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Nov 22, 2017
I felt a pinch near my eyebrow and brushed my hand past the area, thinking it was some kind of small flying insect. I was busy working on my iPhone while my kids played next to me on the school playground after school.
What WAS that? Why did I keep feeling these little bites? I didn’t see any flies around, but to be honest, I didn’t see much of anything except my cell phone screen.
Being an artist, I work from home. All painting, marketing, and social media management is done by me alone and much of it is in the ‘between times’. Between school drop off and pick up, between school pick up and dinner, moments stolen when I’m not actively engaged in something else. It is rare when I have an unbroken stretch of more than 2-3 hours to work.
That is why I was there at 2:30 in the afternoon on a chilly and overcast Seattle day, on a playground, staring at my phone. I felt pulled in two directions- on one hand, I would love to be just hanging out. On the other hand, I had so much to do!
I felt like ‘that parent’. The one staring at their phone while their kids play. I felt like posting a sign- “It’s not what it looks like- I’M WORKING”.
I had already missed a group mentoring call I was looking forward to that day, because it happened to start right at the time I had to pick up the first kid from school. By the time I got home from picking up the other, it would be too late to jump on the call. I was feeling guilty for missing it, so I suppose that was why I felt even more pushed to ‘be productive’. The to-do list of a self-employed artist is long, especially in the middle of the ‘holiday push’- which feels like a marathon of finishing paintings, writing blog posts, social media marketing, and list building. After a morning task had taken longer (but turned out better!) than expected, I was feeling the pressure of that list.
‘I haven’t gotten enough done today!’ I lamented to myself as I hurried to post a photo and caption on Instagram.
There it was again. What IS that?! I swiped my hand again past my eyebrow.
Finally I finished what could be done at that time, so I looked up and attempted to be present, but was still feeling scattered and distracted.
Time to go.
I collected my children off of the various playground structures and somewhat grumpily lead them to the car. As I was helping my daughter get all her things in the backseat, I saw something out of the corner of my eye.
A wee spider was hanging from an invisible thread in front of my face. The thread was attached to my hair. The pinching. I had found the culprit.
“Well, hello!”, I said to the small being as I gently lifted it by its silk. It hung from my finger quietly.
“I hear you”, I said; and slowly walked it over to the grass. The tiny Life moved away from me, under a blade of grass, and out of sight.
I hear you Spider. Your body is small, but the lesson I can learn is big.
Pinch. Be present.
Pinch. Look around.
Pinch. Your list can wait, as nature is calling you.
I have so much gratitude for this tiny messenger of wisdom. Yes, the hustle is real and there are things I need to do to be successful. My work is for the animals and for the Earth; and I can do more to help them if people know that I am here, doing what I do.
However, it’s also important to take a break. Breathe the air that we have been given. See the tiny miracles all around us. Even on a landscape of concrete, turf, and mulch- there is so much nature to be found.
A crow sits watchfully on top of a fence.
A squirrel scampers up one of the giant beautiful cedars that frame the entrance to the space.
A red leaf falls quietly to the ground, its hue accented on the grey concrete.
And...when I’m really lucky...an eagle flies overhead, circling before continuing on its journey.
All inspiring, all asking to be seen, experienced, learned from.
As I write this, Spider shares another message woven into the web of that experience on the playground:
Never underestimate the power of tiny bites.
You may feel as if your to-do list is never ending or feel discouraged that the actions you can get done aren’t big enough to make a difference, to move you forward in the world.
I understand. That’s how I was feeling.
So let us consider that tiny Spider, one tiny nibble at a time, bringing into the world a message much bigger than herself.
Thank you, Spider, for choosing me as your mode of transportation. It was an honor to give you a ride.
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