Outdoor Writers Association of America
This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

October11th, 1999

Spiders and Other Fears

Fall Artwork
I've got a persistent spider. Actually a lot of them. Some are a little uneven in their work, I can't tell if they were diverted from their building process, or repaired a web some large bug flew through, but some webs are 'original' to say the least.

I really don't like spiders much. I can appreciate the complexity of their existence, and do marvel at the beauty of their webs. And even though I have tried to learn enough about them so as not to be afraid of them, it didn't work. I must confess I did watch with absolute fascination a trap-door spider who lived in my little back-door garden in Michigan years ago. He was a very clever fellow.

Somewhere a long time ago I read that if you really learned about the things you fear, you can come to grips and overcome the fear.

JC and I were at the Natural Science Museum at Brigham Young University some years ago and while JC was off discussing something with the curator, I was observing a large shelf full of very big specimen jars. I thought it would be neat to take a closer look, since the critters in the jars were spiders, and obviously couldn't 'get' me. Here was an opportunity to really learn something about them.

As I sat on the edge of a long library table, with the jar between my hands, JC and the curator returned. I turned the jar around, trying to get a better view, just as the spider moved! It wasn't dead! Opps! With all the courage I could muster I very carefully returned the jar to its place on the shelf. It was a huge tarantula (with blue eyes!) I didn't scream, but I sure wanted to.

The really odd part of this is there was a resident snake resting on the same table I was sitting on. It was an eight-foot (or larger) boa, which the Museum used in teaching kids about snakes. I rather liked him. Perhaps because he looked like he was smiling.

We probably all have an oddity or two. Things we are afraid of, things maybe we'd like to try, or learn about but don't. I wonder what it is that keeps us from doing those things. Is is flat fear? Or not wanting to appear stupid? Or is it too much effort? Have we become lazy?

Maybe that applies to fly fishing too. Have you always wanted to tie flies - but haven't? Or learned a new tying technique? Maybe fished for a different species? Or saved up for a special trip? Or learned another casting method? Wanted to cast a different kind of rod? Build your own rod? Fish somewhere different? Fish saltwater? Teach a spouse, friend, or kid?

Fall is in the air, a long winter ahead. What is the spider you have avoided? ~ LadyFisher

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