Zen and the Art of Web Spinning

Kelly Carlin Huffington Post, Spiritual, Zen Comments

These last few months I have receded from the world to my backyard deck spending hours each day meditating, journaling and then working the outline of my memoir. I have been here so much, I am now embedded and a part of my garden’s ecosystem. My niche in this system is to be the amazed witness to the buzz and hubbub of it all – a young pair of Phoebes nesting and raising their fledglings, the daily feedings of hummingbirds, bumble bees and various shaped and colored butterflies, and the juvenile crows hanging out on my trees like bored teenagers at the mall.

And then this week I noticed, with excitement, the garden spiders are back – the spinners of the most magnificent webs.

Every day I watch as her (her because of Charlotte, because she is me? I do not know) perfect web gets battered by the wind and destroyed by insects too strong to be held by its delicate threads. And every evening I watch as she begins her delicate and beautiful spinning again, as if she did not face this herculean task only 24 hours before. She does not mourn. She only knows that she must spin if she is to hope of catching a meal to sustain her. But sustain her for what, a perfection, or stasis? No, there is none of that here or anywhere. There is only spinning so that she may spin again and again until all her days of spinning are gone.

Every day I too face the ways life breaks down my body, my mind, my carefully crafted stasis. But unlike her, I pout, whine (really, I have to wash my hair again?) and often mourn how life does this endless dance of creation and destruction. And at times I feel it dismantle my own resolve to push forward. I ask, “what is the point?”, and ponder what could be so wrong with just lying on my bed watching reruns of Law and Order until my death.

And yet, like it or not, every day, like the spider, I am also caught up in an urge to move forward, make order and fix what has been undone by time. I am inexplicably given invisible marching orders to spin more tales and unfold more of my delicate webbing into the world, so that I may catch a morsel of something that will sustain me for another interval, another turning of the earth across the day and into the night.

There is no preserving this web of hers. There is no way to create it to withstand the ravages of time and preserve the precious and precarious nature that brings us its beauty. I, with my conscious mind, fight with myself daily over the need to have things last forever, and the need to face the reality that it all passes away, some slowly, some in the blink of an eye, but in the end it all goes.

I suppose that is how the beauty of life emerges – in the chambers of my melancholy heart where a constant sadness for what was is felt, and in the unknown territories of my hopeful soul where a constant joy of what might be is born again and again.

And then there are those moments in between the creation and the destruction of it all, when it is all just as it is to be. Here I see that no matter what, there is something that lives beyond death and birth: The very urge to push, participate, spin, eat, kill, create and survive. It becomes crystal clear in those in between moments that my personal participation in this urge will die one day, but not the urge itself. That was here long before me and will be here still long after I have gone.

And then I see all the beauty, the joy and the melancholy. I am the spider. I am the web. I am the wind destroying the web. I am that which has been caught in the web. And I am the urge to spin and spin and spin until I am all spun out.