The Itsy Bitsy Spider


So I was taking a shower after my evening run and I noticed the tiniest of spiders struggling to cross the wall away from the spray of the water. In general I don’t mind spiders: I don’t really want them on me, but I generally don’t have a problem with them in the house or the wild.

I felt a little sorry for this guy: he would run a few steps and then slip on the moisture in the wall and huddle down for a few minutes before making another run for it. Looking at this spider made me realize how small it was and how huge I was in comparison. Here was a creature so much smaller than me that we might as well be living on different planets for how much our life experiences would overlap.

I wasn’t afraid of this itsy bitsy spider in the shower, but I wanted to be fair: what if it were a really big spider? What if I were only one hundred times bigger than the spider instead of a thousand times bigger? I tried to think of the biggest spider I’d ever seen in real life: a female golden orb weaver in South Carolina: with the span of her legs she was easily the size of my hand. This was the biggest and most impressive spider I’d ever seen, and while I never ever want to touch one, I found her more interesting than frightening. And if I was frightened I could console myself with the thought that I was still a hundred times her size and could kill her with a stomp.

Considering this, it seemed funny to think that humans should be afraid of spiders. Certainly venomous spiders are worthy of caution, but for the most part humans are so much more massive and powerful that a spider that fear seems like a completely irrational response. Just how much power does one need in order to not be afraid?

I suppose that the answer is that no amount of power truly makes us invulnerable. Lately I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the impending burst of the student loan bubble and the consequences for students, universities, and our culture at large. My sister linked me an article about the entire first year MFA class at the USC school of fine arts walking out of the program in protest. This is a group of seven students, which is comparatively small in relation to the university as a whole, but I imagine that is still a pretty big spider on the wall for university administrators who just want to enjoy commencement season and get on with summer break. I don’t say this to be disparaging towards the university or the students, but I can’t help but feel like it is the first drop in an ocean of oncoming Reality Check.

It’s not a question of if the student loan bubble will burst: it’s a question of when.

I expect that it is going to be an economic event on par with the housing bubble and a corresponding impact to the markets. I expect there will be backlash when, at a certain point, tuition will only be within the reach of the wealthy and we will have to examine our attitudes about class and equality and educational opportunity. Compared to this problem, I am a very itsy bitsy spider indeed.

I suppose that the moral of the story, if there is one, is that sometimes you get to be the human and sometimes you get to be the itsy bitsy spider and that no amount power will make you feel unafraid when you have to face one another.

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~ by Gwydhar Gebien on May 15, 2015.

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