We live by the river: all very nice. The view is beautiful and there is much to admire. On balmy sunny days we enjoy a slow walk up along the bank, past a lock to where the shops and cafes are to enjoy a nice cup of coffee and grumble about life in our harmless domestic manner.
We are not alone in enjoying the local habitat. Birds in many forms enjoy it too, plus the odd fox, squirrel and other wildlife. Some of these species are more welcome than others. For reasons I am not sufficiently educated to speculate on, spiders also seem very fond of the this environment, and quite a number of them gather on our windows. Being three stories up, and the windows designed as they are, there is little more we can do but admire their busy housebuilding hunting and dietary habits as they spin their lives away on the other side of the glass. I am an observor by nature so the chance to study them at length is something i enjoy.
However, life being what it is, some of these industrious fellows seem to tire of life on the outside and can be found constructing a new home on the ceiling, between chairs, or just scuttling urgently across the carpet and under the sofa, no doubt to attend some urgent meeting we are unaware of. In my baffling and possibly irritating way I am fairly tolerant of their comings and goings and always watch their movements with interest. My partner is not as hospitable on this matter as I, and often I am forced to ask them to leave employing a glass and a piece of paper so they can renew their exploration of the world outside our home.
The nature of insects, as far as I can gather, is not over complex in comparison to man. One spider of the same sub species is pretty much identical in character to the next so that when you understand the lifestyle of one you can understand the lifestyle of all. As we move up the food chain things get harder to read until your finally reach the baffling variety of motivations and instincts present in man.
In a crisis we can react in a million different ways, sometimes startling or even shocking ourselves by our response and the moment of self discovery. Emotions rise out of the deep washing away so many of our preconceptions till we are left gasping and clinging onto some dear memory or memento of a happier time. Most of all I am struck by how many people say how little they know about themselves and what moves them, so skillful do we become at sheltering from unwelcome intrusion by others or ourselves. Learning about the outside world can be less threatening and shock free than examining our own motives and nature.
We can seem to be in harmony with ourselves, and with our partners till some event rips aside that cosy presumption demonstrating that the person we loved and trusted has become a familiar stranger. We can become metaphors for each others lives, and lenses through which we each examine the passing world. In time we view the behaviour of our friends or partners as being as predictable as those of spiders, and that is where the danger lies. We are, and always will be, on some levels, a mystery.
Thoughts can develop which we feel we cannot share till an unspoken gulf emerges between our behaviour and our feelings. Like the voyage into space or deep beneath the ocean, an honest self-examination can be full of discovery, shock and surprise. Thinking this I remind myself that it is unwise to become complacent about our own feelings or those of the people we love. As I find so often in these journals complacency often comes before the storm. As a sailor will tell us, “enjoy the ocean on which you sail but be ready for all eventualities”.