You keep Jesus, I’ll take Hal Jordan

So. I got the job that I talked about in a recent post, the one working at Ritsumeikan High School in Uji. And I don’t mind telling you that I had myself tied up in some pretty entertaining knots over this. It got to the point where I’d flinch when new email came in because I was sure it was either an offer or a rejection, and I didn’t know which was scarier.

That’s no way to go through life, so I decided to do something about it. Enter the Green Lanterns.

In the DC Universe, the Green Lanterns are a kind of space police, armed with a power ring that is able to project a green energy field that responds to the user’s willpower and imagination. It’s a hell of a thing, very possibly the most powerful weapon in the universe, and I can honestly say it’s probably best for everyone that mine doesn’t actually work.

Not just anyone can be a Green Lantern, though. There’s a very special quality that is required of a potential Lantern.

In order to master the power ring, the Lantern has to master their fear. If they cannot do that, they will never be able to successfully wield the ring and take their place among the protectors of the cosmos. It used to be that a Green Lantern had to be without fear entirely, but later and more worldly writers realized that such a quality would be more of a detriment than a benefit. Fear is necessary to our lives – it keeps us honest and, often, alive. Without fear, we are less than animals, because even they know well enough what to be afraid of.

What makes a Lantern, then, is the ability to overcome it. Later in the comic, Dr. Natu finds the corpse of another Lantern and repeats to herself, “I am not afraid.” But that’s clearly a lie – she is. What eventually cements her to the Green Lantern Corps is not that she is unafraid, but that she can overcome the fear that threatens to make her give up her new calling. She chooses not to let her fear rule her, and in doing so becomes something greater than herself.

Anxiety about starting a new job is hardly fear on the level that is traditionally depicted in Green Lantern comic books. That kind of danger is cosmic in scale and very often fatal. But it was pretty damn real to me. Every time I considered the possible future ahead of me, my gut would clench and that little whispery voice in the back of my head would start its litany of all the ways that I would probably fail. What was I, anyway? A NOVA teacher? Assuming that I could handle real academics? And teenagers no less? From day one I would be overwhelmed, beaten and humiliated, and all I would be able to do was crawl back to my eikaiwa job in ignominy.

To that, I would finger the ring I was wearing and say to myself, “You have the ability to overcome great fear.”

And I did.

So here’s to the future. I start my new job on April 14th, provided I get all the necessary paperwork done before I leave for Spain. It’ll be a challenge, and I’ll no doubt make mistakes. But when I was offered the job, I said “Yes” without hesitation, and I must always remember that.

It’s not re-igniting the sun or saving the universe or doing battle against a living planet with a mad desire to kill me. But I had fear and I overcame it.

Let’s go.

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