We all experience trauma in our lives and at times we can fight very hard to forget and suppress the memory of those moments. But when we try to erase the past we often miss the lesson those traumatic events taught us.
Look back to the worst moments in your life and see if you can trace a line to the next stage of your development. Someone breaks up with you and you spiral into depression. And yet, because of that pain, you end up finding your true soulmate.
Losing a job, only to find a better one, or a new career path. It’s hard to see at the time, but those crises shaped your life and ushered you to the next plateau.
Aquaman had to learn about his heroic destiny the hard way, but maybe you don’t have to.
Stepping Out Onto Thin Air to See If You Can Fly
There are times in all our lives when we emerge from the metaphorical undergrowth to find a shaky, rope bridge over a dark chasm. It’s a common story element because it’s common in real life.
The only way to conquer the next challenge, reach the next pinnacle, is to cross that bridge. It would be nice if we could cross those bridges, learn the lessons of trauma, without being forced over. No bear chasing us. Not at gunpoint.
But if we’re honest, we might have to accept that a traumatic event is too often the only way we’ll be coaxed from our hiding spot…from safe, solid ground…from the comforting panic rooms in our minds.
Aquaman Taking That First Breath Underwater
Aquaman’s origin story provides an excellent example of how trauma can flush out our talents and gifts. And how, sometimes, there’s no other way to learn those tough lessons.
Aquaman is a superhero who can live underwater and reach the deepest chambers of the ocean. But he wasn’t always the King of the Seven Seas as you see him today. Arthur Curry (Aquaman’s above-water name) had a land-loving regular father and a mom from Atlantis.
He was raised by his father and didn’t know about his Atlantean ancestry at first. He discovered his powers of breathing underwater and the ability to text with fish in his youth.
But imagine how someone who could breathe underwater would have to learn of those powers. (If no one came out and told them). There’s one obvious way for fate to intervene and make Arthur Curry aware of his Aquaman powers.
YOU CAN TRY TO DROWN AQUAMAN.
Avoiding a Jump Into the Deep End
Can we really blame fate, or a god, or mother nature for taking drastic measures to steer us to where we need to be? To reveal our talents and abilities?
Many of us run for a bunker anytime there’s an obstacle in our way. We hide from challenges. Avoid new experiences. Shy away from meeting new people. Give up so easily.
What if you were a comic book deity in the DC Comics Universe and Aquaboy refused every hint that he might have aquatic-based superpowers? Perhaps he was even afraid of water. Aquaphobic.
If he won’t dip a toe in the water, how do you create an Aquaman? You might have to resort to staging an accident that forces him under the waves. Let him suffer that horrifying feeling of drowning. Take that first gulp to find that he can fill his lungs with water and abide.
It’s an unpleasant thought, but sometimes some hairy moments are necessary to create a member of the Justice League.
Now, are such extreme measures necessary to get you to seek another job, exit a toxic relationship, or to move to a new city? To move on?
Trauma’s Difficult But Necessary Lessons
What’s required to get you from point A to point B? Will you have to be tossed into the icy waves to find out you can swim? Will you have to be laid off, lose a spouse, or have a favorite security blanket stripped from you? Do circumstances have to get this bad before you’ll take a leap of faith?
We often resist change so strongly that we force fate to send us overboard. God must flood our bunkers to get us up and out of our safe and comfortable hidey-holes.
Or we must reach a point where we are so miserable that we are compelled to take action. We can put up with much that is unhealthy and damaging simply because we are afraid to embark on a new journey.
Don’t always wait to get to this point.
Every now and then, test the waters. Find out if you have a latent superpower you would have never discovered otherwise. You may have wings…or gills, or just the supernatural ability to write average web content.
I wrote another tome about finding your destiny while skipping the traumatic hero origin story. It’s about accepting a signpost in the forest, a trailhead, even when the path ahead is shrouded in fog. Check it out.