"The Incredibles" is one of my family's favorite movies. It's got a great story, terrific visuals, funny lines. It's also got three awesome messages subtly woven throughout, rather than being preached at you: 1) Not only is it okay to be different, but your differences are what make you valuable; 2) No matter how strong you are in one area, sometimes you're going to need someone else's strength; and 3)When we work together, we can do anything.
One of my favorite characters in the movie gets two short scenes, about thirty total seconds of screen time. It's the little boy who lives across the street from the Parrs (the Incredibles' secret suburban identity, in case you've never seen the movie). The Parrs and all their other super counterparts are in hiding after the tide of public opinion has turned against superheroes. They're supposed to be acting just like regular people. Having to hide who they are is taking a toll, especially on Mr. Incredible, who misses hero work so much he sneaks out to do it under the guise of going bowling.
This little kid is on to Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible, though. He knows there's something different about him, even if he doesn't know exactly what, and he's keeping an eye peeled. One day Bob catches him watching and almost snarls at the kid, "What are you waiting for?" The kid looks back, all innocence, and says, " Something amazing, I guess." Bob, fresh from his dreary job at a monolithic insurance agency says, "Me too, kid," before turning, deflated, to go in the house.
That's a little bit how it is around here these days. I blog and write on the downstairs computer. My husband networks and applies for jobs on the upstairs one. We have lunch together and go for a walk. We go back to our screens. The kids come home, we listen to their daily adventures and woes. We make dinner and do homework. We might watch a little TV. We go to sleep. The next day we do it again.
We hope and believe that something good is coming, but we don't know exactly what, or when. Occasionally it occurs to me that maybe something good won't come, that we'll chug along, depleting our resources, until something really bad happens. Most of the time I don't feel that way. But sometimes I do, and I understand how Bob Parr feels. He has something special, but he thinks nobody wants it. He's starting to question whether it even is special. Whether he is. He's slogging through the days, wondering if anything will ever change, with increasing doubt that it will.
Then, an opportunity comes. It looks too good to be true, a chance to resume his hero work, to be appreciated and rewarded for his true self. Of course, it is too good to be true. It's a trap laid by an enemy, and he wouldn't have survived it without his quirky family's help. They manage to escape, but Syndrome, the bad guy, pursues them. When they finally vanquish him, they're outside in their driveway. A huge fireball of an explosion overhead signals Syndrome's destruction. It's silent for a moment. And then, from the driveway across the street, a triumphant shout.
The little kid across the street has finally gotten his payoff. Bob may have been on the verge of giving up, but the kid didn't. He knew if he kept watching, and waiting, he was going to get his something amazing.
That's why we keep doing what we're doing, even on the days it feels like hell, like it will always feel like hell. So that when a job offer comes, or a book gets published, we can stare at each other, dumbfounded for a moment. Then we'll shout, like the little kid who never gave up hope, "That was totally wicked!"