Friday, June 27, 2008

A sudden, swift move~

I was young-- maybe 8 or 9-- when, while taking a bath, I allowed a spider to build a web from the wall to my arm. The spider was intent, single-minded, and even as a child I knew this spider was determined to build a web to capture food. I wanted to be part of its success. Its survival depended upon it . . . and on me, I'd thought. I remember wondering why it chose such a barren landscape as our tub, and such an insubstantial anchor as me. Didn't it know? Couldn't it see?

I was fascinated, and somewhat horrified, to realize that I was allowing a spider to use my body as a connecting point for its web. That was a responsibility I couldn't live up to, and when my father knocked on the door and said, "Time for bed. Let the water out," I yanked my arm hard and the spider scurried away. I tried not to think about it as I crawled into bed.

Decades later, I hesitated for a few seconds before ruining a web a spider had built from the lamp post beside the driveway to my truck's door. I had to get to work. But it bothered me to ruin the hard work of this arachnid with a sudden, swift move it hadn't bargained for. By now I knew the strength of gossamer was five times stronger than a steel fiber of the same size. The web had strength, but I had greater force on my side. The next morning, the spider had rebuilt. And again I applied my force. Didn't it know? Couldn't it see?

Lately the news is full of the devastation of peoples' homes-- tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, fire . . . sudden, swift moves. Like spiders, people build homes trusting they'll endure, trusting in their strength. But they don't endure, not always. And I think of the spider, its determination, its desire to survive.

The fragility of humans is on a par with the spider, I think. There are forces larger than our strengths. We feel in charge; we use our brains. We and plan, and consider, but yet, all it takes is a sudden, swift move. We think it won't happen, but it does. Not always, but enough to show our vulnerability. Don't we know? Can't we see?

We see, but somethings are bigger than us. So it becomes a matter of determination, a desire to survive. And that we humans have. Like all of nature.
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”~Winston Churchill


Janice Thomson said...

I remember learning the meaning of the word determination in the very same way too. It was at that point I looked to nature for some of the deeper answers in life. I was never disappointed.
I so enjoyed how this post was written.

sc morgan said...

Hi Ruth. I love the thought behind this post, the similarity we have with "lesser forms" of life. I often wonder about people building in flood plains or in tornado alleys. Here in Costa Rica it is said, "Never build your house at the bottom of a hill or next to a river," and yet I see those houses all the time. I'm never sure if it's determination or some less admirable trait that makes humans do what they do, but I loved this post. Send this one out somewhere; it's very good.

Alice Folkart said...

I suspected that you and I had a lot in common.

But, that's beside the point - I think you could find a publisher for this. Would fit beautifully into certain kinds of magazines...

Lovely writing and thinking.

Naturegirl said...

Nature treaches us so much if we just stop and pay attention as you did with the web.I too am always in awe when I come upon a spider web.
Wonderful writing!

Barbara said...

I suppose those who chose to rebuild in New Orleans are just a little like your spider.

Belladonna said...


Your post took me in different directions...applying your spider analogy to relationship rather than structures. We may cast out our trust and hope only to have our efforts towards loving alliance dashed to bits my factors outside our control. When friendhships, family or lovers break my heart will I withdraw or be like the spider - venturing out again and again however many times it takes until I either succeed or die trying? More than determination the words that comes to my mind are TENACITY and RESILIENCE. At what point is it admirable and at what point is it folly?

Anyway - however the analogy is used, great word pictures. Your stuff just keeps getting better and better. I am betting that now that you don't have the day job to take your time and energy your craft of writing is going to grow by leaps and bounds and I'm excited to watch it develop.

Blessings, friend.

magiceye said...

beautifully put! wonderful analogy!

Greg C said...

Nice comparison. It always amazes me to see such small creatures with such big determination but then aren't we all small creatures. Great post.

Wanda said...

I agree this is wonderful writing, and nothing is better than a personal story. You certainly could have it published.

In the meantime, please just keep posting for us...I never tire of what you share.


Gary said...

Christian Science Monitor called me and said "Tell Ruth to tidy this up and send it our way." That was right after the Washington Post called. Ask Dawn for the name of the "Styles" editor. Or for the name of the "Lives" editor at the NYTIMES.

Tere said...

I love your writing, this was especially good. Really made me think and relate this to a number of things. That's what good writing does.

leslie said...

Excellent thoughts but aren't you being a bit serious for someone who has just finished so many years of hard work? You should be relaxing, my dear! lol How is it going so far in retirement? :D