Monday, September 16, 2013

A spider's view

I'm tempted to say nothing in this letter.  I'm tempted to keep silent and let the spiders speak for themselves.
After all, no words of mine could possibly enhance the beauty of these autumnal webs, particularly when they're speckled with raindrops.

But, even if these photos impress you, believe me, my best efforts at photography have failed to convey just how breath-takingly beautiful the garden looked yesterday.
Imagine the sun's rays sparkling on those droplets . .  imagine each web stirring slightly in the morning air . . . imagine the birdsong in the background . . . I'm sure you get the picture.

There must have been at least twenty webs in the perimeter of the pond and no two were even similar, far less identical.
Each spider had created an unique masterpiece.

Perhaps, in the mind of a spider, the intricacy and novelty of the design is an additional factor in attracting flies . . . who knows.  Who can attempt to know what's in the mind of a spider.

That being said, there's one thing I do know with certainty . . . for the spiders who wove those webs the concept of photography would be impossible to grasp.
No spider, intent on ensnaring the greatest number of unwary flies for breakfast, could fathom the purpose of a camera.

As for the idea that an image of its web could be sent through cyberspace . . . that unknown humans in unknown locations might, at some future date, be admiring both itself and its handiwork . . . ?
As any rightly sceptical spider would scoff, "Tell me another!"

Unlikely as it may sound, I find this rather absurd thought strangely reassuring.  After all, aren't we, in a way, rather like those spiders?

We can create the most amazing technological marvels . . . explore outer space . . . find ways of defeating disease and extending life . . . but our understanding also has its limits.

Do we know what life is?  Do we know what time is?
Can I say with any certainty where I was . . . what I was . . . or even if I was . . . before this lifetime?

The spiders who wove those webs are industrious, creative and patient (although doubtless some are more industrious, creative and patient than others), but, as a species, they're totally unable to comprehend that humans view their fly-traps as works of art . . . works of art, what's more, that can be photographed and shared.

What this line of thought opens up is not a sense of ignorance, but one of gratitude for undreamed-of possibilities.

If there's so much beyond the wit and wisdom of a spider . . . just what might be waiting in the wings to startle and amaze me?

After all, no caterpillar could possibly have envisaged such a colourful future . . .