March 3, 2003
One of the segments on This American Life this past weekend posed the question, “Which superpower would you choose, flight or invisibility?” It didn’t take me long to decide– flight, definitely.
Flight is the stuff of my dreams. In that space where anything is possible, I’ve soared over the landscape, able to move easily from one place to another, unencumbered and unobstructed by other people. I don’t remember ever dreaming about being invisible.
Flight isn’t just about living a dream, though; it’s also the practical choice. The thing I lack most in my life right now is time, and being able to fly would help tremendously. No longer restricted by speed limits and how the roads are laid out, I could zip to work in far less time than the hour it takes me now. I wouldn’t have to allow extra travel time for traffic jams and construction delays, either. Flying gets me something I really want– more time in the day.
Finally, flight is the cooler power. It’s got a very high wow factor. I can imagine how great it would be. I don’t get the same kind of buzz from thinking about being invisible; fading into nothingness doesn’t seem all that super to me.
One of the people interviewed for the radio story asserted that anyone who’d thought the question through and answered honestly would choose invisibility, that everyone would want to be able to shoplift and get into movies for free and watch celebrities having sex. Actually, no, I don’t want to do those things. I’m fortunate to be able to afford to buy most of the things I want and pay for my own movie tickets, so the “it would let me be a petty criminal” appeal of invisibility doesn’t have a strong pull on me. As far as watching celebrities having sex goes, I think I’d just be embarrassed, even if I did manage to track down some to watch. Besides, I don’t think it would be nearly as appealing in real life as it is on the big screen, where everything’s been edited and touched up to look good.
I was sharing my thoughts on this with Mr. Karen last night, and he tried to sell me on invisibility, mostly by pointing out the drawbacks to flight. Wouldn’t I find the media attention annoying? What about all the people who’d believe my power was the work of the devil? And the nuts who’d try to shoot me down? Surely I didn’t want to be the target of protestors and government inquiries and zealots. If I chose invisibility, no one would have to know. I’d still rather fly, though.
F is for Flight