My Web of Habits 

(And My Arachnid Teacher) 

In the Academy Award winning film, My Octopus Teacher, naturalist Craig Foster develops a deep relationship with a talented octopus who teaches him life lessons in her brief year on earth. The film has had such an impact on the world that people like Richard Branson have declared, “I can assure you that I’ve not eaten octopus since, and can’t see how anybody could ever eat octopus again after seeing it.” Others claim this is just another of humanity’s need to anthropomorphize everything from cats to ants.

There is a little bit of animal in each of us: we are territorial, pack animals, we have a social hierarchy and our priorities are generally sex, food and rest, not necessarily in that order. Yet we long for something more. We long for meaning, validation and even enlightenment. And while some people, like Stanley Tucci for example, may have found meaning in the perfect pizza or parmesan, others are looking for soul sustenance. 

Feldenkrais lessons help me expand my field of attention so that I become aware of habits that perhaps keep me from being the “self-realized” being I wish to be. Like Pinocchio, I long to be a “real person” and not just some marionette manipulated by the strings of my mechanical habits. When I stand up after a lesson, I do somehow feel “more human.” However,  it seems much more of a challenge to interrupt my habits in my daily life than while lying on the floor. 

Every year she comes back. Of course I know it can’t be the same spider, but her offspring must have been programmed to remember this very special spot. Every night Arachne weaves her web, connecting her threads from the beam in the car port to my side view mirror. Every morning, as I reach forward to pull the charging cord out of my car, I smack right into her web. Every morning, I curse and chastise her as I spit and pull spider silk out of my mouth. I vow that tomorrow I will remember. Tomorrow, I will lean to the side. Tomorrow, I’ll duck underneath. It never occurs to me to kill her. We have a relationship after all. When I finally am able to pause and remember her, I feel my whole body is alive with presence. I have remembered.

I eventually mastered the act of ducking around her web to the point that my head automatically went down as I entered the carport. I never even had to look. This morning, I ducked my head into a whole new section of web. It seems that by not destroying her web every morning, Arachne had used her spare time to weave strands across the entire length of the carport. I paused, wiped the sticky web off my face, turned to her and bowed, grateful for the wake up call.