I’ve decided to think differently about spiders.
It’s not a new year’s resolution exactly, because I think making those is setting one’s self up for failure. I’ve just decided to rid myself of the belief that spiders are out to get me; that they’re bent on frightening the devil out of me. Umm … momentary lapse there. As I was saying, I’m changing the way I view spiders.
Arachnophobia runs in my family. I remember as a small child seeing my mother paralysed with fear when a large hairy huntsman spider dropped onto her shoulder while she was doing the laundry. In those days bed sheets were boiled in a large copper tub filled with water and prodded with a long wooden rod (Yes, I am that old). This took place in a semi-detached laundry which, in old houses like ours, was really a bit of a lean-to with no interior lining. It provided easy access for spiders. In fact, it seemed to be a preferred location for ambushing arachnophobes like us.
The look of abject horror on my mother’s face when that huge hairy spider sprung onto her shoulder has stayed with me all these years. It was my earliest realisation that such fears can be transferred through families. Her reaction was excessive. Shrieking and frantically brushing at the same time, she then bent over to vomit, her terror was so great. The incident left an indelible impression on me – not a good one. Goodness only knows how the terrified spider felt.
A few days ago I went into my garden to see how it had weathered the rain of the previous night. Across the path, strung between branches, was a beautiful diamond necklace. Well, not an actual necklace, nor one of diamonds either, but the effect was no less awe-inspiring.
During the night a spider had spun a delicate web strung with raindrops which, lit with the sun’s rays, was enchanting to behold. I was surprised the weight of the suspended water drops hadn’t destroyed the web. Remembering the incredible strength spider silk has, perhaps it wasn’t so surprising after all. I’m not sure what kind of spider was responsible because she wasn’t home at the time. I was hoping for a Golden Orb Spider because of the fascinating facts about them, but alas, the silk was not golden which is what sets the Golden Orb web apart.
My metaphor compass spins off its axis when I think of the insights offered by spiders and their webs. One thing I’ve learnt is how knowing more about the things we fear can dispel that fear or at least make it more manageable. Reading the children’s classic, Charlotte’s Web by E.B White to my children, gave us insight into life from another perspective. That this perspective was an imagined one did not lessen the impact it had on us. It offered up new ways of viewing the objects of old fears.
I was also reminded of the value of resilience when I inadvertently walked into the web completely destroying it, only to see it magically reappear the next day. Any rumours of squealing and frantic brushing of web from my hair are spurious.
We are all spinners of destiny, weaving desires and aspirations into the kind of life we want, sometimes to have our webs torn down. Like the spider, we must keep weaving.
So while I’m not making resolutions as such for this new year, I am resolving to confront my fears and strive to develop greater resilience; valuable attributes in this rapidly changing and challenging world of ours.
What about you?
Wishing every one of my gentle readers a happy and peaceful year ahead.