My spider

I was read a story years ago about a man who goes walking along a river’s edge. As he’s walking, he encounters a spider, which appears to be drowning. He picks up the spider and carries it to safety, and while he does this, the spider bites him, and makes him very sick with it’s venom. After some time, he goes walking along the same river’s edge, and he comes across the drowning spider once again. As he reaches down to carry it to safety, the spider bites him again, and the man becomes very ill from it’s venom. As the story goes, the man does this several more times until the spider finally spoke. He asked the man, “Why on earth do you continue to pick me up and carry me to safety when you know I will bite you, for I will always bite you, that’s what I do?” With no thought at all, the man replied, “Because that’s what I do.”

I think about this story often. I remember the first time I heard it and how profoundly it affected me. It came to me at a vulnerable time, when it seemed the spiders of the world were “biting” me. And it reminds me that the way I choose to live my life should not, nor does not, depend on the way others’ choose to live theirs. This story influences me regularly. It reaffirms my person, because no matter how I am feeling in any given moment, I have to work to be who I feel I should be (no matter how wounded or bitten I feel).

So, every morning, I choose to love so that it’s felt. I think before I act. I process my words before they leave my lips. I love mindfully, consciously. When I die, I want to leave behind the love I have in my heart in the hearts of those who I love, and I want to leave warmth in those whose paths I’ve crossed. And if I’m just a small part of a bigger world that believes in this same thing, then I will have played a role in making the world a better place.

And I’m not disillusioned to the crazy and darkness within us all, and on earth, and in humanity. I’ve seen it, felt it, lived inside it, and shown it. I am work-in-progress, as we all are. But I’ve realized that it’s no harder to grow into someone better than it is to be the cause of pain or negativity, it just takes a different mindset. And so I work hard on being the good, taking responsibility for my bad, and hopefully when I pass, I will leave behind more of the former than the latter.

It’s been one of the hardest things in my life to learn. It took the juxtaposition of knowing cancer cells in my body may take my life, while desperately hanging on to hope that my child would not be left motherless. There is no fear like this. I cannot explain it because there are no words that can paint even the slightest picture of these two feeling wrapped into one. But it undid me, and all that I thought I knew about life, aspirations, purpose, love, balance, and how I want to be remembered.

Life is finite. It ends as we know it. Most likely, we have no control over when, and positively, we have no control over others’ actions, only our own. So – I will make sure that those I love know it. I will be kind and unassuming. I will listen and learn from my mistakes, and I will live humbly, as though the universe and everything in it is my teacher. And I will love like there’s no tomorrow because there may not be.

Thank you for reading my thoughts. Love, jules