The Incredibles is coming! I don’t know if it will be a fraction as good as the original, but I’m going to give Brad Bird the benefit of the doubt, and get excited. Why? Because when Pixar is at their best, they have a WISDOM in their storytelling that gives an emotional foundation to otherwise “trivial” stories that raises them very high indeed.
INCREDIBLES is the story of a man, Bob Parr, who is secretly Mr. Incredible, a superhero. OR, it is the story of a superhero, Mr. Incredible, who has a mild-mannered alter-ego: a family man working at an insurance company.
OR: it is the story of an extraordinary family who must pretend to be ordinary to survive.
OR: it is the story of ordinary people who feel something extraordinary within them, and crave to let it out.
OR: it is the story of Helen Parr, who feels that the passion and purpose of her marriage is slipping away, the meaning of her life with it, as her husband so pines for the “glory days” of his life that he cannot engage with the extraordinary adventure of his actual family.
OR: It is the story of Elastigirl, one of the most powerful superheroes in the world, who was “running with the big dogs” and stepped out of her costume to find love and raise children, who feels her girlhood slipping away, the sense of lost opportunities overwhelming her with “ordinary-ness”…
In other words, INCREDIBLES was the story of all of us who have made choices and wondered about the roads not taken. All of us who feel that our “insides” don’t match our “outsides”.
The Heroes in this story are bound by love, who took on adult responsibilities (Helen and Bob) or are facing the beginnings of sexual stirrings (Violet) that will take her to making the same decisions every other generation has made, or the feeling (Dash) that he cannot be himself and be safe in the world.
They don’t know me. They don’t see me. They don’t appreciate me. I cannot be myself.
But these are the heroes, and their love for each other saves them.
Contrast with the villain, Buddy. No, his problem isn’t his costume (“No Capes!”). From his position, INCREDIBLES is an amazing tragedy.
He is the Man-Boy, in visual design as well as psychology. The child who cannot, WILL not grow up.
As a boy, he worshipped “Mr. Incredible” and was rebuffed in an attempt to become his ward (Incrediboy!). And…NEVER GOT OVER IT.
Not when he became a Lex Luthor-level genius. Not when he became Bill Gates rich. Not when he created tools that could have made him the most powerful “Super” of all.
He never developed the “adult” part of his personality, capable of nurturing the wounded “child” part, and sought power through destroying others, sex instead of love, building machines and hiring stooges instead of building a family.
And when he ultimately fails with his dreams of becoming a Super (becoming his role model/father figure) he decides to replace Bob Parr as the father of Jack-Jack. Which led to his downfall.
Get this? Not the only way of looking at the story, but a useful one. Bob Parr almost fails his task, but his love and core decency allows him to escape the traps of sex and ego to become the man his family needs him to be. (And if the sequel can choreograph as skillful an arc for Helen, it will be fantastic).
Buddy fails the “leap of faith” to become an adult, causes destruction in the world, and is destroyed by his own hubris. “I’ll get your son!” (“I’ll replace you!”) Ummm…no.
There are few things sadder than watching people whose sense of inside/outside, child/adult are not balanced. They drag themselves from one disaster to the next, always claiming the world is abusing them, because they are secretly terrified to look in the mirror, afraid that if they looked deeply they would see something horrible.
It is hard. We don’t have permission to just love ourselves. It is permissible to accept the cheers of the crowd, but if we simply love the child within us, cherish our own hearts?
- People who don’t have this will be intimidated. They will think you think yourself above them. No. You just don’t think that they, or anyone, are above YOU. Very different things.
- They lose the ability to manipulate you. You are not co-dependent. They will attack, out of their own fear and need and lack of belief in their own real agency.
- The world looks different to people who love themselves. Your very existence will threaten them. It says there is another way to be, to live. If you are right, they are very very wrong…and that triggers pain and fear.
- The way out is to love yourself. Heartbeat Meditation, the Ancient Child and other similar approaches are great for this. Integrate them with the daily work of the Morning Ritual.
M.A.G.I.C.: Magic= Action X Gratitude X Intention X Conviction
Gratitude: be grateful for the people who love you, as well as all the things that little kid inside you learned to do that helped you become who you are: read, write, walk, talk, dance, live, love.
Intention: Clearly state your commitment to accomplishing things that will make YOU happy.
Action: And clearly define what you can do TODAY to make them come true.
Conviction: Clear statement in belief that you CAN and SHOULD take these steps.
Love is so powerful. It is healing, nurturing, energizing. If we don’t love ourselves, how can we believe that we are worthy of the love of others? We must either reject it, or tear them down (Groucho’s “I wouldn’t belong to any club that would have me as a member”)
When we learn to love forgive ourselves for past mistakes, and to embrace our potential for the future we gain the greatest gift of all: the present moment. Bob Parr almost missed his greatest adventure: his family
Love saved him. You might have to save yourself, but you can, if you believe in the Superhero within.
And remember…no capes!
Be the hero in the adventure of your lifetime!