Caught in a spider's web
Today I watched a dragonfly caught in a spider's web. I stood there captivated as he struggled to get free. Again and again he would try to fly away only to be drawn back by the silky web attached to the small branches. I watched as a large spider, only inches away, also watched. He observed his prey wrestling to free himself. The spider would come forward, closer to the dragonfly and then quickly pull back when the dragonfly struggled to no avail to get free. It was as if the spider knew it wasn't quite time to attack and so he waited. Patiently he watched as again and again the dragonfly tried to free himself.
It is hard not to interfere
As much as I wanted to, I did not interfere. I watched and waited, fascinated by nature. To take the time to observe nature I know offers many powerful lessons. Unfortunately my lesson came in a different form.
Are we setting others free?
Another walker came by, curious about what I was so intrigued with. When he seen the trapped dragonfly, he grabbed a twig and broke the spider's web setting the dragonfly free before I could even blink or suggest he just let it be. The spider, the walker said, could find himself another victim.
What might happen if we slow down and connect first?
I walked away disappointed. The other walker wasn't interested in slowing down long enough to really connect with what was happening. He chose not to pause, to connect or to observe. He swooped in solving the "problem" and moved on his way. Was there really a problem? Is this not natures way? How many times do we solve problems in others lives before really figuring out what the issue is?
What do people learn from solving their own problems?
Maybe the dragonfly was just about to get away on his own, learning his own strength when he stays determined. Or, what if the spider had finally figured out the "right" way to catch a dragonfly? Those lessons were just taken away, suddenly by someone who failed to slow down and connect.
Are we being efficient by running around solving problems all day?
We are a world of problem solvers. Give us a problem and we will fix it. We will make everything “all better” so we can move on. We don’t have time to let things sort themselves out or to really get a better handle on it. We look more efficient if we move through our day solving problems quickly. But is this really the efficient way?
Slowing down allows us to learn from problems
Slowing down like this is not something I've always done or even do as much as I would like to now. Yet when I do, I realize the power of it and it connects me more to my purpose.
In order for me to teach that to others, I must first learn to do it myself. I must first learn to slow down, to connect to what is really going on. Then I teach that and I live that so that others may learn too. I do this so that individuals slow down, organizations slow down and the world slows down. In doing so, in slowing down, rather than fixing other’s problems, we learn with them. We provide the space for them to learn how take the best course of action or make the best decision rather than doing it for them.
Lessons learned from a spiders and a dragonfly
The lesson for me was in seeing how hard it is for the world to slow down. It was a great reminder for me that I need to continue with the work I do!
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This picture was taken just a few days before my dog Angel was attacked. Thankfully, the attack by three boxers left me more emotionally shaken than my dog was physically hurt. In my reflections back, I’ve been able to see the many lessons the incident taught me. And I keep coming back to the main one around our need to be able to surrender.
Do you struggle to give in to things?
I like many of you, struggle to give in to things. I struggle to let go of something that isn’t working, not serving me or something I want so badly to happen, but isn’t. Let me give you an example. I continue to do my own book keeping for my company. I can do it. I am ok with figuring it out to a degree. It is however extremely time consuming, just a wee bit stressful and I know there is no way I do it anywhere as good as a competent bookkeeper might. Yet I continue to fight through it and resist hiring it out.
Nature can teach us lessons about surrendering
My dog taught me surrendering could actually be a good thing. That day, I went for a walk as I often do, completing a loop through the neighbourhood that takes me about 20 minutes. It’s a break in my day, an opportunity to connect with nature and a much needed exercise opportunity for both Angel and I. That particular day my Mother-in-law was visiting with her dog and decided to also come for the walk with me.
Submit to what is and stop resisting
About three quarters of the way through our walk we were enjoying the sun, our conversation and the dogs were trotting along beside us nicely. Suddenly my mother-in-law screams! Coming barreling out of nowhere these three dogs come chasing Angel and I down. One is clearly the aggressor and within seconds, he has Angel by the neck and despite my screams and my own aggressive kicks to this dog’s head, he refused to let go. In slow motion it seems, I watched my dog start to die in front of my eyes. She submits and stops resisting. I feel helpless. I can’t stop the attack and I can’t change what is happening in front of my eyes.
The consequence of submitting - everything is ok
My own screams eventually encourage my mother-in-law to go to the house and get the owner who runs out and using her own hands unclenches her dog’s mouth from Angel’s neck. My only thought then is to get out of there and fast! With the owner chasing me down to see if Angel is ok, Angel myself, my mother-in-law and her dog frantically head for home. Yes, Angel is ok, breathing fine and walking with me.
Although not entirely unscathed, a trip to the vet, some meds and time proved that Angel faired quite well from what could have been a much worse event. I was amazed and relieved!
Be wise to know when you are fighting a loosing battle
I believe what made the difference was that Angel didn’t resist. After initially trying to defend herself, she was wise enough to know that she couldn’t take on three boxers. She knew that if she tried to resist, she wouldn’t get very far and in fact might have been significantly hurt. Although I thought she was dying and she may have been, in actuality she was probably laying there saying “Will someone please get these dogs off me so I can finish my walk!”
Place your trust in what you know to be true
I believe Angel trusted me. She knew I would figure it out. I’ve always been there with her. Or maybe she trusted the laws of nature. Think of how many times do animals do this. They play dead or stop resisting so they can get out of the situation they are in. They surrender to what is happening.
Notice what you are resisting
We all resist things. I have seen many people stay in a job they hate. Their resistance only, causes havoc. Many times they are only making the situation worse for themselves and others. I have witness time and time again, people pushing themselves to the max when their bodies say stop! Take a break. Rest. Yet they don’t and cause themselves much more harm than is necessary. I myself, and know others, resist feeling certain emotions that are present. I fight to push emotion down. My anger, hurt or sadness gets covered with indifference or busyness. Yet we all know, repressed emotions come out sooner or later. And those buried feelings only fester and come out stronger, inappropriately or at the completely wrong time.
Surrender to what is happening
Surrendering to what is happening is a way of being conscious and present. If something is happening that you really don’t have the ability to change or impact, or honestly aren’t invested in anymore, get out. If you are sad, mad or glad, be sad, mad or glad. Don’t pretend you are feeling something you are not. Surrender to your body’s request for sleep, food or renewal.
Demonstrate your strength by surrendering
And yes, as Angel and three aggressive boxers taught me; me surrender to stronger more powerful forces. Let the storms pass. Know you are safe. When the time is right, come out and continue on your way knowing you really are stronger because you can surrender.
I lead a full life full of love, adventure and growth. Check out my latest thoughts here.
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