Sunday, April 21, 2013

Drugs Give You Superpowers? WTF???

A common complaint I hear concerning The Seven Habits is that Bosley’s ability to travel through time implies that drugs give you superpowers.   The first time I heard this, I was a little shocked. It never occurred to me that Bosley’s portion of the story would be interpreted that way.  Mainly due to that fact that I never saw his travels as a superpower, or even any type of “gift” for that matter.   Being pulled through the Eye of Aeons, as I saw it, was a curse if anything.

To begin with, the process is extremely painful. Chills race through Bosley’s body despite the sheen of sweat glistening on his skin and he’s wracked with waves of nausea while simultaneously feeling as though he’s starving. Within seconds, the true pain hits. Bosley describes it as feeling like millions of tiny fangs ripping and shredding nerve endings that have been exposed after the skin has been peeled away with a paring knife. So it’s not exactly a pleasant experience.

On top of this, these travels have done a real number on his mind. Since time no longer exists as something linear, the man is never entirely sure what has already happened and what is yet to come. Past, present, and future are one, big, messy blob. He says he thinks this is because the human mind wasn’t made to simultaneously exist in multiple planes of existence, which sounds about right.

But it’s not just how the Eye of Aeons affects his memory; he’s also been thrown into a world of moral quandaries.  One of the reoccurring themes is the ambiguous nature of morality and in Bosley’s tale he struggles with concepts of right and wrong constantly.  He’s forced to reassess every notion he’s ever held about right and wrong, to find justifications for things he never would have done before that Eye opened.  And it drains him. He even states a time or two that he’s wished it never would have happened to him, that he could be just an ordinary guy doing ordinary things. Since he can’t control these travels, however, that choice is no longer his to make.

The true superpower in the book, I think, is the transformative power of love. Bosley is a very self-centered person. He’s politically incorrect, vulgar, abrasive, and arrogant.  Nothing else is as important as his own inner world. Even his search for enlightenment is fueled by self-serving interests; as he says in one scene, he is trying to rebuild his ego from the ground up so he can have everything he’s always wanted, but was too afraid to ask for.

This changes when he’s set down in Ocean’s consciousness and literally walks in her shoes. For perhaps the first time in his life, he’s really able to understand and share the feelings of another.  Unfettered by sexual attraction or thoughts of romance, his love for this young girl is simple and pure. He only wants what’s best for her, to protect her from a lifetime of suffering, fear, and heartbreak.  There’s absolutely nothing in it for him, no ulterior motives or personal rewards. And yet he completely alters the course of his life in an attempt to help her.  He becomes selfless.

Do drugs give you superpowers? I think not. Compassion and empathy, on the other hand….

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