LITTLE LESSONS LEARNED LATELY #1 No More Big Fears About Little Things

I was going to title this “Small Lessons Learned Lately” but didn’t want to miss out on that alliteration.

I had long posts started about my recent trip to England. If you read me regularly, though, you know my mind doesn’t work that way. I never tell anyone where we stopped, what we ate for lunch, who we saw or what we did.

It all comes back as little anecdotes and little lessons learned.

Here’s an example. One of the highlights of our trip was visiting an older couple in Wales, old family friends, on the Isle of Anglesey. This beautiful coastal trail is the northwest corner of the island where we hiked one day, and this view of the Snowdonia mountain range sort of looks like the view from their living room window. (You can see the mountain range on the mainland, from the island.)

Don and Barbara Roscoe are amazing people in many, many ways. But for the point of this “little lesson learned” today, I will share one.

In his 60’s, Don went back to college and received a doctorate’s degree in biology. His thesis (right term?) was on….spiders.

He showed me pictures of them in the Big Book of Very Scary-Looking Spiders, where they looked about a foot tall. But they are actually very very tiny spider, only about 1/4″ big. I can’t even remember the genus name of them (sorry, Don!), but they were beautiful.

Even with all those patterns and colors, Don said there are many, many different species, and they can look very similar. The only way to properly identify them is to carefully measure the length of their leg segments and determine the ratio of those lengths. Each species has its very own, very specific leg segment length ratio!

I was astounded, and entranced. It was as if a tiny world the size of a tack had expanded into another infinite universe. I paged through the book and marveled. The wealth of colors and patterning was astounding. I said, “I respect spiders, and I feel bad that I dislike them so much. In fact, I kinda feel sorry for them, with all the antipathy most people feel towards them.”

Don said, “Yes, it’s a pity, because if you ask people why they are afraid of spiders, they’ll say ‘oh, they bite!’ If you ask them how many times they’ve been bitten by a spider, they’ll say, ‘uh….never’ or ‘once’. Yet they get bitten by midges and mosquitoes thousands of times, and they aren’t afraid of midges and mosquitoes!”

Rats. Good point. I think about Charlotte’s Web, too.

Soon after our return, I went to an outdoor flea market. Sitting on a teacup is a very small, very ugly spider. “Look out for that spider, Mom!”, cries my daughter, and I get ready to smack it.

But I didn’t.

I looked at it, and I swear, it looked up at me. It was very stubby, and its eyes were huge. And it really seemed like it saw me.

My heart melted. I gingerly picked up the teacup, moved outside the tent, and gently blew the little fellow back to the safety of the grass.

I wrote Don about my experiences, and described the spider. “Sounds like a jumping spider”, he wrote back. “Totally harmless. And good for you for your change of heart!”

In fact, I think it might have been a daring jumping spider, a species known for being especially “friendly” towards humans. (I love the line where Valerie says, “Anyone familiar with jumping spiders has probably marveled at their perceptual abilities, which include watching and reacting to us as if a tiny spider and a medium sized mammal are on the same scale…..”)

In the last few days, I’ve found and released several very tiny spiders from my environs into the wild.

I’m not totally comfortable around these savage-looking creatures yet. And I haven’t seen a big one, which will be the ultimate test.

But I think the lesson is sticking: There are things to fear in life, and there are things we fear that are totally undeserving of that fear.

Like little spiders. And making changes. And taking chances.

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6 Comments

Filed under art, business, change, choices, life, taking chances

6 responses to “LITTLE LESSONS LEARNED LATELY #1 No More Big Fears About Little Things

  1. Hi Luann – Years ago a small spider took up residence in my bedroom in California. I named him Emmett. He just stayed up in a corner by the ceiling and spun his webs. I’d clean them up every couple of days and then he’d spin another one. This went on for quite some time – several months. Then one day I found him on the bed on my pillow. Enough! I caught him in a jar and took him outside. I sorta felt bad because I found out that house spiders don’t have a high survival rate outside. Vicki Hamilton

  2. Those spiders! Taking liberties again! :^)

  3. Being a big fan of Greek Mythology when I was younger, and falling in love with the myth of Aracne (sp?) I have always been friendly towards spiders, Frogs however have been a different story! My mother has a terrific fear of frogs (growing in in a french canadian family in maine, she would be brought frog leg hunting with her dad and uncles and they would de-leg the frog right in teh wamp and throw the bodies at her for fun..) I, thankfully never had that experience, but adopted her fear. It has only been recently that I have made myself stand, and then crouch and then get really close to frogs. THey aren’t so bad.
    Good for you and your spiders!

  4. I’ve always tried to be good to spiders, carrying them outside the house and all that. But I draw the line at black widows, which are quite abundant here.

  5. Now I know this may come as a bit of a jaw dropper to those who know North Wales weather, but I got my very first really bad case of sunburn at Penmon Point on Anglesey

    Then I got to research Pre Cambrian rocks on a field trip for my geology exam – on Newborough Warren on Anglesey – a wonderful place (plus I came home with my very first sea urchin!)

    And finally ….well maybe we’ll leave that bit.

    The thing is, anything you look at and any place you go to has a unique distinction for somebody

    It’s a bit like spiders. You think a spider is a spider and then you find out about the “bigger picture”

    Everywhere and everything has a bigger picture – and it’s great when we get to see just a little bit of it!

  6. Good lesson… thank you for sharing it… I’ll be more thoughtful about the next spider I see

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