The Thing I Like About …

Agents of Shield’s Inhumans: the trade-off.

In Marvel’s Agents of Shield, the Inhumans have a variety of super-powers. Some can control electricity, others can create seismic activity, or fire, or floods, or freezing. Gordon can teleport, functionally existing in two places at once. Raina can see the future. The group’s leader can heal herself to the point that she’s basically immortal. And these are just some of their gifts.

But Gordon has no eyes. His face is a mouth and nose and giant forehead. Raina is covered with porcupine quills that make physical contact all but impossible, and she has horrifying dreams that show her things she doesn’t want to see. All of the Inhumans are ostracized for their talents – either because others are afraid of them and have shunned them, or because the Inhumans have hidden their true selves out of fear of others’ fear. Seismic blasts? – controlled by hiding the energy inside, and breaking your own arms. Not easy choices. Not an easy life.

But if you’re willing to let go of your physical eyes, then you get to teleport and be in two places at once. You get to see the universe in a way that others don’t. You get to do things that others can’t. If you’re willing to let go of the eyes that see only in three dimensions, then you can go into other dimensions, and transcend this ordinary life.

If you’re willing to sleep with porcupine quills, then you can see the future … and become a beacon of guidance and hope for those you love.

If you’re willing to be different – to be vulnerable – then you can be amazing. You can be and do and offer so many things that ordinary folks just can’t do.

Many recent super-hero stories revolve around the “man/woman underneath the costume” – the “real” person who has a host of problems and maudlin emotions and who really isn’t any different than other human beings. But super-heroes aren’t like other human beings … and that’s okay. They still have feelings and problems. We all do. The ones who lose their feelings and problems are … well … super-villains.

If we want to be super-heroes, then we have to make the trade-off; it’s not a “bad” thing. It’s just a thing. It’s just the way it is.

To go beyond our current confines – to grow and change and evolve – we have to be willing to let go of things that define who and where we are now. We don’t necessarily get to pick which things we give up, or which gifts and transformations we’ll receive. But if we want to go forward, we have to go. We have to let go. We have to make the trade.

If we do, then we have the chance to become something extraordinary – something so amazing that we wouldn’t even recognize ourselves.

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