Lessons From a Spider


I have a large patio that runs the length of my condo and I can get to it from my bedroom or living room glass sliders. It also allows a great deal of light to come in. The patio is the number one reason I wanted to live in this complex, along with the many trees and over-all quiet. I was sitting outside in my patio yesterday and noticed a spider busy making an intricate web. I watched him for quite a while.

Today, I went back outside to find the spider sitting in the middle of its new home, waiting patiently for an unsuspecting insect to get caught in its web, soon to become the spider’s meal.

I checked back on the spider a few minutes ago to see if it caught anything yet. The web looked empty and the spider seemed to be sitting in the same place… waiting…patiently waiting. It made me think about how many times I am impatient, wanting things to go “my way” instantly — after all, I am part of the “instant gratification” era. We want and are used to having things done right now and if it doesn’t happen that way — watch out!

How often have you observed people waiting in line at a grocery store when there is a long line and many “empty” check-out counters? Have you noticed them fidgeting, seeming to get impatient, when they are realistically only waiting, maybe 5 minutes? Have you been guilty of feeling impatient or even gone in search of someone to open up more check-out lanes? I admit I am guilty of that behavior in the past.

After I got well from cancer, I began reading books on Zen Buddhism. I felt a connection to that philosophy –I know many believe it to be a religion, but that is debatable and since I have an aversion to the word “religion”, I choose to see it as a philosophy — I think I am attracted to Zen Buddhism because many teachings are about living in the “now” and cancer has taught me that lesson as well. I have always been careful about not harming other creatures — great and small, including ants. My son has many funny (at least he thinks so) stories about me taking out ants one-by-one and putting them outside. I also catch spiders in plastic cups and put them outside; hubby likes to tell me that I am catching the same spider over and over because it looks like the same one sitting in the plastic cup. Who knows? He could be right.

Another lesson I am learning from reading Zen Buddhism writings is patience. Watching that spider is a good reminder of that lesson. Does it concern itself with how long it must wait for an insect to get caught in its web? I doubt it. I am not even sure if it is aware of time; it is what it is. The spider knows that eventually the hours of work it put in to making its web will pay off and it will enjoy a nice meal.

Cancer also tried to teach me patience, although while I was in the midst of my illness, I didn’t see it that way. I was sick and I was miserable and wanted to be well like … now! I hear the same complaint from patients I visit. They want to get well and go on with their lives…some want to go back to their “old” way of life and forget about being sick; others seem to be reborn and want to live a new life. I fall into the second camp. Having cancer changed me forever. I can never go back to my old way of living or even thinking. I know too much and I see this as a good thing. Being aware of who I am and my shortcomings is not something I gave a great of thought to in the past, mainly because I was caught up in “life”. I now find myself spending time observing myself and those around me.

I am certainly not saying that I am a master of patience…not by a long shot, but I think my awareness of it is a good start.



1 thought on “Lessons From a Spider

  1. Pingback: Life is Like a Cruise Ship: Why Patience is a Virtue! | rohan7things

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