Fascination vs Fear: Life lessons from my leggy house guests

As you may or may not know, I’m currently living in a yurt. Living in nature has been a dream for me since I was a young girl (I was that child who would always be out and about climbing trees, making dens, camping in the garden….) and this summer I’ve made it happen. The story of how it all came about is one for another day, but today I wanted to share one of the simple yet profound lessons that yurt life has taught me.

As with many ideas that come into fruition, the reality isn’t always as romantic as the original dream. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE living in my yurt in the woods, even though I’m not fully set up and settled yet. It’s beautiful. There are varied challenges, as you’d expect, living off grid and without many modern conveniences, but the challenge was part of the draw for me. One thing, though, that I’ve had to really get over (and arachnophobes, please don’t freak out here), is my wariness and something between repulsion and fear of spiders.

I’m in the woods. There are bugs. Of course there are. My yurt isn’t fully sealed, so bugs can get in. Not that many, generally speaking, but around the door there are some lovely bug-shaped holes which are particularly appealing to harvestmen spiders. (Interestingly, these creatures aren’t actually spiders, I’ve since learned, but to look at them you would think they were – they are those small-bodied, long-legged field “spiders” that I’m sure you’ve seen at some point). The thing is with harvestmen, they are quite sociable and tend to cluster together. In rather large groups, all nestled together in an untidy, leggy mess. In sheltered places. Like the cosy woollen insulation between the roof poles in my yurt, just near the door. I have a few adventurous individuals that venture into other areas of the yurt, and one or two often come and hang out by my candles at night, but for the most part they hang out en masse near the door. A few years ago, this would have majorly freaked me out. I’ve never been *terrified* of spiders, but I’d generally really rather they weren’t near me. And here I am, in the woods, and I find myself living among them, and they very obviously outnumber me fifty to one. They are always there. A couple of times I have been woken by spidery legs tickling me as one clambered over my face. Yes, I still shudder at that.

Would I rather they weren’t here? Oh yes. Have I considered trying to get rid of them? Oh yes! But, part of me feels a little ashamed and silly to wish they weren’t here. It’s their woods, after all. I’m in their space, not the other way around. And they do their fair share of housekeeping, keeping the other bugs down. And they don’t actually cause me any harm, except the occasional mid-slumber disturbance. So, what should I do?

In the end it’s very simple. I could fight them, or I could accept them. Or, of course, I could move out of the woods. Well, I’m certainly not going to do the latter! And the former, well, that’s a waste of energy which also defeats the very nature of life in the woods. And so, I accept the spiders-that-aren’t-spiders. I treat them with fascination and respect. Yes I keep an eye on them to check their numbers aren’t rapidly multiplying, but I try to embrace their presence and what they are teaching me. They are actually fascinating creatures, and curiosity helps me overcome my fear of them. And, I’ve realised what a beautiful lesson that is for life in general. Life – and all aspects of life, through relationships, health, vocation, wealth – is never going to be all shiny and perfect all the time. But exploring the less-than-perfect with curiosity and acceptance enables us to enjoy the good stuff in spite of the other stuff. I used to run away when things were less than perfect. When there was conflict. It was easier. Less scary. But what did I miss? I look at these leggy house guests now and I realise that I’m not going to run away this time. I’m not leaving this beautiful life in the woods because of a bunch of (not-actually-all-that) scary spiders….

And I’m going to have a go at applying that lesson to other “scary” areas of my life!

Has fear ever stopped you doing something you’d love to do? Have you got a winning tactic for feeling that fear and doing it anyway? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below, and maybe we can all learn from each other, as well as from long-legged woodland creatures…

2 thoughts on “Fascination vs Fear: Life lessons from my leggy house guests”

  1. What a fab little article. I’m not a wordsmith, but I’d love to be. My daughters are. They are very well read. I am not. I have encouraged their reading, I love to read what they have written. But I could never emulate the way they conjure up laughter, sadness and emotions or just capture the essence of an event or encounter with friends. For me the fear of failing stopped me. Until I was made redundant after 24 hours in NHS. I became self employed. It was something I would never have done voluntarily. But circumstances dictated. Suddenly I could do stuff, important stuff. Make a difference. I enjoyed it. Became engrossed in it at times. But I loved it and could do it. Successfully. And now? I’m “retired”. Very early (53). Next challenge? No idea yet. “But what if I fall?” “But what if you fly”…

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