Portland Sun and Spider.

Via Lisa Montierth
on Sep 27, 2010
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photo by Andrea Kirkby

Impermanence seen through six eyes.

The other day I was pushing my flat-tired bicycle up a slight hill in the grassy southeast section of Portland, watching the specks in the sunlight, and nearly ran my face into a huge, gorgeous spider web.

The web was stretched from a heavy leaf hanging on the right side of the sidewalk over to the skinny limb of a tree on the left side of the sidewalk. The maestro sat in the middle, precariously poised to be dozed into by an un-expecting human eyeball.

“What a silly spider!” I thought to myself. “He should really know better than to build a web right over the middle of the sidewalk.”

This logic is, of course, deeply flawed. Walking on, temporarily abandoning sidewalk for road, I realized this judgment was made based on two assumptions; one, the spider was male (to be honest, the thought of encountering a woman spider is simply too terrifying to consider); and two, the spider ought to possess some uncanny sixth sense, bestowed by eons of evolutionary miracles, allowing it to intuitively select the perfect spot to build a web.

I was gripped by the slight and usually useless omnipotence we sometimes experience with spiders or rivers or other wild things. I had seen a variable that the spider could not, a variable that no spider will ever see – a variable that would almost certainly result in destruction. But what was I to do? The web was spun, half air half light, sparkling in the filtered sun.

As I walked on with my broken bicycle, I thought about my own attempts to create beautiful webs of my own. Standing on the edge of the lovely tree limbs of circumstance, casting out silk strands of hope. Weaving impractical, flawed, heart-spun silver masterpieces. Enduring their loss when incomplete construction, hazardous placement, or unlucky gusts of wind tore them away.

Or eating them up myself for lack of other sustenance, as spiders do.

It bothered me that the spider, so intimate with the earth, so engaged in its own survival, couldn’t sense the alien sidewalk below him. If  this spindly creature, made of myth and of pulp and steel, cannot keep himself out of harm’s way, what hope is there for me, with my dulled senses and big brain so far from the ground?

Because the world is all sidewalks and windstorms and falling leaves. Full of grey moths, beating webs away, blithely decimating silk strands with their wings.

So my webs will fall. The indulgent exercises in roundness and asymmetry, my steeled cocoons, will turn to dust. Float away.

It’s with a potent mix of melancholy and relief that I accept any permanence I seek to weave will always be an illusion. This is comforting to remember in a crisis or during a spell of particularly bad luck, but can shake me through when I’m content. Change can break your heart, but it gives celebrations their intoxicating, dizzy edge. Imagine navigating a world where spider webs never fell. It makes me itch.

Maybe this is one of those sixth sense superpowers – the awareness of impermanence, and spinning anyway.

Doomed to fade, as we all are, that unlucky spider web was a gossamer reminder of the fleeting beauties that are all around us, begging to be seen before they are gone.


About Lisa Montierth

A fledgling earth child and reincarnated rock-star, Lisa celebrates being alive in the yoga studio, on the dance floor, and with the company of friends. Forever on the verge of swooning from all the beauty in this world, she aims to capture some of that in her writing. She has been known to work a sentence for a whole hour, searching for the prettiest verb. Lisa lives and learns in Portland, OR.


15 Responses to “Portland Sun and Spider.”

  1. ajBombach says:

    Love this post!!

  2. Ben_Ralston says:

    Keep working those sentences Lisa. I don't care how many hours it takes you, keep working them. What a beautiful piece of writing… thanks for making me realize I've got work to do!
    Impermanently, Ben

  3. zuko says:

    this is super duper! love the poetic flow, truly drawing me into your moment of experience with nature/ nurture… and the video is just amazingly on point.. love the large hand out of the sky bit and especially the god speed ending! much gratitude! <3

  4. I've always loved spiders – used to name the ones found in the corners of my room – will appreciate their glorious webs even more now. Thank you.

  5. elephantjournal says:

    Keith W: Done the reading, Beautiful, I love the comparison. As for the video, not available on my mobile so bookmarked for later. Thanks for posting.

    elephantjournal.com Gorgeous piece of writing. – Ben R

    elephantjournal.com Isn't that one great? Loved it. ~ W.

    Kimberly B: I loved it…I feel really bad when spiders are crushed, sprayed,,etc when all you need to do is get a cup or anything to put it in and release it….

    elephantjournal.com LOVE LOVE LOVE IT! ~Cheers, Lynn H.

    Jul H: reading this was such an enjoyable experience. thank you. 🙂

    Barbara MKK: Lisa, you are so adorable and I like you very much… so a bike breaking down, if you are connected, can change the world for the better…. continue writing, cause I so like what you have to say… Barb

  6. Anna Fidz says:

    Lisa, your writing is amazing! And the video…hilarious! such great animation!! Thank you!!

  7. Rachel says:

    Beautiful imagery. A gorgeous piece to read 🙂

  8. mssunbug says:

    Gorgeous, gorgeous, GORGEOUS. So simple. So true. Lovely writing. Bravo!

  9. […] myself and one of my friends that jumped the waitress ship earlier this spring to pursue her passion as a writer – you’ll live a thousand lives in the span of a […]

  10. Amy Feucht says:

    THANK YOU. This is so perfect. I needed this message. This is sweet poetry. <3!

  11. Jill Barth says:

    I posted this to the Elephant Green Facebook page. Thanks for sharing!

    Jill Barth, Green Editor
    Join us! Like Elephant Green on Facebook

  12. fluxustulip says:


    Life Is Beautiful.

    All That.

    Life without variables would make us all itch!

    Surprise & Wonder ( some sadness) are the only rational response.

  13. Ros says:

    This is nothing to do with spiders if you watch it again and put one and one together…. Having said that I love spiders and always save those little dudes!!!

  14. James says:

    Wow, I don’t really ever comment on these, but this was just so fantasticly well written, thanks for all the colorful imagery. I really enjoyed all the thought that went into it. What a beautiful piece of writing to wake up to!