Last night, I noticed a beige spider on the ceiling above the stairs. It was night, and the children were about to go to sleep and really, unless I wanted to perch precariously over the stairs and risk tumbling to my imminent end, there was no easy way to retrieve the creature.

And so I left him, wished him well, and turned off the lights.

One could fear that, bathed in sleep, we wouldn’t recognize the tickle of this creature crawling across our skin or sinking in for a bite. But it didn’t happen. He’s somewhere in our house and we are learning to co-exist peacefully.

There is no need to squash him, kill him or fling him outside into the autumn. No need, really, to bring harm to another creature unless, I suppose, it is in self-defense.

This morning, as I prepared to play tennis in my ladies league at Beverly Hills Club, I noticed a spider in a similar hue dangling from the scorecard on court 6. It was a challenge, for sure, to flip the numbers without hurling him across the court, but I succeeded.

The next time I went to change the score, he had made his way safely to the ground below. By the next time I approached the scorecard, he had vanished.

In dream analysis, spiders are compared to snakes in referring to something bad in your life – as if you feel “trapped or stuck, dislike your job or wish to move to something more interesting.” There is talk about spiders symbolizing feeling stuck in a relationship, as if your emotions are caught in a complex silky web spun by an innocuous creature.

None of these explanations applies to my life right now, so I’m not buying it. I also once heard that everything in a dream represents the dreamer in some way – besides, I was wide awake each time I encountered these little arachnids.

Some believe we must squash insects lest they bite us, but the fear of something so infinitely small – and unlikely to do real harm – is more about the fear of losing control, of not understanding the other creature’s mission in life, or of not understanding how to coexist peacefully with others.

I’ve come to realize that we are all on this earth for a higher purpose, that every living creature has a mission to accomplish in life and those who cross our path are there for a very good reason. We may not know it, we may not understand it, but we can’t just obliterate the evidence to make ourselves feel better.

As the spider went along his purposeful path, I focused on the yellow fuzzy ball and tried not to hit with my racquet wide open. I just played the ball, one stroke at a time, staring at its orb rather than fixing on where I might send it.

In short order, he had left my awareness. I was in the game, sweating through another point, cursing silently every time I swung too hard and the ball went so far out, it couldn’t even be counted. 

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