Lessons from a Spider
Asoka Selvarajah

Since I moved from London and started living in the Italian countryside, I have encountered a greater variety of strange insects than I even thought existed. I have also become more of an observer.

A spider built a web outside my office window. My policy these days tends to be one of live and let live. So I just let it be. Every so often, when I took a break from working, I would go to the window and there he would be; perfectly still, waiting in exactly the same place. In fact, he was there for many weeks; about three or four at least.

He caught something on a couple of occasions; a moth and a fly. However, in the last few weeks, he caught nothing at all. But he stayed there anyhow, perfectly still - waiting. I wondered if he was getting quite hungry by now.

One day, I went to the window and the web was still there but the spider was gone. He'd cut his losses and moved on. I found that there were several lessons in his behavior:

(1) Persistence. How many of us give up in life when desired results don't materialize immediately? Adults are particularly prone to this in a way that children are not. Imagine if we had given up when we were learning to walk as quickly as we do these days when we try anything new! This little fellow stayed persistently at the task for weeks if necessary until he eventually achieved his goal.

What are the chances of catching an insect in any one hour segment? Pretty low. However, this spider knows that if he eventually sticks to the task, he will succeed in the end.

(2) Know when to quit. Persistence is important. However, knowing when it's time to move on is also crucial. Someone defined insanity as "doing the same things you've always done and expecting a different result". Clearly, this spider was not insane. He knew when to quit.

That's more than many of us know. We happily sweat away at the same situations, do things the exact same way we've always done them, but expect or hope for a different result! We don't even have the intelligence of a spider. Scary thought, isn't it?

If I  come back to your web in a couple of years time, will I find you still there - starving to death?! Will you still be stuck in the same job, same relationship, same social group that you either hate or that's doing you no good at all? Unlike this little spider, many people don't know when to quit or when to move on in life to a fresh challenge.

However, if we are failing to get the results we want in life, there is no point hanging around in our comfort zone, fearing the unknown.

The spider might have said to itself, "Yes, but look at all the work I've done. The time I've put into this web. What a waste to leave it all behind. After all, it did catch me a few things once (long ago)" No. He simply left and never came back.

We need to examine our own lives like this. Whatever we determine to be our heart's desire should be persisted in with determination until it brings results. However, things that are not taking us forward in this rapidly changing society or ours are holding us back. Sometimes, as in the case of this spider, some change - any change at all - is better than simply doing nothing.

In summary, whatever we do and believe whole-heartedly in, we should persist in with determination until we achieve the goal. However, if what we do no longer gives us the joy and comfort it once did, if we are simply holding on to the past, we need to know when to let go.

This spider did not get caught in his own web. Don't get caught in yours!

Copyright  Asoka Selvarajah   All Rights Reserved.


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