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August 7, 2012

The Ying and Yang of Coupling

Saturday night I couldn’t sleep (too excited about the Federer/Murray match) so I started listening to some of the old This American Life episodes, including “Superpowers”. William is not a TAL listener, so the next morning I asked him the question of Flight or Invisibilityfor the first time.

He answered after a solid 30-second consideration (there is no such thing as ‘gut reaction’ for him):

“I think it will have to be flight … what you gonna do with invisibility? you will have to sneak around all the time.”

Since my ‘gut reaction’ was exactly in-line with the woman who would walk into Barney’s and steal sweaters, I was like: “But that is exactly the point! so you can sneak around and steal stuff!”

We laughed at the fact that one person’s deal-breaker, in another person’s eyes, is actually the deal-pincher, which just shows how different of people we are. We kept listening at the breakfast table, and the guy went on about why he felt so conflicted about the answer:

Be the person we would like to be? or the person we fear we are.

I declared there is absolutely no internal struggle for me: Invisibility, any time, anywhere. I am that “fearful, crouching masterbater”, and I am fine with that.

But then he asked whether I answered it as if it’s something that would never happen, or I gave my practical consideration? I was like “Of COURSE it’s something that would never happen. You meant you actually answered it as if it COULD happen for YOU?!”

A patient person as he is, he enlightened me with a parallel comparison of what one would do with winning a million-dollar lottery. If you see it as something that would never happen, the answer might be to blow it in one night in Vegas. But if you think it COULD happen, you might say you want to put 90% of it in the bank, and the rest for a grand vacation, etc.

Upon that explanation, I changed my mind, because I don’t want to risk going to jail. And we rejoiced at the realization that 1: I am not totally hopeless; and 2: Punishment is indeed effective in deterring crimes.

Now … the next logical question is, if there’s NO consequence, would I still choose Invisibility?  I will say … no, and this time for the same reason William rejected it. I don’t want a Superpower that I always have to justify to myself before I use it. Sneak-and-steal is not only physically exhausting but also mentally taxing.

So flight it is.

Did William figure all these out in 30 seconds?!


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