Nature’s Notes: Always Get Up

Do you remember the childhood song “Eensy, Weensy, Spider”? It was a delightful little song with hand and body movements to accompany the story of a spider that doesn’t give up even when it rains on it.

I confess that I am not a fan of spiders. I tend to be more like Garfield who constantly punches, beats and smashes spiders. However, even in the comics, the spider that was crushed by Garfield still manages to survive the onslaught, albeit in a mangled form.

A spider bite that sent me to the ER for treatment didn’t help my cloudy perception of spiders. Having lived in Arizona for a short season, I met the famous Black Widow. Seeing him outside in my shed, I immediately called a pest control company and became a monthly customer. However, I have great admiration for their work on the web. On a sunny, dew-covered morning, it is a work of beauty to see a shimmering web on a shimmering bush in the sun.

Nature gives each small group of spiders their own innate knowledge of the perfect web design for their lifestyle. When I see flies and other pesky insects caught in a spider’s web, I appreciate their web traps. Not all spiders create webs, but it seems the ones I encounter are all web spinners, or at least make a line of silk from which they can descend, like the jumping spider. No matter how many times their webs are knocked down by humans, the “Eensy, Weensy, Spider” will start from scratch to build a new web. If you need an example of perseverance, look no further than nature’s spiders.

My mother was a picky housewife. If she saw a cobweb, she would fall with the broom in a lightning-fast motion. Cobwebs meant a “messy” house for my mother. My father, brother and I were tasked with “spider detail” with search and destroy orders.

One day I spotted a small spider web in the basement. The spider was nowhere in sight, so I quickly obeyed my mother’s “search and destroy” orders. The next day, I went down to the basement in the corner where I had “knocked out” the offensive canvas. To my amazement, there was a new canvas. Again, I faithfully followed “orders” and cleared the well-built web. The next day, I quickly ran to the corner of the basement to see another canvas. I sighed and “knocked over” the offending object. This same pattern repeated itself for an entire week.

Finally, I spotted the spider on the web. It was a little spider. I decided to have a conversation with this spider. I explained the situation to him and advised him to move because I had my orders. He was just sitting there listening. I ordered him to leave the next morning. When I visited the basement the next morning, the web and the spider were still there. Something in my childish heart just couldn’t obey my mother’s zealous desire to have a house without cobwebs. This little creature had been constantly rebuilding itself each time its house had been “knocked down” and destroyed. He never gave up. I decided to renounce my mother’s “orders” and considered him my own prisoner of war.

After several months, I no longer saw him. I finally “knocked down” and swept away his little house. No other spider calls this corner home, but I’ve never forgotten the lesson it taught me – when you get knocked down, get up and carry on.

The mother had a classmate in her high school graduating class of 17 who was short. This young man was not the “tall, dark, handsome” type who always seems to win a girl’s heart in stories and television. At a young age, he found it difficult to perform and participate in physical activities, but he always pushed himself even harder. When playing football and basketball, he was constantly “knocked down” and looking up from the ground or field at a towering giant standing above him. He always got up, dusted himself off and started coming back into the game. His classmates admired his courage, but schools in nearby towns had placed a target on his back as the one to always aim for. Without complaining, he came back every time he found himself knocked down. Nothing and no one would prevent him from succeeding.

After graduation, many hometown boys enlisted as World War II began to unfold. This young man was one of them. Some of the same sort of stature-related behavior showed up in the ranks again, but it only made him stronger and more determined each time he was knocked down.

This young man was taken prisoner by the Japanese. This young man was one of the survivors of the Bataan death march. All the years of getting knocked down had prepared him for this moment. He survived because he knew how to pick himself up, keep going and never give up or give in. He became a local hero and he was never knocked down again. His past had prepared him for the future. He survived while many others died.

Have you ever felt like you got knocked down in life like my spider or my mom’s classmate? Most of us have probably faced this feeling at least once during our journey. We have two choices when this happens to us. We can either develop a case of self-pity or get back on our feet, keep bringing everything we have to life, and use the pain to grow stronger. We can allow someone to bring us down, or we can keep coming back stronger. Choose to keep getting up. You will be standing when others have fallen. Just remember that “Eensy, Weensy Spider”.

Kim Fortune is a freelance journalist and columnist for the Huron Daily Tribune. She can be reached by emailing [email protected]

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