Tuesday, September 1, 2009

On becoming Batman


There is something somehow universal about Batman as a superhero. My theory on it (and there are many like it, but this one is mine) is that we feel like any one of us has the power to become Batman if we wanted to. Because he does not have any super powers beyond just being fabulously wealthy, it seems like any of us could be Batman if we wanted to. Nothing radioactive involved, no secret military experiments, just having his family murdered in cold blood and then spending ten years training to be a ninja.

So, if you want to be a superhero vigilante like Batman, what you need to do is spend three hours a day studying martial arts, and on your weekends, study how to be a detective. If you are wealthy enough not to have to work, you have the added luxury of not having to hold down a job at the same time, and then you can devote twice as much time each day to becoming the goddamn Batman. You'll be in decent fighting shape in two or three years, and at your peak in ten years.

If you are still a teenager, get started right now! If you are in your 20s or older, it is probably too late for you. In ten years, your body will be past its peak. You wanted to be Batman when you were a kid, but there was something else more interesting than that, and you did that instead.

This means that there is something you are already good at, and your time would be better spent developing that. That is how these things usually work. "Nobel Laureate Hubert Smartypants first became interested in science when he was six years old and started playing with the chemicals he found under the sink." It is the rare biography that says, "After working as a lawyer he decided he actually wanted to study solid state physics, earning his PhD at the age of 45. His inventions are now found in every electronic device manufactured."

Which is not to say that a midlife career change is a bad idea. It's just that the person who does that kind of thing usually has wanted to do it for a very long time, and then suddenly said to themselves, "I never really wanted to do this, you know. I wanted to be... a lumberjack!" (Or whatever.) And so it's better to start being a lumberjack or a physicist or Batman as soon as it's possible. Then you spend your years thinking of how much you love your job instead of how much you'd rather be doing something else.

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