The Spider: A Story About Perspective
A little spider got into my car the other day. I realized it when I headed out to do errands in the morning and as the sunlight streamed through my car’s front window I saw an elaborate web had been woven on the passenger’s side of my car’s dashboard.
My initial reaction was revulsion. I’m not afraid of spiders but they do not belong in my car! I studied the neatly constructed web, looking for the spider, but couldn’t see it. It was a fascinating web with runners out onto the dash and up at least six inches to several points on the window. I found I couldn’t help but marvel at the work the spider had done overnight, even as I wanted to stop the car, find the spider, and remove both it and its web.
As I continued to drive to my first stop, I initially thought about removing the web once I found a place to park but then my thoughts roamed wider into that curious place within me that is open to considering life from others’ viewpoints.
We’d had a recent cold snap. The spider had done what many little critters do this time of year and found a warm place inside my car. Once there, it had set up shop, building its web to catch dinner then hiding in wait. Little did this spider know that inside my car there would be no free-flying bugs, no wind, no rain, and that eventually - should the spider have been left to stay in my car - it would starve to death. But the spider, oblivious to all of this, was doing what it was created to do. It had no idea it was now trapped. It had no idea that its best chance for survival would be to have never gotten into my car in the first place, or having found itself there, to flee to the outside world again. This spider’s plan was a futile one, no matter how elaborate its web.
I wonder how often we as humans proceed with futile plans? How often do we do what we have done in the past because it is what we know to do, because we don’t know anything else to try? We spin our webs and wait for insects when none are going to come. Perhaps our best chance of survival would be to get out of the situation we find ourselves in rather than to set up shop like that little spider, waiting for what will never come to pass. But we can’t see that. We are in the middle of working to survive and we just can’t see the big picture.
I could see the spider’s dilemma so I brushed away the web, which after all did contain the spider. It will now have to create a new life in the trees and grass at the edge of the Home Depot parking lot. And being a therapist, I couldn’t help but smile as I did so. Sometimes we just need someone else with a broader perspective, someone who stands outside of our situation to show us that there’s a better world outside the place we now find ourselves. We can’t expect to know other better places exist for us if we’ve never experienced them. Or if we haven’t been in a good place for a while. When you are working to survive, it’s hard to stand back and see that what you really need is a way out. A new perspective.
I helped that spider gain a whole new world for itself. It can build a nice web in a leafy tree and although real life outside my car does come with certain risks, that spider now has a chance at living the rest of the life it was truly meant to live. And that’s something we all deserve.
- Autumn Starks, LCSW (about)
Founder and Psychotherapist, Starks Therapy Group
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