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Spiderman and the Hulk

I grew up with comic books around the house. There were the normal smattering of heroes in tight outfits spouting the famous, “You’ll never get away with it!” lines and loft of fantastic powers and fights. My little brother was the consumer of most of the comics. From a very early age, he took great pride in the protection of these treasures. My brother collected DC comics. I liked comics, too, but I liked the comic books by Stan Lee – the Marvel comics. I especially liked Spiderman and The Hulk.

I am a tall man – a little over 6.5 feet (just shy of 2 meters). Unlike other boys, I did not have a massive growing time in my teenage years. Instead, I started out young and grew consistently until around 18. As a result, I was always the tallest child in any of my classes, sometimes the tallest child in the school, and at least once I was the tallest person at the school. Like a lot of taller boys, I grew much faster than my coordination, so I was very lanky and clumsy. It was during these very clumsy times that I came to idolize Spiderman.

I imagined how great it would be to be like Peter Parker and over a short period of time, move from being the butt of the jokes, target for the bullies, and endless retriever of spilt books from the hallway, to self confident, dextrous, and strong. I would have gladly taken on the responsibility of a superhero in exchange for not being that kid anymore .

Obviously, I am not the comic superhero, so I became increasingly frustrated by my lot. This frustration would rear up only very rarely whilst a teenager. I had very healthy, and strenuous, activities through which I could channel these frustrations. Luckily, my family used wood to heat most of our home, so the actions of cutting, hauling, and splitting wood served to drain me of most of the frustrations, while granting me some strength and confidence in some skills.

After I left home to attend college and being removed from the need to cut wood, my activity level plummeted as my frustrations began to mount. During these frustrated moods, I began to identify with The Hulk. As I began my college career, I was still lanky and clumsy,with low self-confidence. Soon after arriving on campus, I was fortunate to find understanding friends and some activities to take the place of my at-home “exercise.”

It was during times of activity breaks, summer vacations, etc., the frustrations would mount again and I could easily identify with The Hulk and yearn for some ability to, like the comic hero, let the rage out and return to normal, drained and calm. During one of these summer breaks, I had a job managing a movie theatre. After a particularly frustrating week, I’d finish my work and after all the other employees had left, I would take a broom handle into the stock room and destroy the empty boxes there. I would emerge 30 – 60 minutes later, exhausted and calm, and return to my normal self.

I am older now. Gone is the desire to be Spiderman. The power and freedom would be wonderful, but that boy that felt so out of place in the world has grown into an intelligent and self-confident man. However, I still struggle with the frustrated beast, within, sometimes. Usually, I can walk it off, or release it by bitching at the traffic, but I also meditate and take St John’s Wort to help me in diffusing the frustration before it begins to bubble and boil.

I have a friend who is going through his own state of frustration now. He told me the other night that he feels comfortable talking with me about it because he can see that I understand. I don’t have to tell him stories or try to sympathize or empathize with him. He has seen his own hulk, and, like me, can recognize it in others.

If you have ever seen the beast peering back at you in the mirror from behind your eyes, you will know what I mean. He’s still in there, my hulk. I still see the beast sometimes, and if you look closely and know what to look for, maybe you can see it, too.

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