Posts Tagged ‘killing’

The presence of spiders

April 3, 2011

Arachnophobics beware. I am a big fan of spiders. I am, however, happy to love them and cheer them on from a distance.

Of all the insects, spiders are perhaps the most shy and prefer to have nothing to do with humans. If they venture into your house, they hide in dark, undisturbed places, spinning their tiny webs and nabbing other pesky insects. I once lived with what I will call a “fly spider.” He (or she, I never got close enough to check it out) lived on my ceilings and spun webs close to doorways trapping the flies who would zoom in as I came and went. Because the fly spider stayed on the ceiling and I stayed on the floor, we maintained an excellent relationship for over two years.

When I was about 10 years old, I invaded their world by creeping outdoors with my flashlight before dawn to explore what the world was like in the dark. Before you go freaking out imagining all sorts of dangers lurking in the shadows prepared to pounce upon me, know that I haven’t been 10 years old in at least 40 years and I lived on an army base. And I never went much further than my own back yard. I didn’t need to. I found the most spectacular spider webs carefully crafted between bushes and trees, with the creator nestled snugly in the center patiently waiting for that tremble signaling prey had landed. I would go back later in the day only to discover no traces of the web or the spider.

Knowing what I know about spiders, I was surprised when I saw one scuttling across the floor the other day during a yoga session. I was perfectly fine with allowing the spider to continue its way to its intended destination, but the man next to me was not. He screamed, jumped up, grabbed his shoe, and started pounding the spider, yelling the entire time, until it was nothing more than a pasty dark mass. Please understand we had the spider outnumbered. There were ten of us. It was the middle of the day with bright sunlight streaming through the windows. I think the spider was searching for some darkness (it found the ultimate darkness, that’s for sure). It certainly was not looking to attack any of us.

While that man was responding as many other people do when they see a spider, I now view him in a very different way than I did before I witnessed that event. I understand that people, when in the midst of their phobias, lose control of their responses. But, he could have chosen a different response. He could have moved away. Or, done nothing. The spider was going to bypass him. As he sat back down, he said “I hate spiders.” I want to say he acted out of his fear, but instead of acknowledging he was afraid, he could only acknowledge how his fear manifested – in the form of hate.

Some fears of getting bit by spiders are well-founded. The brown recluse and black widow are poisonous to humans. If a brown recluse or black widow take up residence in your home, feel free to escort them quickly outdoors or, in some cases, the next iteration of their existence. That is taking good care of you. Of course, if you really want to be magnanimous, you can leave the spider there and you can find a new home.

Just kidding.

This episode brought home to me how the world manifests its fear of others by telling ourselves we hate someone else and need to attack and kill them before they attack and kill us. Maybe the topic of fear should be the first thing discussed at peace negotiations.

©2011 by Barbara L. Kass