I don’t know too many people who love the sight of one of these eight-legged creatures either encountered on the floor or in surprise meeting on a walk through a near-invisible web in the woods. They scare me, too but I will save one out of a puddle of water.
One recent evening I opened my back porch door so my rescue dog Lily could complete her end of the day ablutions and caught a slight movement out of the corner of my eye. Just beyond the opening of the door was a long silvery strand. I looked above and left and there, moving methodically, was a large brown spider carefully and rhythmically attaching the cross-strands to its web.
I was transfixed.
The only thing I could imagine the other ends of this web would be attached to were the eave of my house and a tall pine that stood just outside the door. This was a span of 4-6 feet each way so I could see this was a massive spider web. As I watched this spider I was a little jealous. Here is this creature sharing this planet with me. The spider comes into being knowing what it will do its entire life. Make webs, catch and eat insects (in some cases with some spiders, small birds), make egg cases and ultimately die. It goes through its life doing exactly as it is meant. It has no ego. It has no higher aspirations. It does not want to be the highest order of spider or become jealous of other spiders for their more beautiful markings or various different webs. It simply exists in and of itself serving the purpose it was born to.
Is it the lack of ego? Absence of fear or other emotions? Is it the presence of these that so inhibits us, sometimes to the point of emotional paralysis? We come to these walls, these blocks. Then somehow we have a breakthrough. We move smoothly, then stuff accumulates. Repeating many times, different circumstances. It’s the journey we are told. Not the end, but we are moving toward… ?
So I watched this spider, long after Lily had returned to the house and her comfy dog bed. Proverbial in movement, graceful almost. Gratified that there are some things over which we have no control and which move on with their lives, small though they may seem.
Many creatures can lose an appendage and not die. A starfish can lose a leg, or 3, and regenerate it. Even the arm can become a new starfish. I did not know spiders could regrow a leg! We know sharks continually lose and replace teeth (evidenced by this summer along my coast). Planaria– those cellular things we looked at under a microscope in high school biology –can create an entire new creature from each piece cut away from the original. And the one we all know, lizards (geckos, anoles, etc.) can grow a new tail if all or part breaks off.
One of these latter found its way on my sun porch. I was on the phone and my rescue dog Lily was close behind me. It was up on the screen and it took a minute to realize it was on the inside. Probably would have been fine, minding its own business but knowing Lily’s capabilities and appetite for the new and different I thought it would be better off if I caught it and took it outside.
First, do you know how hard it is to actually lay hands on one of these? Then when you have it the little thing wriggles out of your (however light so as to not squeeze it to death) grasp till all you have is its tail, which it breaks off by swaying rapidly back and forth. Maybe it does this intentionally. Lily made quick work of the still-wriggling tail while I tried to gently capture it again. Success, opening the door, placed hand on the rail by the steps and it wouldn’t jump off. No matter how many ways I turned my hand it trotted back up my wrist as though that which would save it (anywhere off my arm/hand) was more of a danger than I. Flattering but not my intention for the little thing. Lily caught on to what was happening and raced by me to place her massive open jaws underneath my hand should he misstep and fall into them. He saw this and jumped off to the safety of the brickwork that is my house.
I imagine he will have quite a tale to tell all his friends.
It seems funny to me to be writing about my divorce after 32 years of being so. Like I had to hit the ground flying right away. Even though I had less than most to juggle and was more fortunate in many ways. A family business to work in and a family who actually welcomed me because things were kind of tough at the time, a 2-year-old son who was remarkably placid and obedient, and a car that ran. So I had a lot going for me, but I had a lot to regroup too, like most single parent women I guess.
First was I had really believed in marriage. Ultimately not mine obviously, but when all was said and done and the dust settled I had to grieve the death of it. I had never realized in my youthful naivete that the marriage itself was a living, breathing entity ostensibly nurtured by the two presumably cooperative and loving participants. But we weren’t. Loving or cooperative, at least not at the end and actually, during the 4 or 5 years of it, not usually at the same time, either. But somehow it seemed to work.
Until the baby came.
Throw a baby into an already thin-iced mix of problems and you basically go crashing through the surface into frigid depths. And the baby has to be protected at all costs from becoming collateral damage. Because it was never anything s/he had anything to do with in the first place. S/he was meant to be an expression of love, not drunken lust or selfish ambivalence. If both participants in the marriage aren’t equally enthusiastic about this newcomer one of them has to carry the heft and one can’t. It’s something both parents are meant to do together. Not the baby’s problem.
So yesterday was the anniversary of the end of my marriage and the beginning of something I was never going to be ready for- single parenthood, family business and figuring out why I’d got to that place in the first place. Most parts found their wholeness. For better or for worse my son did grow up, found a solid career which he enjoys, and a girlfriend. The family business thing did not work out because my dad and I could not find a level playing field. I never figured out what I was gifted for, so maybe now, on my own with no one but me and a devoted canine friend to be responsible for, I can.
Hope springs eternal, and where there’s life…