It is the false shame of fools to try to conceal wounds that have not healed. (Horace)
The first thing I ever wanted to be was an action hero. I would pretend to be Johnny Cage, or Christopher Chance, or one of the X-Men, or a Power Ranger, and try to run in the front yard as I arrested the bad guy or fought the monster or used my invisible superpower to save the world.
I did all this knowing that I’d never get to be the hero. Not me, with my legs that didn’t work right, and the way I was almost always out of breath, and how I was short and small and well, me. Real action heroes didn’t have trouble standing up, and they were taller than five feet and certainly had more muscle than my little ninety-odd pound frame. I was pretty much everything an action hero shouldn’t be.
But even despite that, I never quite lost the desire to step into that role. I love the emotion of it – the adrenaline rush of being in the heat of the moment and really having to see what you’re made of. I relish the idea of doing something bigger than myself, of standing for something. And it’s just fun, too, to pick up the handgun or strap on the helmet and run around just throwing your all into that moment. It’s a crazy kind of rush, and every time I get the chance to even sort of pretend at it, I come alive.
It’s why I loved working on Human Target, why I’ve spent nights with my nose stuck in a Chris Ryan novel, why I kept yelling at my XBox all the way through Hitman: Absolution (and yes, I even loved the movie too, and I don’t care that even Timothy Olyphant didn’t). They never called me up on Human Target and asked me to fill in for Mark Valley, but even being a part of those projects is so much fun because it’s still in that world. I was still talking to the guy that played Christopher Chance (and, can I say, did a much better job than I did when I was ten).
Yet I’ve still never gotten to play the hero, and I honestly don’t think I ever will.
People don’t offer that opportunity to the handicapped kid, and even if you take that out of the equation, they’re not looking for the girl who most action heroes could break over their knee. I don’t have the physical presence that’s required. And now I’ve got three big metal pieces in my left leg and a knee that’s never been the same since they pulled the pin out of it. My childhood dream is almost the exact opposite of the hand I’ve been dealt in life.
So why did I break down and cry yesterday when I thought I had it in my hands and I lost it? Why do I keep holding out for something that I know, in all logical sense, will never materialize?
Maybe because that archetype is the perfect storm of everything that matters to me. It’s getting to make a difference in the world, wrapped in having to push myself to my absolute limit, and getting to do something fantastic. The story of a hero is amazing, and it’s tough, and it’s emotional, and it matters. I adore writing for heroes – coming up with stories of characters who work hard, and fight harder, and get to save the day. Even though I know what’s going to happen, I enjoy going on that journey with them, writing those moments when the bad guys lose and the good guys win. I just would love, for once, to be the story, rather than the person who watches it unfold and writes about it later.
But I’m almost 30. And I’m still handicapped. And I’m not getting any taller or stronger. And the people I’d want to see standing beside me aren’t going to be there very much longer. So I just don’t see that ever coming together, and I think that finally just dawned on me yesterday.
This is going to be a wound that’s not going to heal. And I’m going to have to be okay with that.
Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox