If you could have any super power...
It’s a discussion pretty much everyone I know has had (well, that’s a guy anyway): “If you could have any super-power, what would it be?” is perhaps the sort of question that humanity has always asked. It could be seen as the question that propels the science and lunacy that creates the tools and machines which in turn realise the dreams. After all, we can now fly, communicate over vast distances, and dive into the dark abyss of the ocean to see what lies therein. Silly questions and fantastic daydreaming are important parts of the human condition. And with the legitimacy of the premise now established, I feel it ok to delve into a brief moment of inanity.
One of the staple super powers most wished for by ordinary daydreamers and fans of free-thinking (mental note: patent the idea of ‘free thinking’, it’d be like free-running, but less insanely French. Though be sure to check that the government hasn’t legislated against it first, seems entirely possible). Sure, we can get on a plane, jump in a helicopter, or dangle from a hot-air balloon if we want, and that’s fantastic, but that is flying with the practicality of the situation bogging it down. No, what we really want is to fly by pure force of will. To get out of troublesome situations by taking to the sky. To glide serenely over the morning traffic. To tip our hat in polite greeting as we pass a flock of birds on the way to work in the morning. Yes, to work. We are after all allowed only one super power - them’s the rules. And if all you could do was fly, you’re actually a bit stuck compared to what popular fiction would have us believe. Go too fast and you’re going to rip off your clothing, and that’s not going to go down well with the boss when you land. Go faster and you’ll get air pushing through the pours of your skin, then into your blood, and then you’re dead. Go too high and you’ll pass out from oxygen deprivation or freeze to death or both. These are the practical elements that tend to be over-looked in comics and other such devices of escapist fantasizing.
Most certainly a super-power that every guy on earth (that I’ve met) has had, mostly at or around about age 14 I believe. The reasons for that will be obvious to men (you already know) and need not be stated for the ladies (whom we hold in such high regard), however it’s a super power that I’ve always had issues with. The trouble is, you’re still there - and no one sees you (duh). You’re going to be getting doors slammed in your face, things thrown at you, cars driving at you, and all sorts. Plus, to what extent are you invisible? Does fog weave around you, and rain pour over you - thus giving you away? If that’s the case are you really invisible? And what’s the point if you can still be heard when you get a sneeze attack? As an interesting aside, isn’t it odd how there’s a natural compulsion to legitimize this sort of fantasizing by slapping ‘rules’ over the concept first. Anyway, invisibility is not a super power that appeals to me - it feels like making yourself more vulnerable to badness than less vulnerable to it. All it’d take is a pack of your arch-nemesis’s favourite hunting dogs, or a simple non-observation while crossing the roads, and you’re dead.
The ability to not be destroyed by anything. It’d be great to be able to walk into a burning building to rescue people, knowing you’re not actually risking anything by so doing. To walk through a war zone and be confident you can get to the other side, negotiate peace, and walk out again. Often this is deemed as a “get out of any situation” super power, but I’m going to turn this one down too. Thing is, I could be indestructible - but that doesn’t mean all this stuff isn’t going to hurt like hell. And, what about ageing? Are you indestructible to the tide of time? What happens if a super villain ties weights to your feet after you having foiled a diabolical plot, then drops you in the ocean? Do you fancy an eternity at the bottom of the ocean with no functional MP3 player? Because those things won’t work that deep down, I tell you.
Ah yes, this is the one for me. It’s also the one that pops into the head of the smarter 14yr old guys, just after the dismissal of ‘invisibility’ as your chosen super power (though again, there’s no need to explain the whys and wherefores of that to you, my dear reader). Time control has a huge number of benefits and could be used all the time to great advantage, for example: Getting tongue tide, or just not sure you’re communicating what you mean to say? Pause time, have a good think, get prepared, then start it up again. Never look like a confused muppet or social incompetent again. Spotted the imminent demise of a citizen at the hands of fate? Pause time, calmly extract said citizen from dangerous situation, press play. Want to just savour a beautiful moment before it passes? Pause, and take all the time in the world my friend. Also, think of it from the other perspective. You could be in one place, then ‘instantly’ be in another by pausing time, walking over, and re-starting. It’d be brilliant. But, this super power is the most tricky one. Because it’s so powerful, and allows you to effectively get the advantage of most other super powers (you’re invincible if you can dodge bullets, you’re invisible if you can pause time and get out of eye-sight), then there is by almost cosmic decree, a price to pay. You’re going to age while you pause time. If you spend 1hr a day with time paused, over a subjective year you would actually aged one year and 15 days, your time. That means you die ‘younger’, and so you’d perhaps want to limit your use of your time controlling superpower. Even so, it’s the power for me.
So, if you could have any super power… ?