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As a writer, I’m often looking for—and stumbling upon—metaphors and life lessons.
Such as the case recently where, after a long day, I retired to my favorite place—deeply sunk into a tub of bubbles with a glass of wine in one hand and my Kindle in the other.
It was a glorious retreat from real life into the characters monopolizing the pages of my e-reader.
All was well until a little dot in the water caught my attention.
Beside my arm, a tiny little spider floated by.
The poor thing was certainly dead, swallowed up by the vast gallons upon gallons of water in which I splashed.
I’m a sucker for animals—yes, spiders included—and spend more time catching and releasing creepy-crawlies than reflexively smooshing them.
The little spider, however, was an innocent casualty. Stet happens, but I hadn’t meant to kill the little guy (or gal).
Carefully I scooped the lifeless creature from the water and placed it on the edge of the tub. My karma count was inching backward, so I placed a gentle breath across its legs to blow away the water.
It was motionless—quite dead.
I went back to reading my book, planning to dispose of the little creature when I finished my escape from reality, which had suddenly become exactly from which I was trying to retreat.
After finishing my bath, I thought about tossing out that spider, but for some reason I couldn’t.
I wondered if spiders have some super-special way of protecting themselves from these types of dangers. Surely, that itsy bitsy spider didn’t drown all the times it climbed up the waterspout.
I thought about Googling it and set off to do so before I got distracted with other life things. A few hours later I returned to the bathroom and peered at the spider. To my surprise, one little leg wiggled. I knelt down and blew across it.
It lifted one little leg to the air, half waving to me. Nature was winning out, so I left it there to recover.
Hours later I came back and that once-motionless spider was up on its legs, trying to crawl away.
What now? Toss it outside and let it fend for itself? Surely it was too weak to fight with the rest of nature; it had just won a great battle with itself.
I gingerly scooped the spider on a piece of plastic and placed it in a decorative bowl on the side of the tub. My intention was to let it recuperate, and when it was well I would put it outside.
After a few days I spotted the tiny spider again crawling across the edge of the tub. I meant to go ahead and catch it then, but I was charmed by its determination.
Instead, I shared the life lesson with some friends, adding at the end… “I hope the next time I’m drowning, someone is patient and kind until I get on my feet again.”
My karma pot, I was quite certain, was about to spill over with goodness.
Each morning after I felt like a kindred spirit with that spider as it made its way around the edge of the tub.
How lucky, I thought, my human hand spared that tiny little spider. What a life.
This morning after giving the spider my now routine nod, I retreated to my closet to pick out the day’s outfit.
And then—a loud *thump*.
And I knew. I just knew.
I dashed back out into the bathroom, just in time to catch the top of my cat Periwinkle’s tail dashing back and forth from inside the tub.
What a happy, purring kitten she was.
I couldn’t bear to look; this was definitely a case of nature, not nurture, playing out.
Before I could squeal out, Peri extended her paw and in a swift motion, wrapped herself around that tiny spider.
She popped it straight into her mouth.
She chewed a little. She moved her tongue around. And then, she swallowed and proceeded to lick her paw. Oh, how pleased she was to triumph over this tiny invasive creature that dared to enter her world.
Well, honestly, all I could do is laugh.
It seems, really, we do live in a cat-eat-spider world.
Expect the unexpected.
It’s not as poetic, but it’s a great life lesson as well.