The Beast of Knoxville

There's a character from the Xmen, known simply as "Beast." His real name is Hank McCoy, and he was a public high school teacher before his beastly form took over and he had to take up residence at the Institute. My son Sam has several episodes from the cartoon version on DVD. (Yes, you can blame my husband for turning him into a comic book nerd at such a tender age). Yesterday I was reminded of the episode that tells how Hank transformed to Beast. When he was a teenager, he discovered his mutant powers. Over time, he learned to control them by reciting Shakespeare. When he grew up and became a science teacher, he developed a serum he could take that worked even better. Several years later, Hank finds that he's developed an immunity to the serum and is out of practice meditating on poetry, which in the end leads to an irreversible physical transformation.

So why am I talking about a children’s TV show? Well, there’s a nice scene in this episode where Professor X and the others are trying to bring Hank back after the beast has taken over. They tell him, “This isn't you. You're stronger than the beast. You have to take control.” Ultimately he comes to his senses when Spike, one of his students, begins quoting a passage from Hamlet.

I often hear myself saying these same things to …well, myself. I often need little pep talks to help manage the beastly rage inside me. Rage, you say? Janna is it really that bad? Well, yeah, sometimes, like yesterday, when I want my baby boy to sleep for more than 30 minutes -- and I’m exhausted from being up with him all night, and my oldest son brings home notes from his 3rd grade teacher that make me feel like I’m raising a delinquent, and the little, middle, girl child (which is incidentally who I was) is playing alone in the corner cutting up tiny pieces of paper -- and oh yeah, it’s dinner time and I don’t have anything cooking. Yeah, those days it’s definitely rage. That is until I let the volcano burst. Then it’s lots of tears and remorse.

That’s when I have to go look in the mirror and tell myself, these are only feelings. This is not the real you. You love your kids. You don’t really want to trade lives with the blonde in the jaguar who sped past you in the parking lot. You’re just really tired. Tomorrow will be a better day…I promise.

I often wish I had a serum I could drink to soothe the savage beast. John seems to think that writing is my cure, but it’s hard to make it a priority in the days of small children, dirty dishes and mounds of laundry. So last night, after John made dinner, he said we should go soak up some beauty next Thursday night in the form of an Andrew Peterson concert. The kids don’t have school the next day, so maybe we can even take them with us. Yeah, it’s a 3 hour drive to Nashville, and of course it costs money to go to the show, but a guy who sings about walking in the rain of God’s mercy and letting it soak us down to the bone is a guy that’s worth listening to. Maybe he has a few secrets to share with us. Anyone else wanna go?

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