Spiders are taking over my house and garden. Well, not really . . . but there are a lot more of them around lately. It’s not because there’s been an explosion in the spider population as far as I know. I just haven’t been cleaning or working in the garden as much.
Reading this statement, you may think that I’ve grown lazy. Well, maybe I have. But more to the point are these two reasons: a realization that being overly fastidious about removing dust bunnies (and spider webs) in the home or a proliferation of weeds in the garden is a waste of time, and a growing need to put my beliefs about the natural world into practice.
When you get to a certain point in your life, you realize that you are running out of time. A clean and well-dusted house may have meant a great deal to me when I was younger (my mother had something to do with this attitude of mine; she was always cleaning, and I would often come home from school to find the rugs rolled up and her down on her hands and knees and scrubbing the floors or find her with her head inside emptied kitchen cabinets), but now it occurs to me that having a clean house is a waste of precious time. I have a button on my bulletin board that declares, “A clean house is a sign of a wasted life,” and I pretty much agree. It’s not that I let the house get totally out of hand; it’s just that I’ve developed a certain tolerance for letting things get messier and dustier than I used to. Cleaning a house may make you feel good, and there may even be a sense of accomplishment, but this is short lived, as one’s domicile quickly returns to its pre-dusted and scoured state. The same can be said for weeding: If I weed my garden from start to finish (from one bed through to the last), by the time I finish (this over several days, as my garden is rather large), weeds have staged a comeback in the first bed I worked on. Any sense of satisfaction I may get from my tidy garden fades as soon as I see those weeds have returned, and my satisfaction turns to annoyance. So, while I do weed, I allow myself to tolerate a greater amount of weediness than I would have tolerated previously, before I set to the task again.
Don’t get me wrong: It’s important to feel a sense of accomplishment, and some people get this from a house well cleaned or a garden well weeded. It’s just that I’ve decided to put my energies into things that deliver a sense of accomplishment more long lasting. Writing, for instance. While it took me years, I did finally finish and have published a 350-page memoir. That’s given me a sense of accomplishment that won’t fade so fast. And if my house wasn’t dusted as often or my garden weeded as often as the previous me would have wished, so what? Another thing that has given me much enjoyment has been music. Two years ago, I joined a choir. As singing with others has been something I’ve wanted to do for years, I have found it immensely satisfying and inspiring to do so. And I’ve been playing guitar much more regularly and have actually gotten to the point where I’m not afraid to play in front of others. The sense of satisfaction I’ve gotten from my musical endeavors isn’t likely to fade quickly, either.
The increasing number of spiders in my house and garden also has to do with putting my beliefs about the natural world into practice. Spiders have a right to live, just as we do. What harm is there if a few spider webs (and even a bit more than a few) appear in the upper corners of rooms for awhile, or if webs proliferate in the shrubs and flowerbeds? Spiders are amazing creatures, spinning their webs almost overnight, and they catch mosquitoes and other insects I’m not overly fond of. It’s not that I don’t sometimes remove spider webs (one large spider built a huge one overnight last summer right outside and across our front door!), but I ask myself this question before acting: Do I really need to remove this web at this time? I remind myself that I’m about to destroy the spider’s home, akin to a Hurricane Sandy event for this creature (albeit not involving water). Granted, it’s easier for a spider to rebuild its home than it is for us humans when flooded out, but from the spider’s point of view, maybe not. After all, they have a much shorter life span than we do. In one of the shrubs next to our front door, we had a veritable spider condo going on for quite a few weeks, until it got so out of hand, I (very gently), removed the webs, taking care not to injure the occupants. They’ve already started reweaving.