This is a story about a spider.
Before I begin, it should be said that I don’t usually develop a fondness towards anyone or anything from the insect bloodline. I’m more of a “yell-dramatically-and-hide-in-a-corner-while-begging-my-brother-to-kill-it-with-a-shoe” kind of girl. Bugs and I don’t particularly get along, especially those of the spider variety.
But this one is different. He lives in the side mirror of my car. One morning I found an intricate web peeking out from the inner rim of my mirror.
Maybe it was the barrier of the window that separated us, or maybe it was the belief that he would never survive the drive to my office long enough to actually hurt me, but for whatever reason, this spider didn’t seem to bother me too much.
In fact, when I got into my car after work that day, I was surprised to find him still there, hanging on to the few measly strands of web remaining from this morning’s commute.
And so it goes. Every morning, I find a freshly spun web hanging from the sides of my mirror. And every time I pulled into the parking lot of my office, it’s gone. But the web and the spider are always back the next day, ready to hold on for dear life as I drive to work, or the gas station, or my Thursday Pilates class.
It amazes me, the determination of that spider. Every single day his web is knocked down. And every single night he rebuilds it. What kind of tenacity must that take? What kind of grit and fortitude? In my mind, the spider has transformed from a gross insect to the modern-day version of The Little Engine That Could. I find myself cheering him on and rooting for his success. Day after day he is still there- clinging to his tattered web as my car rattles down the highway.
And yet, despite being initially impressed, I can’t help but wonder if this spider is kind of an idiot. Why is he insisting on building his home here on my car, where it will never, ever last? Is his tenacity really just blind stubbornness at this point? He’d be much better off if he would take the hint from the Universe and go make his web somewhere else. Why is he refusing to leave?
I want this spider to succeed. I want him to make it. But he is never going to if he doesn’t get the hell off my car.
Still, I know the feeling. How many times in my life have I been like that spider, hellbent on making something work even though everything around me and inside me is screaming ‘no’? Insisting on jamming a square peg into a round hole? Committed to a cause that’s no longer a good fit?
Society is constantly telling us to work harder and faster. We’re taught to never give up, to persevere at all costs. We glorify the grind, brag about our perfectionism, wear our discipline like a badge of honor. And yes, there are lessons in pain. Wisdom can be gained from learning not to run. There are times when we truly do need to stick it out, when we need to dig into our roots and choose to stay.
But that’s not always the case. There’s another option, another path that we can take. We can choose to give up, to surrender, to say uncle. We can choose to no longer be miserable. Sometimes the bravest thing we can do is whisper “this isn’t working anymore” and find the courage to change course.
What if it really was that easy? What if we didn’t have to grin and bear it any longer? What if all we needed to do was surrender our death grip and get the fuck off the mirror?
It’s hard, I know. We’ve been conditioned to push, to endure, to fight. I’ve stayed in situations much longer than I needed to, just to prove that I have what it takes to stay. But enduring misery isn’t always a sign of strength, it’s often a sign of fear. Change is scary. It can be terrifying to make the leap, to walk into the unknown and start all over again. Sometimes it’s easier to stay in a bad situation that you understand than to take a chance on a brand new one.
But the fact of the matter is, if he doesn’t leave, that spider is going to die. It might not be today, it might not be tomorrow, but he is going to die. The stress will get to him if nothing else does. He will break. The winds will blow him away.
I for one don’t want to be like that spider. I don’t want to mask my fear behind a veil of determination and choose productivity for productivity’s sake. I’m done with forcing things that no longer fit.
I’m choosing to surrender, to chart a new course. I want to make a new home in the soil. I want to be brave enough to spin a new web. I want to live. Really and truly live.