One night, a daddy longlegs came into my room and sprinted toward my bed.
Or, I should say, it sprinted toward my futon mattress, which rested on the floor of my basement apartment. I didn’t really have a bed.
And when I say “sprinted,” I mean it. It was like it was on a mission.
I was used to this sort of thing. I lived in a basement apartment.
I grabbed a washed-out, empty yogurt cup and a coaster, and scooped the daddy longlegs into the cup, covering the top with the coaster.
I took the daddy longlegs outside. At that point in time, if a bug or spider showed up in my shower I sprayed them to death. But if they appeared elsewhere, I took them outside.
As I was pouring the daddy longlegs out of the cup I could see another one, coming right in the door as if it had been invited over for tea. It sprinted right for my bedroom.
I was still busy with the one I had already caught, so I said, “You get that one, Gromit!”
Gromit was a stuffed dog that looked like the animated dog from Wallace and Gromit.
I finished dumping the daddy longlegs and walked back–what do you know: the daddy longlegs had stopped and was resting right on Gromit.
I scooped up the other daddy longlegs and carried it to the door, but as soon as I opened the door, another daddy longlegs sprinted in again.
“Another one, Gromit. Can you get it?”
I finished dumping the one I had, then looked back: sure enough–Gromit had the other one. It was sitting right on him.
I scooped it up, and this time, I cautiously opened the door, checking for a daddy longlegs that might be gearing up for making a mad dash–nothing.
I let out the last daddy longlegs, and closed the door.
That got me thinking. I figured it was an odd thing for two or three daddy longlegs spiders to sprint in the same direction (I don’t know if they are truly spiders–Wikipedia says some are, and some aren’t).
I thought there must be some sort of intelligence at work and if there’s some sort of intelligence at work, then a deal can be made, right?
Previously, if I found something in my shower that I didn’t want to be there, I’d spray it to death. A hideous way to die! I felt bad, but…they were in my sacred space.
So I made a deal. I kind of told them, in my head, thinking really hard, that if they would never appear in my shower or in my bed, I would never kill any of them, anymore.
And I stopped seeing them in my shower and in my bed. No bugs. No spiders.
Odd things started to happen.
Sometimes, when I’d see a spider on the wall, I’d just tell it I was going to take it outside, then hold the yogurt cup up to the wall, under the spider, and the spider would just kind of hop in.
And then instead of scrambling and trying to get out, usually the spider would just sit there, waiting for me to take it outside.
I was pleasantly surprised.
Then winter came. I was capturing the spiders and taking them outside whenever I found them, but I knew they wouldn’t last very long outside, so I felt that, essentially, I was killing them.
It was hard on my conscience. And also I was worried about how this reflected on my part of the bargain.
If I knew I was essentially killing them, wouldn’t they eventually start showing up in my shower again?
So I made another deal: I’d stop taking them outside. Instead, I’d put them in one of two windowsills and let them live there. I also designated all the high corners of the rooms as spots where they could live if they wanted.
Sometimes they took me up on it, and we didn’t bother each other.
And still, no bugs or spiders were appearing in my shower or bed.
At some point, I became more comfortable with sharing my home with spiders and bugs. Although I started realizing that I only really ever saw spiders, now. I hardly ever saw bugs. And even the spiders I only saw rarely.
Eventually, I began a policy of nonintervention. I just let the spiders do what they wanted. If I saw one (which was rare), I’d let it go about its business, which it did. They would head across the room in a very business-like fashion and I wouldn’t see them again.
But I did start noticing some things. Like, though I rarely saw a spider when I was home alone, if I invited someone over who was afraid of spiders, one would suddenly appear, dangling right in front of them.
They KNEW. They knew exactly what they were doing.
I’d always been into meditation. And then I read a book about communicating with animals (A Language Older than Words–lovely book!).
One day I was up late, reading in bed.
A spider entered my bedroom through the bedroom door.
It crawled toward me.
I thought, that’s strange. They usually don’t crawl toward me. Their business doesn’t ever involve me.
So I figured I’d see what the spider was going to do.
It crawled up on my futon mattress. It had entered sacred space!
It was moving slowly, though. It didn’t seem aggressive, and I didn’t move. It stopped a foot away from where I was reading, looking straight at me (or well, so I think–I don’t really understand how their eyes work).
So I thought, well, whatever you have to say, it must be important.
I put down my book, and faced the spider, sitting in a meditation pose.
I closed my eyes, cleared my thoughts, and waited.
A thought popped into my head: Lately, I’m not meditating enough.
I opened my eyes. The spider was on its way back out the door.
Thank you, spider. I appreciate that!
It was true, too. I hadn’t meditated in a long while.
That’s happened many times, now. Spiders appear before me and won’t leave until I listen to their spiritual advice, which generally varies from “You’re not eating right, lately,” to “You haven’t been incorporating nature into what you do enough, lately.”
For example, when I lived at the Winchester on Capitol Hill, there was a spider who decided to live in my bathroom sink. I didn’t know why, but because of my nonintervention policy, I didn’t remove it.
I washed my hands in the kitchen, or at times, on one side of the bathroom sink. The spider was there for a week, at least.
I was busy, then. I was working on schoolwork and trying to get a self-published book layed out in InDesign. I was basically working nonstop, and probably had been for a month or so.
Until one night I stopped to poop, and while I was sitting there pooping, I looked at the spider and thought, okay, what do you have to tell me?
I closed my eyes.
Soon, a thought popped into my head: I’m not getting out enough.
I opened my eyes. The spider, after one week of hanging out in my sink, building strange, beautiful webbing that never caught any bugs–after one week of making me wash my hands in the kitchen–after one week, at immediately the time I got that thought in my head, the spider scampered off to its next order of business.
They KNOW. They know exactly what they’re doing.
I went outside immediately after washing my hands. I took a walk. The night was clear, and everything smelled alive.