Monday, November 09, 2009

Spiders or terrorists.........

Atrax robustus  Sydney Funnel-web SpiderImage via Wikipedia

Killing a spider but not a slug? Oh, you're thinking I've really gone batty now - hold on, hold on! If you were here at the MindSieve last week, you'll have seen my last and perhaps my original post on slugs - ewww! I suspect this reflection may be the last (one can hope) of the overworked discussion of small, slimy creatures (def. terrestrial gastropod mollusks/no shell) who are only interested in eating what one has freshly planted in one's garden. I mean we're on the same page with the invertebrate at the moment - as wouldn't you like to eat all the goodies now that come from your own special garden? O.k. digression.....

So I won't kill the slug but the large very black, sinister looking spider in my bathroom this a.m. was undeniably doomed when I spotted it. No, I don't know that it was a black widow and no, I didn't stop to look at it and have it look at me, I just grabbed a nearby sock, got lucky on the first swipe and sent the spider to a swirling, flushing death.....sans the sock, of course.

So what's the difference? I have some history with the spider sect (or is that insect - ahem arachnid, please) having "invaded" my territory, with the ability to inflict harm - I've experienced spider bites before and I get a huge red swelled area at bite site. Not fun! The slug, in a forest, not bothering me.....the slug in my garden or hostas.....they can inflict some damage there but they seem less offensive to me on neutral ground, i.e., outside.

But there's a greater metaphor at work here isn't there when viewing one's encounters with the other? The others we encounter in life, in the neighborhood, in the world are measurably larger than an arachnid or mollusk.....but the questions do similarly emerge. Are they friendly, will they bite (or shoot), will they set up housekeeping in a place I consider "not theirs?" And is the place really not theirs? Will they eat too much, not tend their yards, let their children run wild in the neighborhood? Do I fear them because I do know them or because I don't know them? Am I willing to get to know them or am I too busy to do that? Do I prefer to do away with them or ignore them in favor of my own superior ideas and needs? Hmmm, into the extreme, do I send others, preferably others that I do not know personally, off to war in my place just because I don't like what the others are doing to each other? Oh, I think you get the picture.......

Arachnids - familiarly called spiders when they're in our bathrooms, mollusks - familiarly called slugs when they're in our lettuce, Palestinians - familiarly called terrorists when they try to cross one of their own borders, freedom fighters when others are doing what we want them to do, and terrorists when they're not doing what we want them to do..........oh, this may be a stretch of my imagination but is my imagination so off target? I'm sure you'll let me know.

Photo from Wikipedia - File:Victorian funnelweb.jpg
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  1. I might just mention that when I clicked onto your blog with that spider photograph, I nearly jumped off my chair...!!

  2. This is excellent. I'm grateful to have found another soul who connects things in this way.

    I will admit that, for me, the grossness factor comes into it. As in, it's easier for me to kill a spider because it won't squish and slop the way a slug will. It's clean and quick to kill a spider.

    Which, thanks to your excellent metaphor about the "other," makes me apply this to my relations with other humans.

    I will probably take this in other directions later, but right now what strikes me is how many times I've let someone who's not good for me linger around in my life because it would be too messy to remove them from it.

  3. the metaphorical thinking here is fabulous and i realize yet another - it would be MUCH easier for me to expound on my current battle with fruit flies rather than the war in - the middle east - downtown seattle - my own home - fill-in-the-blank.

    i come back to the idea, however, that if we look someone or something in the eye, it is easier to gain understanding or compassion. when we learn the story behind the "other" it makes it harder (usually) to point a finger or a gun...

    oh, it is so much easier to talk abstractly, isn't it? so, my mind drifts back to fruit flies. i do NOT look them in the eye. i slap my hands together as quickly as i can and scream with glee "got 'em!" they are not too messy or too big, but they are horribly pesky which eases my conscience a bit.

    thought-provoking stuff. you may still have to put a slug in your masthead if you keep this up!


  4. Tess,
    I jump every time I open this post to answer someone. This spider actually gave me the creeps even as I went back to edit the post......he looks big enough for a large trap rather than a sock or paper swat! I think your reaction might be universal:)

    Last night with friends a bug was exterminated in front of me by the host and when he looked at my face he asked, "Are you all right? Don't tell me you didn't want me to kill that thing!" Well, frankly I had been flicking the little box elder bug in all different directions for the evening, hoping I would not have to "do the deed" myself! (I did see the bug literally look up as the squish came upon him....that eye to eye thing really gets me. The conversation then turned to gophers, snails, slugs, and mice - oh and there was talk of the dreaded Flicker's extermination! So, I really would save myself a lot of aggravation if I just got over the annihilation of creatures small and troublesome. (I must say I do the fruit flies sort of without guilt....)

    The greater conversation though for me truly focuses on human relationships and facing one another is critical for understanding and sometimes a peaceful coexistence of those with whom we may not agree.

    Lucy and Tess, As always, thanks for your devoted readership and comments:)

    P.S. Tess, The last few comments you received on your "grieving post" were wonderful. I'm so glad to have engaged in that discussion w/you, Lucy, and so many others!


  5. Pollinatrix,

    The grossness thing is a factor isn't it - although that eye to eye thing....

    Your response about my metaphor toward human relationships and your take on allowing "draining" relationships to linger rather than going through the trouble of severing them is so true. I've sort of come to a point in my life that I try to be sensible and cut those ties when necessary w/o too much looking back.

    I'm so glad to receive your input. I look forward to seeing you again here at the MindSieve!

  6. SS, My thoughts are echoing Pollinatrix a little bit, I believe. As I drove my kids to school this morning, all of the news on the radio was about the Fort Hood shooting and the muslim man who did the shooting. We do not know yet whether his religious views had anything to do with the shooting but we do know that his actions are going to create more trouble and suspicions for those muslims living among us and that many people's immediate assumptions will be that we can't trust any of them.
    I either choose or allow myself to live with. I cannot be perfectly safe. Do I risk letting the spider live and possibly suffer because of that choice? Do I stay in the difficult relationship because it may eventually be life giving? What is helpful what is harmful? Not just for me, but for my family, my community, my world?


  7. Hi Rebecca -
    Thanks for your thoughtful consideration and analysis of how viewing the "other" impacts our daily living. I don't know that we can ever come to a conclusion on what is "right" but I believe that I need to continue reflecting upon the world as a "whole" creation and how our behavior in it eithers makes it a better place or a worse to inhabit.


  8. SS, Yes, I see those thoughts and questions in today's post. If enough of us keep thinking this way, we will change. After I typed that, I realized that "thinking" this way is not enough, huh?

  9. My online book group is reading Gerald May's "The Wisdom of Wilderness". Our discussion yesterday was about the sixth chapter, on violence. I included a post on my blog about it.

    I enjoyed reading your post and liked how you tied in your thoughts about "the other". Im stilling mulling your conclusion, though.

    I do have to tell you that my son, who is at NYU, keeps a spider. The "relationship" he has with it is not one I thought might exist in Nature because of the spider's nature. I continue to learn, however, how deceiving appearances can be, how wrong assumptions are, when they are too encompassing or overly broad.

    Keep writing. I like how your imagination works.

  10. I like the direction that Rebecca went with this. The questions of where to draw the line, of freedom vs. safety, keep coming up around me.

    I think it's when we try to make hard-edged rules about these things that we get into trouble. At least, for me.

    It's not easy or "safe" to develop a moment by moment mindfulness and trust in listening to the spirit within, but I think it's the most life-affirming way to greet each individual circumstance in which we must decide how to deal with another being.