If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
From when I was a young child, this is a question that I have asked and been asked on numerous occasions. I was an avid reader, and the large number of fantasy books I read definitely must have influenced me to genuinely dwell on what it would be like to have some form of magical power (definitely harbouring a secret hope that some day I could truly achieve it). And I must admit, one of the primary sources of that was certainly the infamous series Twilight, as I yearned for the powers that they – Edward, in particular, had.
Personally, I always thought mind-reading was the obvious choice of superpower. It seemed incredibly useful, I have an inherently curious nature, and I perpetually wonder what people are thinking of me. Of course, I had certain stipulations – I’d like to be able to turn it off or tune it out easily, I’d not want the people to be able to sense my presence unless I told them, I’d like to be able to communicate with them telepathically if I so wished. (Yes, I know that’s a whole other superpower, but who says your dreams have to be realistic?)
Over time, I’ve seen – and had it pointed out to me – what several flaws with such a power could be. Yes, hearing other people’s thoughts could be useful, but it could also be incredibly intrusive. What about if I heard horrible problems and negative thoughts that other people were always thinking, and it began to effect me? What if I couldn’t turn it off, and could therefore never just be able to experience peace and quiet? What if I used it on the people I loved, who then lost trust in me because they found it difficult to be around me? Or what if I just heard enough horrible thoughts, the kind that should never be spoken out loud, to a point where I lost faith in humanity? (I suppose the last one never truly applied, as it’s something that happens on a daily basis despite my still only having access to the things people say and do in public. It’s disgusting.) But, I found ways past all of these. I rationalised and justified how I could potentially help people with problems if I found out about them. I added Clause 1.1 – the ability to stop listening when I so wished. I convinced myself that I could have the self-control to not listen to specific people, especially those who asked me not to. Alternatively, I figured, I could find a way to put up a wall, and teach them. That’s a pretty good compromise, right?
You may have noticed that this has all been in past tense, and I am thus disappointed to report that these all remain mere dreams of the past. 20 year old me, despite still harbouring a faint hope that someday, somehow it will become possible, is closer to accepting reality than the ardently faithful 10 year old me; although I do admit, I’ve put a lot more time and thought into acquiring such powers that I probably ought to have. Naturally, I’ve considered other options as well, and I must say some close runners-up for me include teleportation, invisibility and the ability to talk to animals. Cliched choices, I know, but you can’t deny there’s a reason everyone wants them.
Finally, here are some of the other supernatural powers I’ve read of and liked the concepts of. Alice’s ability from Twilight to see the future, and Benjamin’s (also from Twilight) to manipulate the elements. The ability to read characters out of books, not technically considered a super-power, but something that I envied in Mo extremely, in the Inkheart trilogy. Superhuman speed and agility from just about every vampire novel, or the elasticity of Helen “Elastigirl” Parr from The Incredibles. Telekinesis, which I remember specifically wanting when I read The Power of Five by Anthony Horowitz. Or, the two most unique ideas I’ve seen of all, from two users on tumblr.