When I took this picture a few days ago, I was so enthralled with the gemstone glitter of waterdrops woven in spider webbing, I saw nothing but the jewel-encrusted quilt on the monitor of my camera. I took several shots from a variety of angles. Even then, it wasn't until viewing the photos on my computer that I saw the spider herself. Big as life. In every single picture.
It made me think how our brains settle on one thing at the expense of unlimited other possibilities. I have always had a strong inclination to assign value to, to define, to decide about things, and people, and situations. Good/bad. Pleasure/pain. Strong/weak. Pretty/ugly. Happy/sad. Almost always in opposing pairs - one or the other. Black. White.
Once I've defined a thing by whatever value seems to fit in the moment (usually the one that makes me right or safe or energized in some way), it's very difficult to see anything else. And almost impossible to allow new information in. I was so focused on the beauty of the raindrops, I missed entirely the wonder of the spider.
Assigning absolute value in relationship, ceasing to look beyond the first glimmer, often leaves me backed into an emotional corner with no easy way out.
For better or worse, Walt, whom I love more than anyone else is also the one whom I've judged harsher than anyone else. A habit of old survival defenses I'm trying hard to break. With some success.
We've been having a problem with mice in the pantry. The cats are no longer interested in playing Cat and Mouse, and so the rodents have become bold. First a few black specks, then the discovery of a bag of almonds nearly emptied, and before long the sound of rustling during the day and the surprise of a face to face meeting upon opening the pantry door. Enough was finally enough. I emptied the pantry of everything so Walt could plug the holes, denying the mice access, and life could go on. Except plugging the holes didn't work. Morning after morning we woke up to either a dead mouse or traps licked clean of their peanut butter lure. For weeks.
In the meantime the contents of the pantry, which is in my office, have been stacked on the floor of my office. For weeks.
My old habit would have been to be mad at Walt. For weeks, or longer.
And I would have justified the anger with a litany of his past behaviors that proved (to me, only to me) he wasn't trying hard enough. That anger would have blocked my view of the fact that this was happening at the beginning of the school year, the most intense and exhausting time for any teacher. He was already spending every spare minute trying to fix his recently broken tractor himself to save money and to get the lawns mowed before the fall rains made it impossible. I wouldn't have heard the unbelievable sacrifice he offered when he asked if I wanted him to do the new walls and shelves we've been talking about forever, since the pantry was empty. I wouldn't have been able to share the victory with him when, two nights ago, he found out how the mice were still finding their way into a completely sealed off space.
Because no value was assigned this time - Walt was not the bad guy - the situation was inconvenient but without emotional suffering (beyond my angst over killing the mice). The problem was solved in a way that means it will be unlikely we'll find mice in the pantry again. And best of all I'm seeing my husband in multiple beautiful shades of gray - neither black nor white.
A whole picture that includes both the living center and the magic webbing spun outward, ever-shifting to catch moisture, light and sustenance.