that matter) the person who I was tends to come to the surface and I fall into old patterns of behavior, some good and some not so good. So in some ways, I can see the analogy of home being our kryptonite. It takes us back to who we were.

    But there is a quote by Berdyaev that I love, “Every single human soul has more meaning and value than the whole of history.” In some ways, going home should be the process of reverting to who we are as individuals made in the image of the Creator. Rather than making us into normal every day joes, This return homeward completes our humanity with the divinity of the God-made-Man Jesus Christ. And how odd that it is not ONLY a return home. But is also a journey to something new.

    So in the end, I don’t think that I’m entirely comfortable thinking of my home as my kryptonite.

    I think Batman might be a better analogy. Then coffee could be your utility belt.

    • I’m going to have to ponder that Batman/utility belt analogy…I may need a couple more cups of coffee. Belts have never been my thing but I’m willing to revisit it if I can have access to the Batmobile somehow…and the Batcave, I like the Batcave.

  3. “Another insight [from Werner Erhard] is in the statement, ‘The context is decisive.’ This means that the way we function is powerfully impacted by our worldview, or the way, in his language, “the world shows up for us.” Nothing in our doing or the way we go through life will shift until we can question, and then choose once again, the basic set of beliefs — some call it mental models; we’re calling it context here — that lie behind our actions. Quoting Werner, ‘Contexts are constituted in language, so we do have something to say about the contexts that limit and shape our actions.’

    Implied in this insight is that we have a choice over the context within which we live… The way this happens (made too simple here) is by changing our relationship with our past. We do this by realizing, through a process of reflection and rethinking, how we have not completed our past and unintentionally keep bringing it into the future. The shift happens when we pay close attention to the constraints of our listening and accept the fact that our stories are our limitation. This ultimately creates an opening for a new future to occur.

    Changing our relationship with our past leads to another aspect of language that Werner has carefully developed…’possibility.’ Possibility, here, is a declaration, a declaration of what we create in the world each time we show up. It is a condition, or value, that we want to occur in the world, such as peace, inclusion, relatedness, reconciliation. A possibility is brought into being in the act of declaring it.

    For example, peace may not reign at this moment,but the possibility of peace does enter the room just because we have walked in the door. Peace here is a future not dependent on achievement; it is a possibility. The possibility is created by our declaration, and then, thankfully, it begins to work on us. The breakthrough is that we become that possibility, and this is what is transforming. The catch is that possibility can work on us only when we have come to terms with our story. Whatever we hold as our story, which is our version of the past, and from which we take our identity, becomes the limitation to living into a new possibility.”

    — Peter Block, describing the sources of his thought (and incidentally describing the existential structure of Superman stories), in the opening chapter of “Community: The Structure of Belonging.”

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