I was recently asked, “If you could have a super power, what would it be?”
I didn’t respond right away; I was intrigued, but unsure.
What did my friends desire? I wondered. A rapid-fire text poll was immediately initiated, and the answers poured in.
Trina and Liz chose invisibility, although Liz would settle for freezing time.
Sherri and Alayna preferred telepathy, while my Aunt Angie, a Harley-riding nurse, wanted to be “fast.” We decided the proper super power term is “teleport.”
Kerri chose flying, while Sarah craved the power to eat, drink and be merry while maintaining a perfect physique.
Rachel, my witty introvert, threw me off completely with “super strength.” You think you know someone . . .
My mama, true to her heart, wished for the “Midas touch of healing,” while Alicia replied, “Love is often relative to timing,” and therefore picked the power to make two people realize their love for each other at the same time. The One that Almost Got Away Power, perhaps?
What about the guys? Ryon immediately shot back: “adamantium skeleton.” Matt W. chose “the man of steel,” and Matt B. took it to a whole new testosterone-packed level with “Internet throat punch.” Boys!
All fantastic answers, albeit a tad violent in some cases, but I was still at a loss. Although I inherited my mom’s wild imagination, something about this question demanded my dad’s rationality. I didn’t want to just wish for a super power. I wanted to have one. What is the greatest power in the world? I pondered. The answer arrived immediately.
Some say math is the universal language; my dominant-right brain indignantly begs to differ. A quadratic equation in Nebraska would mean the same thing to me in Namibia: Where’s the bathroom?
One thing does unite us, however. One simple act conveys the same meaning no matter where your feet are planted on the globe: the sound of pure joy escaping from the soul. To laugh, I decided; that is the greatest power of them all.
Oscar Wilde wisely remarked, “If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh. Otherwise they’ll kill you.” He knew. One laugh can change everything.
Have you ever been so mad at someone that it feels good, because you are so right and they are so wrong? Then, just as you’re revving up for a completely justified rant, they cross their eyes or unexpectedly crack “your mom.” Just like that, your billowing negative force field transforms into positive particles of energy as you choke on a chuckle.
Scientifically speaking, it makes sense. The act of laughing releases endorphins, happy microscopic dancers flashmobbing through your veins. A hearty laugh can relieve stress for up to 45 whole minutes. Just the sound of laughter triggers a subconscious response in the people around you that can shift the energy in a room. How’s that for power?
Ever tried smiling at a stranger? How about 10 in a row? Try it: I bet more will smile back than look at you as though you’ve recently arrived from Pluto. A few may, but who cares? You’re from Pluto. People smile there. And despite their sour earthling face, you may have just made their day.
So what happens if you turn the greatest power in the world on ... yourself? No one can ever laugh at you if you get there first. Laugh, and the world laughs with you. My dear friend Trina taught me that. Thanks goodness she wasn’t granted her super power.
My real life super power, then, is the ability to laugh at myself. The wonderful thing about it is that anyone can have it; Trina and I don’t mind sharing.
The next time you mispronounce a word or grossly underestimate the distance of the curb to your tire – laugh. You messed up big time! Ha! The more you do it, the easier it gets, and the better it feels. As you chortle at your imperfections, people will gravitate to you. It takes the pressure off to be perfect themselves.
So smile at strangers. Make fun of yourself. Change the world, one conga line of endorphins at a time. In the words of the great Captain Planet: The power is yours.
Melissa Frink is one of five reader columnists whose work appears on this page. She lives in North Tacoma with her feline daughter, Moxie Moo Frink. She has no human children at this time. Email her at melissa.j.frink@ gmail.com.