Gero-punk Contemplations: Dear Spider

Dear Spider,

I meant to honor you by taking a photo or two of your physics-defying web created outside the back door. You asleep in the center of the intricate structure, did the flash of the camera cause you to startle and wake up? You fled so immediately, your diagonal downward cascade ripping the thin silken strands of your lovely temporary home. You looked like a mountain climber falling off a complicated wall, saved only by the ropes attached to your harness. But you are a spider, and you took half the web with you as you fell. You didn’t hit the ground but dangled at the end of a guide wire. In that moment, watching you tumble, I realized how mindless was my assumption that my human curiosity about your spider ways, my curiosity that lead me to flash bright light at you with my camera, somehow honored you in your singular creatureliness.  In actual fact: It doesn’t honor you, most especially not if it results in the destruction of your creation.

Perhaps my enthrallment was better expressed by simply witnessing you asleep at the center of you stunning, flummoxing masterpiece. Witnessing and then giving a blessing to you as a co-creature on this planet, traveling through the life course together.

Please know that I meant well when I took the photos of you, but the truth is, I was thinking mostly about my experience of you, not your experience of being you asleep at the center of your finely crafted web, nor your experience of being peered at by a human – me — wielding a bright flashing camera…A human who felt compelled to not only witness, but to capture and document the creature whom was witnessed…And, thus, though unintentionally, to destroy its sanctuary.

So now, there you are, scrambling around a half-a-web.

I left the porch light on in case the dark scares you, though I wonder if yet again I am thinking from a human standpoint at your expense. For the rest of the evening I keep peeking through the window at the backdoor to see if you are okay, though I am not sure how I would even know if you were okay or not. Of course, I couldn’t see you if I hadn’t left the porch light on.

I went to sleep feeling like a shit for being such a human. But also inspired to ponder more fully this seemingly quintessentially human habit of capturing, documenting, categorizing, re-representing (interpreting), explaining, telling stories about that which or those whom we’ve witnessed.

First thing the next morning I went to the window to see what was what. Ugh. Over the night you had deconstructed what was left of your web. Nothing remained.  Would you be surprised if I were to tell you I felt sad?

And then this unexpected thing occurred a few hours later, at the end of the same day. As I was going about my chores I happened to glance out the back door’s window only to see that you had returned and so had your completely and utterly physics-defying web.

Sorry, and thanks, and much love,


Post script:

I bet you are wondering what this has to do with my commitment to being an intentionally-aging gero-punk.


About Jenny Sasser, Ph.D.

I am a freelance educational gerontologist, writer, community activist and facilitator. I am former Chair of the Department of Human Sciences and Director of Gerontology at Marylhurst University. I joined the faculty as an adjunct member of the Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies program in 1997 and since that time, I've been involved in designing many on-campus and web-based courses and programs for adult learners, including in Gerontology. As an undergraduate I attended Willamette University, graduating Cum Laude in Psychology and Music; my interdisciplinary graduate studies at University of Oregon and Oregon State University focused on the Human Sciences, with specialization areas in adult development and aging, women’s studies, and critical social theory and alternative research methodologies. My dissertation became part of a book published in 1996 and co-authored with Dr. Janet Lee--Blood Stories: Menarche and the Politics of the Female Body in Contemporary US Society. Over the past twenty (or more!) years I have been involved in inquiry in the areas of creativity in later life; older women's embodiment; sexuality and aging; critical Gerontological theory; transformational adult learning practices; and inter-generational friendships and cross-generational collaborative inquiry. I am co-author, with Dr. Harry R. Moody of Aging: Concepts and Controversies (now in its 10th edition!) and first author, also with Moody, of the recently published Gerontology: The Basics, as well as author/co-author of several book chapters, articles and essays. I am on the Portland Community College Gerontology Program faculty.
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1 Response to Gero-punk Contemplations: Dear Spider

  1. Ruth Cohen says:

    In Shamanic tradition, Grandmother Spider weaves the web that interconnects all of us: to each other, to the World, and to the Great creator.

    Blessings, Ruth

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