The Reflection

Yesterday, I killed a spider in the upstairs bathroom. It had spun a web between the medicine cabinet and a corner, the walls papered in an antique map of the world. I have no idea what kind it was or how it found its way into my home. It was just there, patient in a centered existence, waiting for food to fly by.

I squashed it with a strand of toilet paper gripped between my thumb and forefinger. I felt its body flatten, succumb. Then, I dropped it in the clear toilet water and left it floating on the surface rolled in fetal spider form. I didn’t think about it or my actions. I didn’t flush, either. My only passing thought was about Doug and his allergic reactions to spider bites.

This morning, I listened to country singer Alison Krause sing Jubilee. I replayed that song over twenty times, listened in tears, listened in pain, just listened until the words flowed through my bloodstream. I cried over Wild Ones and what the National officers did to me. I cried over the lose of friendships. I cried over the loss of my dreams. I cried over perceived betrayals by people I categorized as family, people I cared and fought for in the same intense way I do for my biological family. I played that tune for over two hours.

Later, as I towel-dried my hair while bent at the waist, it occurred to me that I’m no different than the people I condemn for destroying and not protecting the Niagara Gorge Rim. I condemned them for not understanding the value of ecological protection, the revitalization benefits that could be gained ecologically, economically, socially, and atheistically. I judged them, found them wanting, viewed them as uninformed and ignorant of a greater sense: Nature. Purpose. Place. Biological Integrity. The Bigger Picture. And, what those words mean. I pulled the towel off my tousled hair, added a styling, straightening mousse, and saw myself, a reflection in the mirror.

I could have protected the spider. I didn’t. I could have transplanted it, could have made a different choice, could have recognized the spider’s value and moved it outside. I didn’t. I regret my arrogance, my actions. I am flushed at my ignorance, my self-importance.

About fragmentsandthoughts

A one-generation-off-the boat demi-Sicilian.
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8 Responses to The Reflection

  1. Vivienne says:

    Michelle, this is really powerful. When my brother became a Buddhist, and stopped killing insects, even flies, it made me realise how much of the killing that we do is incidental. Something is inconvenient so we kill it. We have pheromone traps for clothes moths in our bedroom as I write this, trapping the males to a slow death. So much of it is about attention, just wondering if we really need to do what we’re about to do. And also about forgiveness, firstly of ourselves for all our failings and errors, because without this, how can we possibly move on to forgive anyone else? Thank you for this.

  2. Dianne says:

    Yes, Michelle, that additional thoughtfulness. I find myself more attuned to it having read pieces that you and Vivienne have written.

  3. Until recently I have shown no mercy to blowflies – the only creature I have been able to kill without any regret. I cannot recall a reason for my sudden change of heart. For a long time I have patiently transferred spiders from the house, telling them that they are really most suited to the outdoors. Now I spare blowflies as well. Thank you for sharing your piece.

  4. woodnymph says:

    I have, to my knowledge, never killed anything. As for insects I capture them and take them outside to deposit them safely on a bush. They have never indicated to me their appreciation but I’m sure that in the scheme of things they are happy to live for yet another day, week, or for whatever natural lifespan they have left. It is my belief that every creature, no matter how large or small has a purpose. It’s not for me to deny them that purpose.


  5. Pelican1 says:

    I agree. You need to forgive yourself. This was a teachable moment and you learned a valuable lesson.

  6. Sally says:

    It is a painful but beautiful epiphany. I follow Buddhism (not exclusively) and understand. I must admit to still crossing that line having stomped on a cockroach outside on the concrete just the other night. But the spiders and I have come to terms. I had a talk with them with full intention they would understand and cooperate. I drew a horizontal line high on the wall and told them that crossing that line would indicate they wanted to go outside. But there is one type that doesn’t want to compromise and it bites. When I have the insect vacuum handy I use it. But sometimes I have to defend myself. Thank you for sharing such a tender, if not vulnerable, moment.

  7. imogen88 says:

    A moving piece of writing on the complexity of life.

  8. imogen88 says:

    Love the header, BTW.

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