Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst in Spider-Man 2

"don't you miss being a kid." a friend said this to me. it was a rhetorical question but i had to answer, "no."

i have nostalgia for my childhood but i love being a grownup. i can eat whipped cream for breakfast. i can stay up all night. i can jump on the bed. i can buy all the candy, comic books, and action figures that i want. just a few weeks ago, my girlfriend and i spent the entire weekend in a living room fort. i can't even remember the last time i was bored but, when i was a kid, i announced it like a foghorn. "i'm bored. i'm bored!" i wailed until a parent arrived to rescue me.

i think a lot of people forget how powerless children are. they depend on grownups for everything: for security, for transportation, for money, for food, for knowledge, for shelter, for permission. not to mention the fact that children are still struggling with problems that adults have mastered. they are traumatized by misunderstandings, name calling, lost toys, lost games, exclusion, relocation, disappointment, the cruelty of other children, and... you remember this, don't you?... their inability to do what they want to do when they want to do it.

nonetheless, i know a lot of grownups who feel trapped. trapped in cities, trapped in jobs, trapped in relationships. i used to encourage them to move, to quit, to breakup. "it's really easy." it kind of pissed me off when they said, "i can't." "you can," i'd argue, "you just don't want to."

that's what i loved about Spider-Man 2. it's about choice. Peter Parker feels trapped by his decision to become Spider-Man but he realizes after a lot of soul searching that he is free -like all of us- to change his life. the following scenes are joyous. happy music plays. Peter relaxes, enjoys the city, dates Mary Jane, and improves at school. he also witnesses the consequences of his decision. crime increases, people suffer, and he is less capable to help them. he eventually realizes that being Spider-Man is worth the sacrifice.

that's the great lesson of the movie, i think. we are free to do whatever we want with our lives but every choice represents a sacrifice. if you feel sad about your life, if you feel like something is missing, consider the choices you've made. maybe you'll find the courage to make a big change but, more likely, you will realize how much you love the life you have. maybe that lousy job pays for your care free weekends. maybe that jealous girlfriend makes you feel like a million dollars. maybe that unappreciative boyfriend is always there when you need someone most. maybe your home town is where your best friends and family live. and that's why you don't want to leave.

© 2004 rama hughes