“If you had a superpower, what would it be?”
I’m sure all of us kept wondering what would our own special abilities be, if we had one as depicted in cartoons and movies. I don’t know about kids these days, but the 90s would usually pick one from the gauntlet of DC and Marvel superheroes, from Superman’s flight to Wolverine’s regeneration. Then there are the more ‘modern’ superheroes, it’s no surprise one of my favourite series was Heroes, depicting everyday people finding themselves blessed with extraordinary powers. I’ve always thought Sylar’s intuitive aptitude was the best, the ability to learn anything instantly was an allusion to humanity’s constant thirst for knowledge. We can only dream of having superpowers, but I would like to believe we all already have secret powers within us.
I was asked that same question twice for camp interviews, and someone recently randomly asked me the same question again, and I would like to share my honest answer. Many people would choose those extraordinary abilities many would consider “normal” - flight, regeneration, teleportation, etc. I was pleasantly surprised that those I’ve answered have yet to hear the one superpower that I would like to have. While I usually answer in its simple term “I want to make others feel better”, the proper term would be empathic healing.
If I may, I would like to go into the ‘technicalities’ of it. I feel what makes us human isn’t the ability to feel, many would argue animals feel too, but empathy - the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Empaths are people with the power to fully interpret and replicate emotions, moods and temperaments of others. However, holding this power opens us to the possibility of emotion manipulation. This is a dangerous power to have, we could basically control how people feel and use it in the most despicable of ways. I would never allow myself to be exposed to such power, especially after being accused of it many times over. Instead, empathic healing would enable one to feel better, simply because I believe that nobody should ever feel unhappy, not around me at least.
We all know what sadness could do to us, especially if we can’t get out of it. I believe that as friends, we should do whatever we can to make our friends feel better, as long as we guide them away from a destructive path after. Personally, I strongly feel that if I can’t make myself happy, I might as well do what I can to help others feel happy. Of course, this is where the downside of empathic healing comes in.
The emotional pain one feels doesn’t simply disappear. Instead, it’s being transferred to the one with the superpower. While I do believe that nobody around me should feel sad, I also do believe that I can never be destroyed emotionally. Yes, I may fall, (this time I have fallen a little too far), but if there is anyone who could find hope in the darkest of times, it would be me. To know how to deal with suffering we have to experience it, and while everyone’s threshold is subjective, I’m learning in a lot of ways to live, and in fact, thrive in this.
My wish for empathic healing also comes from the fact that I no longer see interdependence the way I used to. I’m starting to feel that I must be independent, and I will learn how to be independent again, all the while balancing my openness to ensure I would never numb or hide myself again. It is a tall order, I am still finding the balance I admit, but the moment I do I can learn to love freely once again. I made a grave mistake numbing myself, and wrongly believed that interdependence could keep a relationship alive, completely disregarding independence.
I’m striving to be strong enough for another person, such that I could be relied upon all the time, while keeping myself open enough to allow them into where my demons hide. I have to learn to keep them under control, so they would never scare anyone away ever again if they ever visit. It’s not easy, we grew in a world where demons should be vanquished rather than kept, but I have faith I would eventually be able to do it and perhaps one day learn to love again.
If you think about it, maybe love is a superpower we all already have. Some of us have been blessed to experience a glimpse of how love could empower us, others have been unfortunate to be on the wrong side by its immense capability for destruction. I think I had a little bit of both. Perhaps after reading this you’ll reconsider the notion of superpowers, and now it’s my turn to ask:
“What’s your superpower?”