What's My Superpower?

I just finished watching an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer that I found particulary interesting given the events of my weekend.

Let me explain.

I have two friends who were once best friends and basically inseparable. They had a falling out almost 2 years ago, and hadn't really spoken since. I've remained friends with both of them and it's always been pretty clear to me that while they did have a fight, there wasn't really any animosity between them any longer. It's always struck me as odd that neither one of them has tried to talk to each other or clear the air. It's funny how time can create a sense of emotional distance between people.

Last night the one friend and I had plans to go to a bar for a CD release party. They details of that aren't important. We weren't going with anybody else, so I suggested we call some people and see if anybody else wants to go. I mentioned calling the other friend (since I still talk to both of them). The first friend said "go for it", so I called the second friend and invited her to meet us.

This resulted in a strange series of phone calls and e-mails from the second friend, who seemed very apprehensive about meeting up with the first friend in a social setting. I voiced my understanding and told her I was willing to make up a cover story if she wanted to bail. She said she'd think about going, but wouldn't make promises. Then she asked me what I thought she would do. I told her I understood she was afraid, but that I didn't think she had reason to be.

We (the first friend and I) were pretty sure she (the second friend) wouldn't show up. She has never been much for going out to begin with. To our surprise she did in fact show up. And when the two were placed in front of one another all they could do was smile and hug. A lot. It was beautiful and strange and a little overwhelming in a way.

In the episode of Buffy I was watching (from season 7) Xander is speaking to Dawn about how the rest of the scooby gang will never know how hard it is to be an ordinary person without any superpowers. Dawn replies that maybe Xander's special power is knowing and observing and seeing what nobody else does.

I think as human beings we're all hard-wired to feel like we should be something extraordinary. We need a place to fit in the world. A reason for being. And so maybe we can't fly or shoot fireballs or see through walls. But each of us, in our own way, has something that makes us special.

I used to often wonder what it was that made me special. Where did I fit in my circle of friends? What was it that drew people to me? I didn't think of myself and as anybody special. I didn't have any notable special talents and I certainly didn't have a strong personality that stuck out. I still don't. I've mostly always been the silent pensive type.

A few of my best friends, years ago, described me as "the glue". In our rather large circle of friends (at that time) they noted that I was the only one able to bring everybody together, even at the worst of times and when people weren't getting along. They felt I had the ability to bridge gaps between groups of people.

But it was always just something that happened. Mending and maintaining the relationships of others wasn't something I actively tried to do. It just seemed like a lot of coincidence to me. And so I never really understood what they meant. It didn't seem like I was doing anything special. To me it was just a simple matter of putting different groups of people in the same place at the same time.

And that's exactly what I did last night. Nothing special. Nothing out of the ordinary. I just put two people in the same room at the same time, and let them do the rest. The hugged, they laughed, and they talked all night. And today they both thanked me. To quote the first friend, "You did what both of us were too stubborn to do."

I still don't feel like I've done anything special. But maybe my place, - my reason, my hidden talent, my superpower -, is to be some sort of empathic facilitator for others.

Or maybe I just watch too much TV.

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