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Published: June 10th 2017
Geo: 11.6724, 105.425
The room I sleep in at Wat Opot is full of living beings besides myself. There are the erratic geckos, singing out their funny "Gecko! Gecko! Gecko!" And there are the quiet frogs, quiet, that is, until you hear a fairly substantial PLOP as they jump and land somewhere unexpected. There are also the friendly little crickets who sometimes come in to visit, and hop around seemingly very excited about something we don't understand. Flying things are usually only temporary visitors, as is the cat who feels very comfortable sitting in my chair, waiting for some companionship and/or more food. But the large black spiders continued to be the beings I liked least in my room, except until today.
Every evening when I open the door and first turn on the light, I look around to check to see who is home. A gecko here, a couple frogs there, no cat; uh-oh, there's a six inch spider sitting right in the middle of the floor! S/he'll have to move because that is the main walkway, and s/he is totally disturbing my peace of mind. I blew at it; usually that works, but not on this night. S/he just sat there. I wiggled my foot at it; nope, that didn't work either. I had to do something to get that spider to move somewhere more concealing, and, of course, out of the area where I usually walk. I rattled the door, hoping the noise would cause it to move, but it was very stubborn this particular night. So, being a little angry now, and a little scared (scared of something one-thousandth of my size, one ten-thousandth!), I picked up my shoe and threw it at the spider!
My aim was good; the spider disappeared. Where was he now? Where did he go? I couldn't see him anywhere, not under the bed, not hiding in the shadows. But, oh, did I kill him? I had never intended to kill it! I felt horrible. Maybe s/he had been sitting there trying to communicate with me on some level, trying to be friendly, offering interspecies friendship, trying to help me get over my aversion to spiders. And what did I do? I threw a shoe at it! Oh, this was truly terrible. All I wanted now was to see this spider alive again! How comical, to go from disliking it and wanting it gone, to my needing to see it, happily sitting or crawling in our room.
Was the spider brave to sit there, exposing itself to me like that? Was it offering friendship? Benign cohabitation? How do spiders think? What, actually, do they see? My friends all laughed at me when I told them my shameful spider story, but I was miserable thinking I had killed it. Every time I went in my room after that I looked everywhere, under the bed, behind the door, on the windows, up the walls, on the ceiling, everywhere, but no spider appeared. I just wanted to see it again. I was very upset, and missed his presence.
This situation reminded me of long ago when my youngest brother, Paul, was a little boy and smashed a ladybug one summer day; he realized what he had done and cried as if his heart would break. One minute the ladybug was living, and the next he just squashed it to death. Such permanence, at his own hand, by his own volition. Just like what I had done? Terrible, misused, bully strength.
Two nights after I had thrown my shoe at the fearless spider, I returned to my room, and there on the floor, near the fan, over by the window, out of the way, s/he was sitting. HappinessI I felt joy at seeing it there, an opposite emotion to how I used to react to seeing large spiders! What a transformation of feeling and thought! What a relief, and a lesson learned. This time I did nothing to try to make it move; so long as it was not in my bed or crawling on me, it could stay wherever it chose. The spiders were here before me, and this will be their room long after I leave; I just hope their next roommates are more compassionate and less fearful of large spiders. Finally I learned to truly cohabit our space. I never want to be a bully again.
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