Look at this photo (aka internet meme):
You looked away too fast. So, please, now look at it again. I’ll wait.
For at least half of the people reading this, more than half of the people I know in real life, that is a truly horrific scene. Spiders, they are all eight-legs of terror for some folks.
Now check out this photo:
That’s the European Garden Spider (aka Cross Spider) that’s been hanging out near my back patio. I’ve nicknamed her appropriately. Charlotte, as she’s in the Orb Weaver family and spins a new web each and every day. As I go out my patio door to let the dog out, get some fresh air, or tend to my crops, there she is. Working away. My husband has taken to calling the critter my pet spider. In a way, I suppose she is. She’s gone through the whole growing season with me, a daily reminder of the season and again, the impermanence of everything.
One day, she decided to go to the south side of our patio and spin a huge web higher up and see what else she might get. I didn’t realize that initially and was all shocked and a little bummed when she wasn’t in her normal spot, keeping the flies and other nastiness out of my home. I thought perhaps some bird had come by and gobbled her up or something like that, or she just met her end of time. Then I looked up, much like Wilbur the pig, and caught the glint of spider’s silk near the lattice work. The next day, it was if she understood my distress that she was gone – or the hunting wasn’t so hot – and she came back to her traditional territory.
My weird attachment to this spider this growing season, noted by my husband and kids, and even remarked about on my social media sites when I shared her photo, made me start thinking about fear. That word has been so misused and given too much power in the last few decades of my life. (I won’t get into the whole American political arena that has been using fear as an oppressive device for my whole life; I’m not focusing on that – right now – this is supposed to be more personal anyways.) When I took the leap from corporate slave to freelance writer/artist, I kept telling myself to kill my fear. I recited the litany against fear from Dune, “I must not fear. Fear is the mind killer…” I started examining what I was truly fearful of and wrestling those fears in my writing, in my happiness project, and in all areas of my existence. It’s been an enlightening journey, to say the least.
The most important thing that I learned was that fear is a matter of perception. Spiders may scare the bejeesus out of you, but I find them interesting (especially when their keeping nasties out of my house and I’m not naked in the shower). My fear might be something that you find intriguing or natural. It’s all perspective. When I turn my perspective on its ear, I find some common ground – as I did when I was working on killing some physical fears last month. Like I told myself that at my age, Elvis was dead. So, if I’m jogging, or heck, even walking, I’m doing good; I’m healthier. When you shift the angle of what you’re looking at, especially when it’s something you are afraid of, it has the power to allow you to become unafraid. In short, to kill your fear. It’s freeing. It’s empowering.
Just as I was musing about that silently in my head doing chores in my kitchen, my 15-year-old daughter came to me about something that she wrote. She said, “I am not going to be afraid of spiders any more.” This is what she showed me:
“Spiders cannot run for extended periods of time because they have asthma. All spiders are nerds. Even tarantulas. Have you ever seen a spider dating a hottie with a supermodel body? I doubt it. Spider flashing his cash in the club? Nope. Spider pulling up beside you at the light in a Lamborghini? Never happened. They’ve got so many eyes because they love reading. Nerds. All o f them.”
I giggled. And she said, “Yeah, spiders are nerds. They’re alright with me.”
From the mouth of babes, as they say.
I have another angle for you, just in case you’re still scratching your head and feeling all icky:
Please look at it again. Really look at it.
It’s fabulous isn’t it? Such detail. Such utter brilliance. She’s quite the nerd, eh?