What’s Your Superpower?

We all have five senses (some say we have a sixth sense); yet, we don’t all have the same five senseslevel of capability when it comes to our use of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. Everyone has some level of heightened sensory perception with one or more of his or her senses and some diminished level of ability with others.

I clearly know my strengths and weaknesses regarding my means of perception. Ever since the sixth grade, I knew that perfect vision was something I couldn’t have without corrective lenses (or, the relatively recent development of LASIK). I’ve managed with glasses and contact lenses over the years, but I’ve always been envious of those with 20/20 vision, like my wife, cultural junkie.

I knew my vision was terrible, but I was taken aback during my last visit to the optometrist.

After he did some tests of my vision and determined my blind manprescription, he said, “Oh, the blind man!” At first, I thought it was a bit of a joke, but after a moment of contemplation, I realized it wasn’t. I can’t see perfectly clear for more than a half a foot away from my face and after learning how visual acuity is measured, I came to the realization that I’m technically considered a blind person without corrective lenses. Keep in mind that this is not legal blindness, which is when a person’s visual acuity is greater than 20/200 with corrective lenses. Regardless, I can’t see a damn thing without my lenses; thus, constituting a seriously deprived sense of visual perception.

On the other hand, I posses a phenomenal ability to hear sounds. I’m no bat, bird, dolphin or cat, but I do have an uncanny talent for hearing things that others around me cannot. I’m not sure if this is related to my poor visual acuity or over-sized ears, but I do know that I have some level of elevated sense of hearing. In addition to hearing things others can’t, I can often distinguish specific types of sounds and precisely identify an object’s location, direction and physical make-up.

Regardless of this great auditory ability, I haven’t reached the level of masteringacoustic location human echolocation, like many blind folks. It’s true, this sonar system that bats and dolphins use to navigate their surroundings has been utilized by a number of blind people. In fact, there’s a story of a blind boy who can shoot hoops by listening to the echoes of his palate clicks. Wow! A blind basketball player who can sink shots! I guess I have no excuses when I’m throwing up bricks. Check out this amazing video of human echolocation in action.

I’m sure you may have previously heard of supertasters, who have a highly supertaster vs nontasteracute sense of taste. From what I’ve read, it seems like this increased sensitivity to flavor compounds appears to be more of a headache than a superpower. Supertasters tend to strongly dislike bitter foods and receive less enjoyment from fatty and sugary foods. Nevertheless, it’s estimated that about 25% of the population of European decent are supertasters, with a higher incidence among women, Asians and Africans. Are you a supertaster? You can find out with this simple supertaster quiz on the BBC website.  You may also perform your own self-diagnosis with a mirror and a little blue dye. This at home supertaster test can be done by measuring the density of fungiform papillae, which contain taste buds on their surface. If you have a high density of these papillae, then you’re a supertaster!

Another of our five sense that may not always be a superpower when enhanced is the sense of smell. Oh, it’s amazing how our ability to detect aromas can move our emotions and trigger long forgotten memories. Despite these pluses, do you want the ability to tune in on every aroma out there?what's that smell My wife has an unbelievably powerful olfactory system. She smells all sorts of things that I can barely detect or even know are present. I’m sure this ties in strongly with her supertaster ability and makes the consumption of tasty foods and drinks a more enriching experience. Nonetheless, this super sense of smell often leads to her noticing highly unpleasant aromas to which most of us are oblivious. I can’t even recall the number of times she’s said, “What’s that smell?” with a crinkled nose, as if she just caught wind of some rancid flatulence. My response to this is almost always, “What smell?” and this isn’t because I dealt it, it’s because I really can’t smell it. Seriously!

Anyway, as far as superpowers go, that only covers four of the senses. I know I’ve excluded the sense of touch along with a whole host of ways in which we posses or exhibit superhuman ability. One could have phenomenally quick reflexes, an amazing sense of direction or internal GPS, super flexibility, superb equilibrioperception, bird-like magnetoperception, etc. There’s also common sense, to which one of my best friends always summed up in this way, “Common sense is the least common of all senses!” Let’s not forget the sense of self. Unfortunately, too many of my fellow humans do not know themselves and abstain from basic self-reflection. My main objective in creating and sustaining this blog is to develop a better sense of myself.

What’s your superpower?

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8 Comments

  1. I strongly recommend everyone check out the video of human echolocation. That kid is a genius and his mom deserves a medal. I definitely do not think that all people have the superpowers that are mentioned in this blog. Conditional cognition understates his supersonic hearing ability. He can hear something wiggle in the car that I can’t hear while intensely listening and I have good hearing. Having an acute sense of smell and taste have greatly impacted my perception of the world. For example, I rarely drink beer, but sometimes find myself washing down some food with it when nothing else is available. This weekend at the OC Fair, I ran out of water and had to wash my cheese on a stick down with conditional cognition’s beer and he asked me to guess what kind it was. I tasted it and pondered for a moment. I often can’t taste the subtly of beer since its bitter favor overwhelms by taste buds, but somehow it made me think of the smell of red dusk, banana trees, cassava roasting, and pork grilling. I asked him if it was New Castle and much to our surprise I was right. I tasted New Castle once, 5 years ago, when I lived in Uganda and the taste brought me right back to that moment. The sense of taste and smell are totally underrated. Whether a smell or favor is reminding me of a distance place or person, I can’t imagine my life without this superpower.

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  2. Maybe when you lose one of your senses, then one of your senses will function superbly in the absence of the other one. Human being is really a mysterious creature indeed heheheh.

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  3. The video was a real “eye-opener” for me. I’m a person who relies heavily on his senses, especially my gift of sight. I derive so much pleasure from seeing it’s hard to imagine being without it. But look how skillfully and joyfully this young boy lives! The human spirit is amazing, and feeling, too, is a way of seeing.

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  4. @Trisha: I agree! I sense that life always tries to create some sort of balance.

    @Shankha: Thanks for the feedback and I’d be happy to have you here again!

    @Nothing Profound: Yes, I’m not sure how I would cope with the loss of one of my senses; yet, I think that we each possess much greater powers within us than we know. Maybe it just takes extraordinary circumstances to stir up the powers within us.

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