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(our new neighbor)

This spider has been living in the jungle-like flower garden outside our place for the last couple of weeks, and she is gorgeous! And wow, by my evolved primate standards, she is brutal. I have watched her wrap up her prey with such precision and speed into her sticky silk. It’s breathtaking.

Having the opportunity to watch this spider so closely has been awesome! In fact, I am sitting in a chair just to the right of her web as I type these words. Every morning when I put out my bird feeders, I make sure she is still there and has survived the night.

When I have watched her reconstruct her web, or sit so perfectly still for so long, or ride the waves of the wind from the center of her web, I have been completely amazed and awed by it all. And I admit that I have felt such sadness when I have seen an insect caught in her web.

In particular – earlier today, I noticed that she had caught something quite large – probably a moth – and was holding it close to her, and I suppose for that reason she had not yet bothered to wrap a couple of smaller catches in silk. One of these little flies appeared to be dead, and the other was still struggling, flapping its little wings again and again, certainly hoping it would break free.

And here I was, watching it, wondering if I ought to try to free it, thinking, How can I just stand by while this little creature suffers? And then, rolling my eyes at myself: Where do I get off thinking that I know something that this spider doesn’t know? And then, being a Star Trek fan, it brought to mind, not without a slight chuckle, the prime directive.

So… I didn’t do anything. I just watched and breathed and noticed how I was feeling – sad, excited, and curious. Is the spider gonna put that thing out of its misery or what? and Poor thing and Wow, what an amazing opportunity to watch this whole thing up close.

For twenty years, I have been eating a plant-based diet (with honey as the only exception, and a brief excursion back into, and then shortly back out of, local cage-free eggs in recent years). It’s the choice that has aligned most closely with my values and has been most supportive of my health and well-being for two decades. I don’t tell anyone else they should do what I do. It’s none of my business.

Spiders eat flies. That’s what they have evolved to do. That’s what they have to do. It’s none of my business.

Each conscious creature – spider and human alike – is following what moves them toward keeping every part of themselves alive and well.

I am really joyful and grateful for the chance to watch any of this unfold, and to bump up against my own cherished beliefs and remember what drew me to them in the first place. And, of course, keep rooting for all the spiders and flies, and people, too.