by Anna Arnett
The other day as I prepared to get into the shower, a little black spider moved purposefully across the white rim of my bathtub. Now, I'm not against spiders in general, but sharing my bath with one seemed a little much, so I grabbed at a washcloth and attempted to scoop it up. I thought I had succeeded, for the porcelain lay bare and shining, but when I opened the cloth, it was also pristine. This wily spider had simply disappeared. Yet, a hand towel lay in the corner, and I gingerly lifted and opened it. There was the same spider, climbing steadily up the towel.
Okay, I thought, I'll drown him out by simply turning the water on full blast and holding the towel underneath. Still, every time I checked, the plucky spider still clung to the towel, and forged on up, though having been forced downward considerably. After the third or fourth time, my aversion turned to awe. That brave little spider deserved to live. I placed the towel gently toward the back of the tub, expecting the spider to move. But it did not. After all that resistance and difficult work, my spider had given up and died. Somehow, I felt a twinge of loss, bordering on feeling bereft. If only that small spider had managed to hold on another second or two.
How often, I thought, have I put in hours, days, months, and even years on some project or other, only to give up before I'd completed and polished it? How much of my writing is just a few hours away from submission? Was it King Alfred who got his inspiration from watching a spider work endlessly to swing its web high enough to catch the aimed-for crag? Perhaps my empathy for the spider may yet bring me to work with more tenacity, and know the joy of not only submission, but also acceptance and fulfillment.
By the way, my family is helping me celebrate my 84th birthday anniversary this Saturday. I'm pleased and rather proud to acknowledge every year I've managed to keep breathing. I'm also chagrinned that I have not accomplished more--or rather, completed more. But there's hope for another year, during which I might continue learning from such lowly things as spiders, and simply keep hanging in there.