About a year ago, I was leading a creative writing class and I gave the students this prompt: “If you could be a superhero with one power, what would that power be?” Instantly, snickers and giggles rippled around the table of six writers. We had 15 minutes to complete this task. Then I added: “And say why.”
A creative writing group can be a lot like an improv group in that anything can and does happen at the spur of the moment. I was fortunate to be in an improv group in Los Angeles for two years, and I learned so much about myself. I learned that when you are open to taking risks and open to the possibilities that are before you, one never knows where the storyline will go. I learned that we all have tremendously powerful creative capabilities, but often leave them slumbering out of sense of fear or a lack of enthusiasm. I learned that what is offered unfiltered and on impulse is often brilliant (coming from an inner light) and can often make you laugh with hysteria, and sometimes blush.
Hence, the giggles in our group. This writing group was no different than my improv group, and each student enjoyed taking creative risks. So, I chuckled with a twinge of nervousness as I started the timer and we began to write.
As I pondered the question, I wondered what on Earth I would choose. Could it be a selfish superpower, like being able to fly (sounds fun—dinner in Paris, maybe?), or super physical strength (imagine how popular I’d be with friends who are moving). But then I’d have to justify the why, and neither of those two seemed big enough. My conscience tugged at my muse and begged: What special power would be truly worthwhile?
I decided to take the challenge and open myself to finding out the answer. The gift of creative writing is that often we discover the story only as we are writing it. It’s a journey of exploration and, unless you forcibly try to control it, you never really know the outcome until it happens. Kind of like life.
So, as I asked my muse the question and as I began to put pen to paper—or in this case, fingers to the keyboard—I was surprised with what my muse revealed to me. As I wrote, I discovered that my gift would be this:
I would have the ability to instantly transport anywhere in the world where conflict was just arising—the birth of great wars, the beginning of the dissolution of a wonderful marriage, and so on—and I would be able to diffuse the conflict and misunderstanding within moments. This superpower felt good and seemed to come from a deep place. Then I asked myself, How would this superpower work?
My muse continued: I would radiate a powerful vortex of energy that would bring people to their heart chakra (energy center). They would then instantly connect to their adversary, where they would see and feel and understand the other’s suffering like never before. This epiphany would be instantaneous and so profound that their lives would be forever changed and they would never be able to go back to their old way of thinking. I’d dust off my superpower cape and head back home. Job well done!
Let’s face it: Most of us don’t get into conflict out of a sense of joy and mutual understanding. It usually seems to be ignited by fear, resentment, or greed. But imagine if you could magically disempower those base emotions and awaken people’s compassion? Hitler would have had no choice but to weep at the mere thought of harming another.
Thank you, Muse. This is a super power I could get used to.
In yoga, the level of the heart is where it is said that our primal animal self is joined with our infinite spiritual self. The corresponding emotion is compassion. The latin root words in “compassion” are “com” which translates to “with”; and “pati” which translates to “suffering.” Compassion is the ability to understand and feel the suffering of another, while simultaneously desiring an end to their suffering.
So my super power was about super compassion. I realized that my “why” was simple. We’d all like to enjoy the world without the devastation that conflict can and does create, whether it be small devastation like that from a relationship ended out of petty differences; or large devastation like that from a war, many of which are fought out of greed or ignorance.
What are your thoughts about compassion? Are you able to be with the suffering of another, and not shrink back? Can you see this act as holding a sacred space? When you are in conflict, can you surrender your ego and just be a witness and see all that truly needs to be seen from the opposing sides of the issue?
The seeds for this super power of compassion are within each of us. If you got the chance to be granted a super power, what super power would you choose, and why? If you have one you really like, take a moment to post it below in the comments section. I think everybody would love to hear your thoughts and ideas.