Superpowers we already have. Or don’t really want.

Women’s magazines regularly run survey articles about what superpowers we wish we had. Just as regularly, these article make me irritated, as the people who respond usually want powers they either already have, or really really don’t want because they haven’t thought through the consequences. Superpowers that are equivalent to absolute dictatorship are also irritating.

Herewith, my responses.

Can’t see a problem with these

I wish I could be with my mother in jail when she was arrested for civil rights work.

Other-oriented. Comforting. Not changing anyone else’s behavior. Check.
Time travel elements are always dicey, of course. Would the civil rights workers have worked any harder if they had known that an African American president was less than 50 years in the future? Probably not. Would they have given up if they thought it would take 50 years to put an African American in the White House? Also, probably not.

Grant worldwide equal rights to women

Sounds good. Say more. What would this look like and how will the various institutions have to change to make it so? How will the women be different on the other side of the power?

And when you’ve thought through all though, realize you have created the next set of seven Harry Potter – magnitude miracle stories. Start typing.  (There’s a reason people write about vampires–it’s easier than making up REAL miracles and superpowers.)

Learn new languages easily

Fact is, we can do this before we are six years old. Lots of neurological reasons why the ability goes away with age, and we’d be in bad shape if we all had the mental skills of a five-year old when we are 40. But if we could figure out how to reinstall the language learning connections into otherwise adult brains, we might have something…
It’s all that hard-shell brain casing. VERY limited real estate. I’d trade the lyrics to Hotel California for fluency in Spanish any day.

Wriggle my nose for a blast of energy

  • This woman hasn’t watched enough Bewitched; her goals are too low.
  • She can wiggle her nose? That’s a superpower all its own…

Probably a really bad idea

No sleep

Good luck with that. We don’t understand why we need to sleep, but it’s pretty universal across mammals, certainly, and most vertebrates (are sharks vertebrates?). Do you really want to be like a shark? There must be something we gain from sleep, and one of these days, we’ll understand it. Accept it.
Limits are good. Sure, you could get more done than every other woman in the car pool, but so can most meth heads, at least till their teeth fall out.

Respond with compassion, always

It’s not a superpower. It’s within you already. If you know that compassion is a possible response, than any time you don’t use it, you are making a choice, sometimes to be a bitch, at other times to simply be tired, or overwhelmed, or limited. 
Those are all fine choice and often necessary choices, IMO, but they are choices, not a lack of a superpower.  (People who have no clue that compassion is always a choice are simply ignorant {insert label here}.)

To be invisible and listen to conversations

Get a Facebook account.

To know the outcome of all the choices I have

This woman MUST be young. I don’t know that I know anyone over 40 who would wish this on themselves. Two words: Christopher Reeve.
Behavioral economics tells us that we are always happier with the choices we make than the alternative, because we’re wired to think that way. In other words, no matter what you decide or which choice you make, it’s the right one. There: I’ve granted a superpower.

The ability to manipulate time

You already have it. Thinking “time” is something outside of yourself, and an enemy that’s keeping you from enjoying your life is like thinking the problem with hoarding is a house that’s too small.

The facility to fly

I could get to Italy by this time tomorrow if I really wanted to go. Everything standing in the way of travel is real-world, not “superpower” related. Make it happen. (Suggestion: start with a passport.)

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