Gather ‘Round, Padawans: Danny Rand and Readiness

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c. Marvel Comics
c. Marvel Comics

Danny Rand has landed himself in jail for attempted murder. Of a police officer.

That isn’t actually what happened, of course, not even close, but it is what was perceived. I mean, sure, Danny and Luke were embroiled in a physical altercation (shocker, I know), but Danny certainly wasn’t trying to kill anyone. He was trying to get some answers, to right a wrong, and to protect not only his friends but some people he doesn’t particularly care for who have been wrongfully imprisoned.

He is in more danger on the inside than he was on the outside. On the outside, Danny is a hero. On in the inside? A target. A target for every criminal Iron Fist or Power Man or the team has put away. There are a lot of people who fit that description and not even the Immortal Iron Fist can take all of them at once.

Danny could break out. Easily. As easily as breathing.

But he hasn’t nor does he plan to. He hasn’t contacted Luke, who would certainly smash through however many walls were necessary to free his partner and best friend.

Danny has chosen to remain behind bars in order to track the conspiracy which landed him there in the first place.

Danny, in uncharacteristic fashion, has decided to watch and wait. To be patient. To know what he’s up against before he takes a swing.

From whence comes this ability to be flexible? This adaptability? Danny’s ease, if not preference, in acting against the very nature and instincts which have kept him alive in so many dangerous situations across so many years?

A lesson from childhood:

c. Marvel Comics
c. Marvel Comics
c. Marvel Comics
c. Marvel Comics

Someone who trained Danny to fight taught him while one can train to fight, while one can be prepared for different sorts of battles, there is no way to prepare for every potential battle as we have neither the ability to predict infinite manifestations nor the time to ready ourselves. It is impossible to predict which demons will rear up and try to devour us and, even if it were possible, the improbability of seeing every angle, of having the ability to take advantage of every opportunity, makes the attempt a futile enterprise.

Does this mean Danny is defenseless?

Absolutely not.

His teachers have trained him to fight. Prepared him to be prepared. And they have instilled in him their faith in his ability to choose the right course when the moment comes.

We are not the monks of K’un Lun. Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m not. I am not training my children to face literal demons (though we do read a lot of fantasy and it’s a big world so really, who the hell knows). I am training them to fight battles against injustice and inequality, against intolerance and cruelty. I am teaching them to be who they are, whoever that may be, in a world that likes neat slots and boxes and enjoys punishing those who refuse to be categorized. To love and need others and to be independent, sometimes in the same moment. Not to start the brawl but to be the one who finishes it if it means defending themselves or someone who needs help. To, every so often, be the one who starts stuff when stuff needs starting.

I am preparing them to fight.

These battles could be fought between them and anyone from the playground bully to the law of the land. From another human to their deity of choice, should they choose one. Between them and the infinite, sweeping universe.

I can foresee neither every incarnation of each of these possible battles nor the paths they may take nor those fights which may come as their world changes. Even if I could, there is no way I would  have the opportunity to prepare them in the short time they are mine.

Parenting is, for the most part, a catch and release operation. Yes, the release comes in stages from morning preschool to full-time school to college to independence, but each moment they are ours is one moment less we have to ready them for the final leap.

Even in my worst moments of anxiety, I have to acknowledge the rightness of this process. As I watch my children grow and learn and develop, I know this.

Doesn’t mean I have to like it.

wish, fervently and absolutely, I could prepare them for every possibility in detail. That we could map out every conflict, pathway, and battle. I am, by nature, an orderly individual. I like my world to be neat and predictable and my son is much the same, while my daughter is naturally more flexible. Regardless of temperament, however, theirs or mine, life is messy and unpredictable, a beautiful disaster, and all of the other diametrically opposed things you can conceive.

That means, after a certain point, our lives, and more importantly and urgently their lives, are out of our control and theirs. We can teach them to choose and guide them in establishing parameters. We can gift them with the values of kindness, empathy, acceptance, and understanding. We can teach them there are times to be flexible and times to be the immovable object, to stand firm and say, “No, you move.” We can teach them when to walk away and when to fight back. Teach them when it’s appropriate and worth it to be the one to throw the first punch.

c. Marvel Comics
c. Marvel Comics

We can prepare them to be prepared and we can teach them how to fight.

Then, as Danny’s teachers did back in Raksasa Ko Jela, we have to let them go and have faith we’ve done the best we can, faith they’ve listened and learned, faith we’ve taught them to know themselves well enough to choose.

Catch and release.

It’ll be okay. And if it’s not, someone who loves them will always be there to catch them again.

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