Tiny Teachers

Well, maybe this particular one is not so tiny. I took the photo of this piece, created by artist Louise Bourgeois at the roof garden of SF MOMA.

We live on a houseboat, and every morning, I have this ritual: With coffee in one hand and cobweb duster pole in the other, keeping up with the spider webs is an ongoing enterprise. They too seem to like life on the water, and I reckon business must be good for them here.

Yesterday I had this epiphany (what took me so long?). My 8 footed friends, (actually, I seriously doubt they consider me their friend) are offering me a valuable teaching – and this despite my relentless destruction of not only their homes, but also of their food supply,

It occurred to me that I have been witnessing a truly remarkable model of patience and persistence kindly offered to me with my morningly coffee.

These creatures set up shop in what they perceive to be a strategic location, build a gorgeous structure (an architectural marvel really – have a really careful look the next time you get a chance). Then, it’s wait patiently and trustingly for a client to come along, and don’t eat until…whenever. And that’s in a NORMAL situation, without “terminator” Michael coming along and wrecking everything –  DAILY!

Yikes!! I wonder. Could I demonstrate this level of patience and persistence, if my home and livelihood was under attack EVERY DAY? Actually, I really don’t wonder. I doubt I could accomplish “spider standards”. I do have a lifelong friend though – an interior designer by trade –  who does manifest patience, persistence (and courage) at that level. He inspires me.

So, now I find my self transformed into a fan of these critters. They are teacher. I am respectful student. Of course, I haven’t the least intention of letting them overrun me, but now I find myself rooting for and thanking them. I’ve concluded that if they weren’t getting by somehow at my place, they would have moved on by now. I mean, it’s been 3 years that we’ve been in this relationship, so on some level, it’s working for all of us.

I’ve also noticed that I’m allowing a few of the webs I see to pass scrutiny – not being as meticulous as I was at first – on purpose.  “I think I’ll leave this one alone today. It’s still pretty small and really not in my way yet.”

It’s very well known that there exists, and has always existed, great wisdom and knowledge among the indigenous peoples of the world – wisdom not acquired from books. There were no books. So, I reckon that their accumulated learning was attained by paying careful attention to what they were observing, (especially in nature), considering what they were observing, and then opening to the lessons offered.


Books are great, Books are hugely important, but they are far from being the only source of knowledge and wisdom.

For sure you can read it, but that doesn’t mean that you will even remember it, let alone “get it”.

On the subject of remembering, and “getting” the lessons, especially in books, I’d like to share a sweet teaching on this very subject from Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (not the musician).

This comes to mind because of my own personal experience with this phenomenon:

If you were here, and able to look inside my own books, you’d see many, many pages folded down, then underlined, then highlighted, and then on top of all that –  paper clips.All of this in a futile, ridiculous attempt to remember everything I read so I can call on it instantly, when I need it – as though I was hitting the return key on my iMac. Ha! What a joke!

Anyway, what Sri Sri says about all this: “If you think of your ignorance as the dirt on your body, and your learning as  the soap you use when you bathe, would you ever think of rinsing off the dirt but not the soap? Of course not! You rinse everything off, and just so, you are transformed.”

So too, with information from books, lectures, and life. Some stuff will stick. Other stuff not. Let it go and don’t worry about it. You are remembering way more than you realize, and being transformed by it.

Practice Tip:

Next time you see a spider weaving a web, instead of going to “EEW!!!”, take the opportunity instead to ask yourself  “Am I, like spider, weaving my dreams, core values and intentions into reality? Am I using my creative opportunities? Or, am I “victim” – stuck in the web, unable to move, waiting…..? What’s holding me back? What am I waiting for?”

Dear Reader, in this new year, and in all those to come, please be kind to yourself,



About Michael Scott

Michael Scott is a life coach, author and teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area. After spending 35 years in business - coaching found him - and he's never looked back. Michael uses his coaching training and experience, in the service of his clients, as their constant and loving guide towards joyous, fulfilling lives which are genuinely their own. He lives with his dear wife in Sausalito, CA.

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