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Spidering Spiders

mturer's picture

                Today inside the tree, there are spiders everywhere. I mean it. Crawling and hanging from branches, the spiders have taken over the tree. At first, I thought this was excellent. There are so many different species of little creatures scuttling and skipping around on quick legs, coexisting and interacting with each other, that our human idea of “diversity” looks boring by comparison. Imagine if humans could create intricate cities out of material produced from our own bodies with the help of other humanoid creatures that are twice or half our size. Spiders are great. Maybe we’re not as advanced as we think we are, in some ways. We can’t even handle difference within our own species, so we would probably handle coexisting with another species like us very poorly.

What is happening in the tree? Is it spidering? Is it crawling, weaving, or living? These creatures do too much in their complicated lives to be simplified to a word like this. It isn’t fair to them. No writing is fair to them. Only a spider can really constitute a spider. A word about a spider doesn’t really mean much.

                Last week, I was afraid that I took over the tree because I interrupted a spider. I didn’t. This tree was never mine at all. This tree never belongs to anyone, obviously, but the spiders have the most claim to it. I mentioned earlier that I enjoyed seeing the tree turned into a little spider city “at first.” Eventually I became less glad about this. I noticed a very large and very dangerous-looking shiny black spider occupying itself with something on one of the branches in my line of vision. It did not seem friendly. The first impulse of my glitchy human brain was to just leave immediately and abandon my observations, which I didn’t do. My second impulse was to look at it, and to keep looking at it, like it would attack me if I blinked or turned away. After a while of staring at the uninterested spider, I realized it had a lot of better things to do than attacking another random animal that is doing no more than looking at it. Then, like the daddy long legs passed around in class, I started to become more familiar with its habits and movements the more I observed it, making me less apprehensive. The strangest part of this is that I’m not even afraid of spiders. I actually like spiders. I used to pick them up and name them when I was little. I found one I had never seen before that looked pretty intimidating and had a dramatic fight-or-flight response because it might be able to hurt me. Like I couldn’t outrun it or survive a spider bite if I had to, and like the danger it posed to me was more important than anything else about it.
                So, nature observation time quickly became spider admiration time. It is windy out today and the combination of the sound of breeze rustling the hemlock’s branches and the view of at least eight different spiders of varying colors I can find instantly moving noiselessly over the ground and tree was calming me at the end of a busy week of classes. I am not sure why, because the world of spiders and insects is anything but calm. I once heard that the world of small creatures is the cruelest, most violent, and most unforgiving environment on Earth, and that it is often overlooked by us because the spiders and insects do not have the consciousness to feel tormented. I am so large and powerful that I can immerse myself in this environment and feel “calm,” and I have begun to feel very silly for fearing that shiny black spider.



hirakismail's picture

I really liked the verb you

I really liked the verb you created: spidering. Huh, I'm going to think about that one for a while. What you say about the scary spider being disinterested in you got me thinking. Here we are, spending time observing nature, while the other organisms in it are almost ignoring us. They are going about their business, that spider might have had "better" things to think about, so it didn't pay attention to you, more worried about its next meal perhaps, or where it needs to go next. I also like what you said about the tree not belonging to anyone. Perhaps it belongs to everyone who takes comfort from it? Especially the spiders, as you say :)