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The Spider

Rainbow Web
Creative Commons License photo credit: *clairity*

“The spider’s touch, how exquisitely fine! Feels at each thread, and lives along the line” – Alexander Pope

When I was in college I studied abroad my junior year.  At the University I was attending, grades for your courses were determined by one oral exam at the end of the semester.  There were no other assignments and, therefore, no other grades.  Your success or failure on the exam was your success or failure in the course.

During exams, I found myself in a situation where I had a couple of exams on back to back days which made studying for both a little difficult.  Like many other students, I had studied a little before the exam period, but really needed to catch up in the day or two before.

I had taken an exam earlier in the day, and was already exhausted from that.  Apart from the course grade resting on this one exam, it was an oral exam, which I wasn’t used to.  Not knowing something is one thing, but not knowing it when you are face to face with your professor trying to pass a course is another!

In the evening, I walked into the common kitchen of my building to take a short break and get a snack, dreading the upcoming night of studying and the exam I had to take first thing in the morning.  It felt like my problem was engulfing me and that the Universe itself had decided to sit on my shoulders.  My stress levels rose as I couldn’t seem to see anything but my problem ahead of me.

Then, as I stood by the window ruminating on my misery, I saw a spider.  A tiny one.  Just walking along the ledge of the window.  For a moment, I became preoccupied with the spider, and it felt good.

I watched it move its tiny legs along the sill, just moving along, doing what spiders do.  And, in that moment my “problem” seemed to regain its proper perspective and the Universe had retreated from the warm spot it found on my back.

That tiny spider helped me to see that the world existed outside of me and my problem.  And that everything has a proper place in the Universe.  Frankly, I had let my problems consume my life for a couple of days, and that’s why my stress levels were rising.

I realized that just as the spider was doing nothing other than being what it was, that all I also had to do what simply be what I was.  The spider neither knew nor cared about university exams, it knew only making webs, eating insects and walking along this window ledge.

In my world, being what I was, I had to take exams, but I didn’t have to let that consume me any more than the spider was allowing walking along the window sill to consume him.  It was simply a part of what he did.

I watched the spider for about 30 seconds, letting myself relax momentarily.  And I remembered that tomorrow the exam would be over and soon after that mostly forgotten.  I walked back to my room and opened my books again.  But the image of that spider walking the ledge stayed with me.

What do you think?  Share in the comments!

{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Positively Present June 11, 2009, 11:06 am

    What a great story! I think spiders are amazing (have you SEEN a web?! how do they DO that?!) and it’s so interesting that this one helped you. It just goes to show how, no matter how little we are, we all impact the world. Have you seen Horton Hears a Who…such a great movie!

    Positively Present’s last blog post..dip your toes into the moment

  • Cathy June 11, 2009, 1:39 pm

    I too let things consume me, to the point where I sometimes have to deal with panic attacks. I’m trying to learn to live more “in the moment”, sometimes with success, sometimes not. I’m still trying, though, and I’m getting better at doing what you’re doing – taking care of business and realizing that life will move on regardless of what you’re stressing over at the time.

    Cathy’s last blog post..Pondering self-imposed limitations

  • Amanda Linehan June 11, 2009, 8:31 pm

    Hi Dani – I think spider webs are fascinating. So brittle, yet so strong (and flexible too). And, yes, the small things can make quite a difference.

    Hi Cathy – Yeah, “taking care of business” is what its all about, and “business” will still be there in the morning. We don’t have to worry. 😉

  • Tess The Bold Life June 14, 2009, 10:36 pm

    Yesterday I was cleaning off the summer furniture at our cottage. The spider webs were so strong I couldn’t get them off with the force of the water of my hose. It’s remarkable how those tiny little creatures build homes that can’t be destroyed easily.

    Nature always brings me back to my higher self when I slow down enough to notice.
    .-= Tess The Bold Life´s last blog ..100 Unmaterialistic Joys for A Bold Life =-.

  • Roger June 15, 2009, 1:01 am

    It is so easy for us to get caught in our own self defeating web regarding the “importance” of the current task at hand. Nature gives us so many examples of how truly unimportant the stress we give ourselves regarding these tasks are in relation to the meaning we place on them.

    Thank you for the insightful message on how we need to maintain perspective when we begin to feel overwhelmed. I have been guilty of this more times than I want to admit and after all the gyrations, the sun still rises the next day.

    Namaste
    .-= Roger´s last blog ..Letting Go of Control =-.

  • Amanda Linehan June 15, 2009, 9:07 pm

    Hi Tess – Spider webs are interesting. In addition to their strength, I always enjoy when you can’t really see one unless the sunlight hits it a certain way. You don’t necessarily know it’s there until it comes into the light.

    Hi Roger – Nature always seems to remind me of proper perspective. Things always seem just fine when I step outside, in a way that they don’t when I’m caught up in the details.

  • Chania Girl June 16, 2009, 5:54 pm

    It’s a thing of synchronicity that you should post this (even if I am 6 days late in reading it :)). I’ve recently had a similar situation in my own life, being consumed and anxiety-ridden by something that I had given too large a place in my life. There was a point in the middle of all of my angst where I finally got some perspective and realized that letting go and relaxing were probably the best things I could do, and that “this too [would] pass.” What a relief that was!
    .-= Chania Girl´s last blog ..The Next Steps in the Journey … =-.

  • Amanda Linehan June 16, 2009, 9:26 pm

    Hi Chania Girl – It is a relief! I think this happens often, letting our problems get away from us. I’ve kept that spider in mind. 😉

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