There’s a Christopher Nolan Batman marathon playing on Spike TV right now. I don’t care to discuss who the best Batman is (Keaton), but I think bringing up how much the idea of Batman pisses me off.
Bruce Wayne suffered a great loss, of course. He had to grow up fast and find a purpose. I’m not going to be nice about it, but he was a privileged little shit. He was a billionaire who found catharsis in beating people.
His pain led to more contention. Meaningless pests like car thieves, bank robbers, and petty drug dealers thought the Batman was a bigger challenge to rise to. He spawned evils like the Penguin, the Riddler, and ultimately, the Joker. Their battles are endless and legendary.
I’m not Batman, much to my boys’ chagrin. I’m not rich. I’m not privileged. My parents are wonderfully alive. However, I’ve experienced a loss that I can never recover from. I lost my soul in Baghdad.
My search for a purpose in life has created evils of my own, but I’m not a billionaire with the money or technology to sate my pain. If I go out and feed a junkie the concrete curb, I’ll go to jail. I don’t have a secret identity or the assassin skills to evade police or my enemies. I sure as hell don’t want to create my own Joker.
Instead, I’m trying to hold on to the only things I have left that are good. I can put on a mask, but it suffocates me. I can’t play normal without slipping further into abnormality. I WILL be depressed. I WILL have anxiety attacks. I WILL wear my heart on my sleeve.
This is me. If I were a superhero, I’d use the name Penance, if it weren’t already taken by the former Marvel hero Speedball.