Her voice is as lovely and delicate as a web.
She describes how fragile they are,
how they can die from a simple fall.
Then she tells me about their burrows
which are tidy and dry and decorated
with silk. They are solitary, she tells me,
and utterly mild, and when they are
threatened they fling their hairs, trying
not to bite. She says they are most
vulnerable when they molt: unable
to eat for days while they change.
They are misunderstood, she explains,
and suddenly her description becomes
personal. She wants to keep one
as a pet, to appreciate it properly,
to build it a place where it belongs.
~ Faith Shearin (My Daughter Describes the Tarantula)
My stomach’s tied in knots. Days of knots that wake me at 2am, hold on for hours. Resurface in daylight to render me jangled. Knots over a decision that involves something I care about, that I entered an agreement around. That requires courage and ultimate trust in myself, because it might shake down to more on the line than a preferred outcome. Because it could change my life. And I don’t know if these knots are fear or my intuition. They can feel so much the same. I feel fragile.
I remember the first time I heard spiders are fragile. I thought how I’d shook them out doors and windows for decades instead of killing them. A few times from many stories up, actually thinking they’d throw a thread, were tough like insects oughta be. Even with knowing they weren’t insects. Then one day I had to face I probably did harm in my saving, and I felt bad for my ignorance of their fragility. Something I could forgive myself, considering how far I’d come from a deeply instilled phobia. A phobia my mother imparted to protect me from an abundance of black widows in corners and on ledges. To assure her little girl safe. One that by the time I decided I didn’t want to deal with the spider thing, anymore, I couldn’t remember when I hadn’t avoided a picture of one of the creatures. But I could remember the no fear as a tiny girl watching a man in a movie stuck in a giant web, knowing he’d be okay though a monster-sized spider moved toward him.
I was twenty-seven, alone with a seven-yr-old, having left a many-years abusive relationship when I claimed that no fear, again. I can still see the space and the spider that moment I knew I’d gained agency over another tiny slice of my life. The small, dim room with cheap brown paneling, brown indoor-outdoor carpet on the floor. The simple desk with the IBM Selectric typewriter and font balls where I designed brochures and resumes. Where I sat in my chair, watched a spider walk the entire perimeter of the room. Learned, for sure, I’d still live.
I’ve reached out to others for perspective regarding my current angsty questions, and with what I’ve learned about the failings of allowing my head to pull me back from intuition, I’m moving forward with care. + Muscle test says it’s fear this time. Which means things get down to this. . .Can I trust the person and process I’m not sure I trust, yet. Trust I’ll know the right path. Not assign outcomes that match perceptions before I discover what *is,* like with the fragility of spiders. Can I let this spider walk the perimeter, see I won’t die. Because we have to start somewhere in trust to become better stewards of fragile things. Even when it’s ourselves. That’s what I think, anyway. What do you say?
Another small journey to mindfulness. Getting to Wise.
A Writer’s Life.
A secret: Sometimes when I turn off the light at night, I’ll turn it back on, check under the covers for spiders. Even when I know they’re not there.
A favorite: Satisfaction when my intuition proves right, and I listened.
Painting by Susan Seddon Boulet