Every superhero has a weakness. Superman’s is kryptonite; Spiderman’s is his sense of responsibility; Aquaman is vulnerable to being too long out of water; and Wolverwine does himself in with his inability to control his temper.
I, too, am a superhero. By day, mild-mannered writer and speaker. But in times of crisis, I become Captain White Legs, able to blind evildoers with one flash of my chalky, soft flesh. Anyway, as a superhero, I have a weakness (just one, I’m quick to point out). My weakness is spiders. If I had to choose between dying and sleeping in the same room where a spider has been spotted, I’d select death without pausing.
So the other day took several decades off my life. I saw not one but two Black Widow spiders. Fortunately, Jocelyn dispatched them for me. But the damage was done: I felt like I had several concurrent heart attacks. And I will never feel safe again. Anywhere. Ever. Again.
Later, Jocelyn told me something. “I’ve never seen one in my house before. They’re rarely seen around here.”
Is that possible? I’ve never known Jocelyn to lie. Is it possible she’s never seen a Black Widow spider in her house or on her property? And she is very perceptive. She sees and remembers things at a spooky level. She nearly has me convinced that she remembers her own birth. So what could possibly be going on here?
“But I saw one,” I pointed out. “No,” I shook my head, “I saw two times more than one. I saw two.”
“They aren’t a serious threat,” she added quickly.
“They could have killed me,” I suggested.
“Unlikely. They didn’t even bite you, you big baby,” she told me. [Okay, she didn’t add the “you big baby” part. But I think she implied it].
“I could have wet myself,” I pushed back.
“Which is not deadly,” she reasoned.
“But it could have been if I slipped on the wet floor and hit my head,” I continued….
I didn’t want to admit this to her at the time, but she got me thinking. Maybe the phrase shouldn’t be “What you see is what you get.” Perhaps in my case, it should say,
“What you see is what you are looking for.“
Ever notice that when…
- you have a grudge against another that every thing that person says or does reinforces why you don’t like him?
- you decide to throw your own personal pity party that you find no shortage of things to whine about?
Certainly, the cosmos does not conspire against you by making your enemies more irritating or your woes greater just because you’re in a negative state of mind, does it? I doubt it. But when you go out of your way to look for something negative, you usually find it.
Ever notice when…
- you’re running late, you get stuck behind a slow driver?
- you have a taste for something to eat, you discover that you’ve run out?
Again, it’s unlikely that the cosmos put a slow driver in front of your car or came to your house to finish the Ben-n-Jerry’s just to mess with your mind. But you do become more aware of grievances and whine-able topics when you are in the state of mind to BE AT YOUR DESTINATION instead of ENJOYING THE JOURNEY.
So there it is. Maybe what Jocelyn was telling me was that I “see spiders because I spend time looking for spiders.”
Later that day, she joked with me.
“Maybe you can savor your time celebrating all of the spider-free moments in your life. Like right now!”
[Moments after she said this, a small spider darted across the floor. I pretended not to notice. But old habits die hard.]
Later still, we got to talking about scuba diving. I told her that was not interested in swimming in a shark’s cereal bowl. Again, she asked something like:
“Do you know how many people scuba dive each year that do NOT get eaten by sharks? Maybe you should celebrate all of the shark-free times in your life, like when we were at the beach last weekend NOT getting eaten by sharks…”
Here’s the point: If you want to see more good things, look harder for good things. If you want to see more bad things, keep looking for bad things.
I’m starting to believe this simple mantra more each day: If you don’t like what you see, you’re not looking in the right direction!
Today, I will NOT see spiders. And if I do, I will be thankful for the 99.9% of my day that is spider-free. And then I will flash a big white thigh at the spider until it scurries off…