I resist the urge to pour my hot coffee all over the spider. With my luck the caffeine would energize it into some frenzied arachnid terror that would undoubtedly kill me within seconds. I stare at it for a while with the simultaneous feelings of disgust and fascination that accompany such things.
This spider lives in the bed of my truck. Every morning for the past couple of weeks I’ve walked out the door with coffee in hand and seen a spider sitting in the middle of a web that it’s made across the corner of my truck bed. The first morning I saw it I drove off with a bit of malevolent joy in my heart, knowing that the web would be unlikely to survive my morning commute to my summer class and back home. And when I got home that day after a three-hour battle with pre-cal, I smugly found that I was right. The web was in pieces and the spider was nowhere to be seen.
The next morning I woke up and shuffled through my usual zombified morning routine. I filled up my coffee mug and headed out the door. I peered into my truck bed looking for the broken web to bring me some sliver of happiness at this godforsaken hour of 6:45 am, but I was unpleasantly surprised. The spider was back, and so was its web. Apparently it had rebuilt its monstrous death trap overnight and was ready to face the day again. I almost felt bad for the thing. Almost.
I sped over to school and home again, and you can guess what I found when I got there. The spider’s web was in tatters, yet again. And the next morning I woke up, went out, and was shocked to see that the spider had built it’s web again. This has continued every day for the past two weeks. However, just yesterday, I realized something. Something a little bit frightening. I am that spider.
This is not me confessing to the world that yes, as you have all suspected for so long, I am Spider-man. In fact, this confession is not very heroic at all. I am that spider because there have been so many times in my life where I have tried so hard to build something where it does not belong. Where it is doomed to fail. And no matter how many times it all falls apart, I have been guilty of getting back on my feet and doing the same exact thing all over again, willfully ignoring the fact that it didn’t work last time, or the time before, or the time before that. I do it because it’s what I think is right. It’s what I think is best; it’s what I want. And just like the spiders web, it all falls apart.
Old habits are hard to break. Things that call to our hearts are hard to turn away from. But if we want to be better, and if we want to build something that lasts, we must learn to make changes. We can’t keep going at things the same way hoping for a different outcome, thinking “Maybe this time will be different; maybe this time things will go the way they are supposed to, the way I’ve been waiting for for so long.” Oftentimes if that’s the mindset we find ourselves in, we can bet that yet again the web is going to break.
There’s an old saying that goes “If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always got.” We can’t fall into comfortable habits. We can’t settle for the tatters of a shredded web, holding on to the hope of what could be. Instead, we must wrestle with what is, and pray for the strength to make something new, something that will last.
“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” –Isaiah 43:19