If Peter Parker ever says his Spider-Sense is tingling, you better believe that he’ll be springing into action faster than you can say, ‘your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man’. Pete is supposed to represent the Everyman in all of us, right? He doesn’t ignore it when he senses impending danger. So, why do we? My best guess has to do with us as humans being essentially hard-wired to hope. I’m not saying this is factual, this is just something I feel, a theory, if you will. No matter the negative thoughts we have about forthcoming situations or events, we hope that everything will turn out in the best way possible. So, we ignore our Spider-Sense and move forward head first into the danger we sense.
Yet, we are surprised when we emerge from whatever the situation was with battle scars. Why? Weren’t we forewarned at the core of ourselves that something didn’t feel right? Now, don’t misunderstand me here, dear reader. Sometimes, the Spider-Sense is a false alarm. We find ourselves thinking, worrying and overthinking, and by the time all is said and done, we realize we’ve just put ourselves through the proverbial ringer for nothing. This has happened to me many times. The opposite has also happened to me many times.
Earlier this week, I returned from what was supposed to be a seven day stay in the Boston area. I had planned a surprise birthday visit for one of my dearest friends, in honor of her 30th birthday. Back in March, I began planting the seeds for what would be the most epic surprise for a birthday. In order to pull it off, I was going to need some assistance. Having been in touch with her roommate for five months before I sent the first message about the surprise, I figured she would be the best place to start. I sent the email, and with the roommate’s enthusiastic response to the plan, the ball was rolling.
During the final week of June, my friend and I had two very nice and lengthy conversations two days in a row. In one conversation, she spilled the beans on what her birthday dinner plans were, which is exactly what I needed in order to properly plan the surprise. I touched base with the roommate just to give her an update regarding where I was on actually coming out to the east. I hadn’t actually bought my ticket yet, as I became unsure about the whole thing. I wasn’t certain about what I’d be walking into. My friend could have a boyfriend or something and I didn’t want to feel like I’d be in the way of that. I didn’t want to be uncomfortable, nor did I want anyone else to be uncomfortable. I reasoned that at the end of the day, I wasn’t going to be around long, I was just going to surprise her that night and be off on my way.
I expressed both my excitement and nervousness about it all to the roommate, who was supportive and put me at ease about it. With that, I ended up purchasing my ticket and continued mapping out how we would execute the surprise. It wasn’t an overly complicated plan. There was a birthday dinner, which I was going to miss on purpose. The roommate was supposed to leave the party early and meet me at the apartment so that I could set up and by the time my friend and her guests came back from the dinner, I’d be there to surprise her. Simple enough. It was going to be fine. She would be surprised and be happy I was there all the way from California and the night would have ended on a positive note.
Yet, I had a feeling in my gut that wasn’t necessarily a nice one. Spider-Sense was tingling, but I didn’t know why. Was it telling me I shouldn’t go out there? I had already purchased my ticket with funds I didn’t really have and I put a great deal of effort and time into her gifts, which I was excited for her to experience. I figured I was overanalyzing the whole thing so, I suppressed the warning as best I could. I tried to think of reasons my friend would be upset with me for surprising her. I thought of scenarios, some of which included a boyfriend, some didn’t. I tried to anticipate every reaction and my own response to those reactions. Ultimately, that drove me a little crazy so I stopped thinking. “It’s going to be fine,” I told myself. It wasn’t as if what I was doing was new or particularly inappropriate. After all, I had coordinated with previous roommates while she was in California. The only difference I saw this time, was 3,000 miles distance.
Long story short, the roommate and I ended up successfully executing the surprise. My friend was beyond surprised, which was the idea. There was in fact a boyfriend, which I suspected even before the roommate made me privy to that bit of information. There was also a special guest in the form of my friend’s oldest sister, who I hadn’t seen in over six years. The birthday bouquet was on the table in a vase provided by the roommate and I placed the birthday bag with her gifts in it, next to the flowers for her to open whenever she was ready. She hugged me (twice) and everything was very nice. My earlier Spider-Sense warning was a false alarm it turned out.
We talked for a few moments and I noticed tears beginning to form in her eyes. She seemed very touched, but as soon as she left the room with her boyfriend, I knew something was off. My Spider-Sense started acting up majorly. What could I do at that point, though? I was already at the apartment and it had already been greenlit that I could stay the night there. I had to wait and see what was going to happen.
The roommate had gone outside to console my friend and later came back to tell me that my friend was upset, which I suspected. It looked like one of my pre trip scenarios had come true, but not in any way I had imagined. The whole surprise had backfired. Why? I don’t know. I ignored my Spider-Sense and I paid for it. The only other action I could have taken when the first warning hit, was to cancel my plane ticket and resolve to just mail my friend a birthday card or something. Like I said before though, I had invested so much into the trip that I had to go.
The next day, was her actual birthday. I received a message from her explaining that she understood that I had good intentions, but she was upset and didn’t want to see me. She felt the surprise was invasive and that it brought about the end of her relationship with the boyfriend and a whole host of other things. Obviously, there were other pieces at work that had little to do with me. My friend and I are now poised to have a conference call with a counselor. She needs someone to mediate for us, which worries me because in the past, whenever there has been an issue between us, we’ve always been able to talk about it. We’ll see how all that goes.
At the start of this, I mentioned that Spider-Man doesn’t ignore his Spider-Sense, and I asked why we ignore ours. At this point, I’ve realized something. Maybe we don’t actually ignore the danger signs. Maybe we act in spite of our Spider-Sense because we hope that everything will work out. The battle scars we get when we “pay the price” for acting or ignoring our Spider-Sense might be just what we need to learn whatever lessons we’re supposed to learn. Through all the anguish, we hope in the long run we’ll be stronger for our suffering. Eventhough it could take us a while to see it.
I’m not going to tell you that the point of this entry is to say ‘don’t ignore your Spider-sense’. I’m going to tell you that you should act upon your best judgement. Or don’t. Sometimes we know exactly what the threats are, sometimes we feel the threats. Just be more aware of your Spider-Sense. That’s really all I can say. Then move from there. Carry on. As hard is it can be, carry on.