Chadwick Boseman (1976 – 2020), who played the superhero in Black Panther, died of Colon Cancer a few days ago. His death set me thinking about disability, to reveal or not disclose our battles with a terminal disease, and the relentless quest to achieve our life’s purpose.
Boseman faced a hidden challenge, – Colon Cancer.
In the summer of 2018, Kwami and I were in Oakland, California. Shante and Mark chose the Berkeley Botanical Garden for wedding jubilations, so we spent a week running around in the Bay Area.
A quirky little destination on 24th Street Oakland, California, called the New Parkway Theater.
There is a quirky little destination on 24th Street called the New Parkway Theater. The word “New” is a form of advertising their weakness, much like some of the recent political strategies. Advertise by saying you are excellent where your downfall actually shines. But perhaps in the theater world, “new” refers to co-ed restrooms, Bingo and Beer, Drink and Draw, comfy couch seating (although they are certainly second hand couches), and food and drinks delivered to you in the café or as you watch a movie… cutting edge in those respects! Very new. When it reopens after Covid 19, check it out. The vibe is excellent.
We had not caught it fresh in the theaters, so we finally watched Black Panther. Black Panther is normally not my type of movie, too much action. But Chadwick Boseman and crew delivered to a varied audience, and certainly the messages were deep and blaring. Deep and blaring messages make it MY type of movie. I most certainly cried, and cried again. The power and energy of Black Panther were timely, in that it was time for us to make another leap into a better world. Decades ago, it was time. But humanity is slower than a sloth in molasses.
Apparently Boseman faced a hidden challenge, one I am not hiding – Colon Cancer. He was fighting it for several years without word to the media. He made movies and lived his life, married his wife. And the secret dis-ease was eating at his body.
To the Federal Government, Stage Four Cancer earns a person the right to “disability”. Disability does not mean unaccomplished, or lesser, or incapable of changing the world. It means there is a challenge, perhaps an enormous one, that hampers daily existence. Chadwick Boseman and his co stars created the top grossing movie of all times, Avenger’s Endgame, while he dealt with the ramifications of colon cancer and its treatment. Facing a disease does not align a person to “being disabled”.
On the contrary, his ability to capture an audience and deliver insightful reflection was heightened. Boseman likely felt the “get it done now” pressure that any of us feel when we are looking death directly in the eye. He was a talented man destined to share a great deal with the world. He did it quickly and he did it well. His gifts and messages squashed the expectations people have of the sick.
Do you think Chadwick Boseman kept the secret for a reason? Perhaps the studio would not hire him. Maybe his power would have been overshadowed. If the public, in mass, believed he was going to die, how much more quickly would it have occurred?
The lesson that I am trying to assimilate appears to be life purpose. The messages of Black Panther and his other movies may have been Chadwick Boseman’s life purpose. It would have been enough. Or it may have been his visits with children in the hospital. Or his love for and marriage to his wife. But purpose appears to be cumulative… or, fully not cumulative and just about the moment we are in. Although we may miss the gifted star, no one dies too young. We all die perfectly, at the right time, and with the intention of the Divine.