“Man of Steel” is a visually rich but emotionally devoid popcorn movie where the popcorn’s aftertaste still remains in your mouth after you have watched it. The movie does not leave any taste or impression of its own. Probably it is doing its finest work as a mindless flick and giving our life back to us intact after 2 hours. Probably it is a finest example of the limitation of a blockbuster movie: Despite having influential and powerful protagonists, it does not have real power to influence our life. Whichever the case, the more apt title should have been “Nowhere Man.”
There is one scene that did leave an impression on me. The young Clark Kent, haunted by his ability to sense everything around him because of his unstoppable X-ray vision and sharp ear, shuts himself up inside a storeroom amid classmates’ ridicules. His mother comes for rescue.
Clark Kent: The world’s too big, mom.
Martha Kent: Then make it small. Focus on my voice. Pretend it’s an island in the ocean. Can you see it?
Clark brings himself back into perspective slowly by focusing on his mother’s voice. On the way, he learns how to control his uncontrollable ability.
(I wish the movie stayed this way. This trailer delivers that one thing the movie couldn’t: goose bumps.)
Coming back into the real world, I see the scene makes perfect sense for us human beings too. Dozens of thoughts and emotions run around inside ourselves at any moment, and we too are caught up in this hopeless Catch-22 situation: the harder we try to suppress them, the louder they become.
That is because we confuse “focus” and “attention” too easily. What we do instantly in order to focus on a particular subject backfires because we start by trying to remove unnecessary thoughts, which can only be done by paying attention to them. When it does not work out, we try to shut them off, again, by paying attention to them.
The real path to focus is to focus—on what we want, not what we don’t want. We need to think of what is important for us and concentrate on it.
Sometimes we try to eliminate what we don’t want at all. If it does not exist at all, wouldn’t be that easy? But that causes even more negative results than paying too much (or too little) attention, because the neglected emotions/thoughts always grow uncontrollably in the shadow, being still a vital part of who we are. Sooner or later they rise onto the surface with unimaginable amount of power to crush everything we have built.
We do need to acknowledge everything first. There is no way we can stay mentally healthy by pretending that our thoughts/feeling do not exist. If we learn to control them, they will even give us proper power just like…I have started to regret what I am going to say but it is too late…Clark Kent controlled his ability and became the Man of Steel. (Now it sounds incredibly dumb—hopefully this is my last effort to hitch on a popcorn cultural event to promote my own agenda. It is just lame.)