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"Choosing a Nemesis" mind matters
November 11, 2002
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Why are superheroes the only people with arch-enemies?

We spend much of our lives nurturing our supporters. We want cheerleaders, encouragers. But wouldn't it be cool to have an arch-enemy?

Years ago I played a game in which you invented a superhero. For each superpower you want, you'd also get a weakness. Want x-ray vision? Then suffer a gross eye disfigurement. Wish you could fly? Then hibernate six hours daily. In your rush to grow stronger, you'd give yourself everything from mortal allergies to brain damage.

But in this game, the ultimate, most horrible thing you could have was a nemesis.

See, a nemesis is your worst enemy. He's the guy who burned down your childhood home, drowned your fiancÚ, and irradiated your cat Snuffy. Superman has Lex Luthor. Batman has the Joker. He's responsible for all your serious problems, maybe even forced you into that difficult superhero life of yours. Defeating him is your grand obsession, more powerful than everything. When your nemesis wins, you want to destroy every unbroken object in your house.

My nemesis haunts me. He perpetrates his crimes and leaves evidence to make it look like I committed them. He spreads rumors about me, trying to kill my confidence. He's responsible for every romantic, professional, creative, and personal failure in my life. He's clever, insidious, and never tired. Even now he plots my demise.

He dents my car, dirties my dishes, and makes my VCR fail. He kills my plants and hides my socks. He fills the refrigerator with fattening foods and messes up my e-mail. You know that ink stain on the carpet? He did that. Same with the broken doorknob and the windows that won't close.

Arch-enemies... Such an energy source! Imagine the bottomless spirit and adrenaline that comes from knowing your enemy was just here. A reason to scream, to shake your fists. Someone to rally against with every ounce of your strength.

Fact is, we do have a nemesis, but so rarely do we provide it acknowledgment. We whine and complain. Yet our nemesis is with us right now, in our kitchens when we cook, in our offices where we work. In our beds when we sleep! We should be darting into the rainy night with capes and superpowers, ready to vanquish it into oblivion. You have tolerated this for too long.

So, I say, discover that heroic strength of yours and go for it. Be advised, your nemesis is lurking in the room with you right now! It's you! Battle that inner enemy. Demonstrate superiority. Start with the words, "Prepare to meet your DOOM, my nemesis."

Now get going. Start vanquishing.

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Copyright 2002 Seth Maislin


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