What I Didn’t Learn About Life from Reading Comic Books

When I was a kid, I used to love getting lost in the world of comics. Every Saturday morning, I would rush to the store to spend what little money I had on these short, exciting stories full of action. And years later, I’m still rushing.

Comic books
Photo Credit: Joelk75 via Compfight cc

For the adolescent reader in a world full of distractions, comic books are the perfect diversion, but they don’t always paint the most accurate picture of reality.

As great as they are, comics give us a warped, incomplete view of life. As much as Batman inspires us or Superman encourages us to be brave, our lives look little like those small, illustrated panels.

No, our lives happen somewhere in between.

When life slows down

I always hoped my life might look a little more like a comic book than it did — plus or minus any mutant abilities (that would be a bonus). But as I’ve grown up, I’ve started to see how silly that actually is.

In the movie Super, a crude film about superheroes, the protagonist Frank is sitting with his self-appointed sidekick, Libby, and they’re waiting in vain for something to happen. For an opportunity to fight evil. For the police sirens to start. For or something significant to happen.

But nothing does. So they sit in boredom, wondering what to do.

Frank: Maybe you need to be bored sometimes.
Libby: You don’t see them bored in comic books.
Frank: That’s what happens in between the panels.
Libby: Wow, in between the panels! Is that where we are right now?

As I watched the film, I thought: “Yes, this is where we spend our lives—in between the panels.”

We all want a life that that looks more like the stories we read in books or watch on the big screen. But real life doesn’t often feel like an adventure. In fact, it can seem rather boring. And as hard as we try to make it more interesting, we are still stuck with the frequent, less-than-remarkable moments.

What, then, do we do with those?

Here’s good news…

This is not the end of the tale. We are not left to live lives of insignificance and mediocrity. But life does slow down; inconveniences do occur; and delays happen to the best of us.

The challenge is what we do with these times. Will we waste, or learn to use, our waiting?

The slower times contain a wealth of wisdom for us to tap into, but only when we recognize them. Otherwise, we can grown detached from reality and end up living a fantasy, looking for every chance to escape reality.

This is why we fight the quiet and try to fill the void of inactivity with busyness. It’s why we sometimes stay up late or can’t sleep. We wonder — and worry — if this is all life has to offer.

All the while, we miss the truth: The thing we want to escape is what holds the key to our contentment.

What if…?

What if, instead of pining for the action of the next frame, we surrendered to the wait, learning to live in those “boring” moments with more intentionality?

What if we fell in love with the in-between times, relishing instead of resenting them?

Well, then, we might just find the satisfaction we’ve been searching for. Even in the mundane moments.

Especially then.

This was an adapted excerpt from my new book, The In-Between. If you order the book by 11:59 p.m., Aug. 10, 2013, you’ll automatically get $240 worth of free bonuses. Find out more here.

How does your life look — in between frames? Share in the comments.