When you hear the names Batman, Spider-Man, Wonder Woman and Superman you picture a logo, an icon, that is instantly recognizable as theirs. The Green Lantern symbol may not be as widely recognized as those big names but it’s a symbol with a lot of history and in my case, personal importance. To help make you understand that I’m gonna have to give you a little comic book history and a little bit of personal history as well. So get your rings and your lanterns ready, Poozers because we’re about to light up the sky with my personal love for all of the Lanterns, The Corps, and what they mean and represent to me.
The original Green Lantern, Alan Scott, was created by Martin Nodell and first appeared in All-American Comics #16 in 1940. It was here that the icon would start out not as well know it today but as a literal emerald Lantern that Alan Scott wore on his bright red shirt. Yeah, it doesn’t make a ton of sense to me either color wise but that’s a whole nother post. Over the years, the Green Lantern would be rebooted a bit and turned into an intergalactic space cop named Hal Jordan, created by Julius Schwartz in 1959, and with it came the new symbol representing the Green Lantern Corps. To wield a Green Lantern ring it is said you must have the ability to overcome great fear and an immense control of willpower. The ring would take anything your mind could think of and then construct it using green light energy as long as your will could stay up. Lose concentration or lose focus and the ring construct would disappear.
Now who would this Green Lantern fight that could possibly be a threat? A former member of the Corps, of course, by the name of Sinestro. Sinestro wields the Yellow Lantern ring, fueled by his ability to instill great fear in others. See where I’m going here? In fact, for years the only thing that the Green Lantern rings couldn’t affect was anything yellow. This rule was later changed and explained away in story but things got even more interesting when other colored Corps began to show up, each one powered by it’s own emotion. So if you’re keeping track so far we have Green for will power and Yellow for fear. Soon we would have Red for Rage, Orange for Avarice, Violet for Love, Blue for Hope, Indigo for Compassion, Black for Death and White for Light. Green is considered the strongest of them all and sits in the middle of the “emotional spectrum of light.”
Now with that bit of background, years ago I had an idea for a group cosplay idea with my friends. I took all the little plastic rings and put them in a cloth bag and one by one my friends picked them out and that ring would be theirs to work with. When I went to choose my own I picked out the Yellow ring, the Sinestro Corps, the ring of Fear. At the time, I found this interesting, while I didn’t think the rings actually “chose us” based on anything powerful or mystical, I thought for the most part that we all chose rings that were relatively good fits for us and our separate personalities. But fear? I didn’t instill fear in anyone. I thought if anything I should’ve maybe had Indigo as my Compassion for other people and animals has always been one of my biggest traits. Fear just didn’t make sense at all.
Needless to say the group cosplay idea never got off the ground or went anywhere. I even lost my own yellow ring when I moved just to show how relatively unimportant that fifty cent piece of yellow plastic meant to me. 2020 rolls around and tells 2019 to hold its beer and we all know how that went for the world at large. But towards the end of the year my own personal problems would come to center stage and fear would be a big part of them. For several years I’d been drinking heavily as a way to deal with my issues of depression, anxiety and fear. Alcohol was my safe place that made me forget and laugh my problems away until one day it stopped being funny. One Sunday night at work I started to feel strange and I couldn’t accurately describe it other than if I stood up and wasn’t holding onto anything then I felt like I was going to fall down. I had to take slow, wide and deliberate steps short distances. Luckily it was the end of the night, we closed up work and when I got home and had a few drinks I felt fine.
The next week would pass like any other day before until one day I woke up and my extremities all tingled and I had a numb sensation in my right leg. I was panicking and freaking out when I called my Mom and she encouraged me to go see a Doctor and on a Sunday that pretty much meant the emergency room. My roommate dropped me off and I walked in to the check in, I grasped the counter and nearly fell. They got me into a wheel chair and immediately admitted me. A few hours, an IV and some tests later I was told I had a slight mineral deficiency but I really needed to get help for my drinking. I brushed it off and left, I could handle this on my own. A few days later and I realized and after talking to a few friends in the medical field I realized, no, I could not do this on my own and I needed professional medical help. I need to go into rehab and detox my system while someone could safely help and monitor me.
Fear. Fear is having to tell your family, friends, co-workers and all your loved ones that you’ve been hiding your alcoholism for years from just about every one and now it was affecting your day to day life and health. I had a problem and I needed help. I feared their reactions to the news. Would they be disappointed in me? Embarrassed of me? I was already having those feelings for myself so it made perfect sense they would feel the same way in my head. But after the initial fear going into those talks I was quick to find out that not a single person felt that way about me. I wish I could say the fear was gone completely, it wasn’t, I still had a long road ahead. The fear didn’t have such a stranglehold on my mind anymore and hope crept in.
For the first time in years, I had hope for myself. It would waver the first few weeks as I found a rehab place to get myself into. The American medical and insurance system is fucked. But I persisted and soon found myself in a place that took care of me physically, mentally and emotionally. I thought it would be easy, my pride took over. I can handle this, I got this. In rehab I saw people with way worse problems then me and some who you’d look at and think “they have a substance problem?” I realized I had a lot of work to do, even when I got out of rehab. I felt good, better than I had in years. Turns out years of heavy drinking was causing a bunch of other underlying minor health issues that simply disappeared once I quit drinking. Who knew? Apparently everyone but me. I had hope again and I realized that just like in the comics you can’t have hope without the willpower to use it. I had the ability to overcome great fear. I am a Green Lantern.
Fear still exists for me but it’s how I react to it and treat it. It’s not about being fearless, it’s about overcoming that fear. Fear exists to keep us on our toes, in line, and in some cases alive. I didn’t have to be without fear I just needed to know how to handle it. The Green Lantern symbol means a lot to me now on this journey I’ve been on. It’s a daily path I take and I haven’t always stayed on track. Fear took over for me before and it did again. I overcame it again and will keep doing so any time I need to. I have the ability to overcome great fear.