Grab Your Cape: An Essay from The War and Treaty's Michael Trotter Jr.

Photo by David McClister

This life we live can seem so empty and cruel at times. I believe it is so because as a child we believe in superheroes. We believe in them so much that we want to be them. Most children who, like me, grew up on comic books and cartoons wanted to be Wonder Woman, Batman, Superman, or, if you’re like my 7-year-old son Legend, you wanted be Hulk. 

We all aspire in hopes of achieving greatness. Think about it: In school, when the teacher asked us what we want to be when we grow up, we would say a doctor or lawyer. Some would say a basketball player and some would say a scientist. You might even hear some children say a garbage man. 

I never once heard a child say a drug dealer or a murderer. I never heard a child say that he or she wants to be a cheater or a failure. No. We all wanna win from birth — scratch that, from inception we race to beat out the other million or so tadpoles racing up the stream of life to exist. The moment we are born we begin the process of separating right from wrong, good from bad, and nine times out of ten we make the right choice. 

So where is your inner child? Is he or she gone? If so, where did he or she go? I can honestly say that my inner child moved. He went from 4116 E. 144th St. in Cleveland to a whole different state. I’m not talking about Maryland or Tennessee — I’m talking about from the state of dreams to the state of depression. As we grow older some of those fantasies we have of true happiness become jaded by the first heartbreak we ever receive. After that first failed attempt we begin to train our hearts that all companions are perfidious. That kind of thought processes the dreams right out of us, and we then become faithfully cynical beings. 

We have to give in to the fact that we weren’t created to live in this kind of fear. We have allowed the failures to dictate our way of life for too long. It’s time for us to let go of our heartbreaks and failures that have our present tense in a chokehold and start doing something our own insecurities have us afraid to, and that’s grabbing hold of one another and literally seeing ourselves through the difficult times. 

When we all gather together in one place for an event we can’t deny that synergy that takes place. It forges complete strangers into a unified choir of facts instead of a chorale of opinions, and for those two hours or so we feel invincible. Why is that, you may ask? I believe it is because for that place in time we forget how “grown” we are and we revert back to our inner child. At least for me, when I go to a concert to see my favorite musician, I get all giddy and loud, silly and free, cheerful and full of endless anticipation and fruitful expectation. Something takes over me to the point to where I don’t care who sees me and how goofy I may look. I’m here in this space and time. Some may call it a moment, but it’s my moment that I’m sharing with everyone else in the vicinity.

Here’s a cool concept (going back to the superhero conversation): Legend has a superhero cape. OK, it’s a bath towel, but he thinks it’s a cape so I let him think it’s a cape ... sue me. I noticed just how much he believed it was a real cape when he became visibly afraid of the dark. He’d cry uncontrollably each night about going to bed because he was afraid of the dark. I got tired of hearing it, so for the first two years of his life he’d ruin most chances of Tanya and I creating another him — until one day when I told him to go to bed he looked at me with tears welling up in his beautiful eyes and said, “Daddy, I’m afraid, but I got my superhero cape, and if I put it on I’ll be powerful.” He proceeded to put the cape on and within minutes he was asleep. No crying and kicking. Just a cute baby snore and I then I was able to have my wife back for some “fun time.”

I know that got weird a little, but here’s my overall point: Don’t forget your superhero cape. When life’s got you afraid to move forward and you feel hostage to fear and anxiety, grab your own special superhero cape and be empowered. When depression wants to pack you up and relocate you to its state, grab your superhero cape and fight it off. Remember you are powerful. There’s a burning inside of us all. It’s getting hotter and hotter. It’s growing wilder and wilder. This burning is uncontainable. It’s heating up every part of our being. That burning is called humanity. It’s your job and mine to keep it ignited in every way possible. We are each other’s gasoline, so we can keep each other fired up and ready to go. We belong to the human race, and our race is lit, baby!

God bless you and remember to love like there’s no tomorrow.

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The War and Treaty is No Depression's Spotlight artist for August. Don't miss our feature story on Michael Trotter Jr. and Tanya Blount-Trotter, an interview with Legend from W&T friend and producer Buddy Miller, and our review of their new album, Healing Tide.