Daily Huna 3: Car Crashes and Cane Spiders
Serge has often said we direct our own movie of life. I've asked myself several times in the last 2 months if I consciously directed certain episodes, and what might be the wider implications if I had. Rather than think of them as scenes from a horror movie, like I used to, now I prefer to look at them the way Jim Brinkley put it in his article about obstacles really being opportunities in disguise. I'm having lots of opportunities this year.
A few days before Easter I was coming home from the dentist - rather pleased with myself for having had a successful, not too stressful appointment - and crashed my sweet car Louisa right into another car, a much bigger and heavier car. She crumpled. She is totaled. She was the only one seriously hurt. I was bruised, but healed very quickly.
At least on the outside. Inside I wondered if I'd somehow engineered this whole thing - I'd just been wondering what to do about getting out of my car contract so that I could travel to Fiji. My sister said almost the same thing immediately after she heard about the wreck - maybe they'll total your car and then you won't have to worry about selling it. She wasn't the only one who said this. The amount of the payout barely exceeded the amount needed to pay off the contract. Isn't that convenient? Isn't that special? And the worst of it was that I couldn't clearly remember the seconds before it happened.
This is a particularly insidious form of fear, that wavery creature Doubt, that creeps into your mind, and makes you question yourself. I've doubted myself, and that is something I rarely do. I make it a practice not to, it just doesn't pay. When I get the FUDS (Fear, Unhappiness, Doubt, or Stress), I straight away go for the FUDS-buster - WIFM (Words, Images, Feelings, Movement) - or Why I Feel Marvelous, which is how I remember it.
I would never consciously hurt myself, anyone else, or crash my car. I loved that car. I had such a sweet relationship with her, and I believe she saved my life. I did the very best I could in the situation and my quick reactions prevented a much worse accident from happening. Those are the words I need to say. I've replaced the scary images and sounds with the memory of the sweet massage I got the next weekend and the kindness of my mechanics when they heard. I love those guys. They took such loving care of Louisa. And I've continued to move forward with my life.
I had a couple of choices - be paralyzed with fear and never drive again (which would necessitate moving back to the bus line since I live 24 miles from work), or get back in a car and drive again. In recent years I've liked to characterize myself as fearless. "Fear is the little maker", I would quote to myself, "fear makes up stories, you could just make up another story instead." I said this so many times, I came to believe it, and I got over many of my fears. But I'm not immune. I shudder when I think about going to the dentist. I'm not fond of spiders.
I was really afraid to drive for weeks afterward. But I did drive because I just refuse to paralyzed by fear, and I drove a whole series of big rental cars. I think the Budget people thought I'd feel more protected, but it was actually more stressful because I had no idea where the edges were, after driving a tiny compact car. I did a lot of mental Dynamind. I wasn't taking my hands off that wheel to tap, but I did the breathing and worked with the statement "I have anxiety and this can change. I want this anxiety to go away. Make it happen, make it so." Then I'd mentally tap my chest, hand points, and the back of my neck. After a piko-piko breath, I'd measure how anxious I was. It never took more than 3 rounds to completely settle me down.
I like the first part of Dynamind, because it's so hopeful. Yes, I may be in a particular state, but this can change! Just acknowledging that change is possible starts to break up the situation. The tapping subtly relaxes the body. The final part of Dynamind, where you take a good long focused breath and then evaluate for change is really effective for me. When I'm caught up in anxiety, it really breaks it up to take a moment and stand outside it and more or less objectively evaluate its actual level. I was at a 9, now I'm at a 8. I was at an 8, now it's 5. It was a 5, and wow, now it's gone altogether. I can be having fun again. I used to just get so mired in it that I wouldn't always notice when it dissipated, and the tension would linger after the actual emotion had gone.
I was sitting in my office late one night, weeks after the wreck, writing on the computer. I looked up on the wall and saw a huge cane spider, just sitting there looking at me. A cane spider looks sort of like a tarantula, maybe a bit bigger. They are generally considered to be harmless, rather timid, and a good friend to the tropical household, since they eat both cockroaches and mosquitoes. Gee, they sure are BIG, though... and fast, and they jump. My heart jumped, too, when I saw it. "YIKES, that is the biggest spider I have ever seen," I squeaked to myself, "I'm getting out of here." Never taking my eyes off it for a moment, I put my computer to sleep, grabbed my bag, and edged toward the door. I wanted to wake my housemate up to help me get it out of there, but I knew she absolutely would not appreciate being awakened at 2 a.m. Her probable reaction was scarier than the spider!
Once outside the door, I thought "there was no spider, I direct my own movie, I just made that up, it won't be there if I open the door and look again." NOT. It was there, big as life, my fear looking straight at me. I shut the door again. I went off to bed and lay there thinking, "I should get out the vacuum cleaner and suck that puppy up." But it wasn't harming me and I couldn't bring myself to do it. Instead, I thought about animal guides. I have fostered an active intention for the last 3 years to work with and learn from animal guides. And now when I had one, when I was getting what I'd asked for, I was afraid of it, I wanted something more familiar and appealing, like a kitten.
Spiders are interesting. (At least in theory - when they're nowhere near me!) They have folded lungs, like books. They are patient masters of balance. They often live in the dark. Across many cultures, they are seen as the Dreamweaver, the grandmother weaving the past, present, and future into the web of life, a symbol of creativity.
Ted Andrews, in his book "Animal Speak" says, "To many, there was an alphabet even more primordial. It was formed by the geometric patterns and angles found within spider's webs. To many this was the first true alphabet. This is why spider is considered the teacher of language and the magic of writing. Those who weave magic with the written word probably have a spider totem."
So there I was, weaving a web of words, and what a gift to receive a visit from this totem. I laid there in bed, and sent it a blessing and a mahalo. And then I asked it to leave my office. I am not always completely comfortable with what I've asked for!
And I don't always get it the first time, either. Duh.
The next week I was sitting in the Aloha International Heartquarters office in Princeville, working away at the computer, when a small bird suddenly flew into the office. This was a first, even though I have the door wide open most days. I quickly closed the door to the Hawaiian art museum and started trying to figure out how to get it to leave. I have always been a little afraid of birds, even though they often come on spirit journeys with me. They symbolize change, and freedom, and letting go of restriction. Kala - there are no limits. We are all connected.
I wanted to leave for the day and I wasn't going to leave it in there. I tried all sorts of things to get it to leave. I tried to shoo it out it out of the windowsill. It flew to the top of the latticed divider. I tried to encourage it again toward the door and it returned to the window. I explained to it that I wasn't going to take the second-story window screens out and let it out that way because I wasn't sure I could get them back in. I mentally drew it a little golden flight line to the door. I stood at the door waving it back and forth to create a draft and attract it over there again. It watched me carefully during this activity, no doubt wondering what sort of loony bin it had fallen into, but then returned to looking out the window.
I got a broomstick and tried to encourage it to hop on it and be carried out. The poor thing was visibly stressed at this point, hopping back and forth over the broomstick. What was the madwoman going to do to it next? I had to laugh. I sat down and said to myself, "What would Susan do?" It came to me right away: think more about the welfare of that wee suffering critter and less about whether it might offer to peck you, and go and pick it up and help it outdoors. And that is exactly what I did. I told it what I was going to do and why, and then I just picked it up and carried it outside. It did not offer to peck me. When I opened my hands, it collected itself and flew away. Awesome. Thank you, Susan.
There's no tidy ending to this story, just the realization that fear can keep us from holding a tiny wild creature in our hands, feeling its beating heart as it relaxes into the experience with trust. Fear keeps us holding our darkness instead. If we open our hands and hearts, we can invite the wild creatures in, learn from them, and honor their presence in our lives. We can let go of our fears and drive out into the light.
[Top of page]
Copyright 2003 Aloha International