Thursday, November 17, 2005

My Spider Dream

When I first moved to this city, 17 years ago, I lived in a slummy apartment in the downtown area. It was both a stressful and an exhilirating time as I was in a new and vibrant place, where there was a whole world of potential, but where I was also unsure of what would come next.

I will never forget waking up suddenly in that disgusting excuse for an apartment one afternoon. I had been working nights, and I woke up in a cold sweat, with my heart pounding in abject fear. I had just dreamt of a huge seeming spider, right up close in front of my eyes.

The fear was so intense, that it took me several minutes to get a grip on myself. I remember muttering to myself, sweating, shaken. It turned out to be a good moment.

I have never been particularly afraid of spiders, as far as I can remember. So it shocked me to think how thoroughly that dream had jolted my system.

I couldn't stop thinking about it for awhile, wondering how I was could have been so vulnerable to such intense fear. Such sudden, almost debilitating fear.

And as I thought about it, I had a realization about my life. About so many other things that I have feared, or let stress me out. I realized that when I was dreaming about the spider, I was dreaming about it being close up before my eyes.

That was what frightened me. I dreamt about it up close. I magnified it. I realized that I had magnified the spider in my mind by dreaming of it up so close. When I thought about the reality, it occurred to me that I am probably at least one thousand times bigger than that spider. But naturally, if I am going to imagine it a few inches away from my eyeballs, it is going to seem like it's huge and threatening. And my limbic system...my amygdala...my primitive brain...are going to do what they do best and freak out at the image.

It was after that that I started right-sizing spiders. More importantly, I realized in the most concrete way, that I have to take responsibility for how I represent things in my own mind, or I risk stressing myself for nothing.

I still get stressed. Pretty often, really. But I have found that the lesson I pulled from my spider dream has helped me get a lot of my stressors under control. And now, when I dream of spiders, I make a special point of not dreaming of them up so close to my eyes.

Maybe my spider dream will help you, or maybe it could help somebody else. Anyway, right-size your spiders. Spread the word.


(PS: Does anybody know how many times smaller the average spider is than the average human?)

2 Comments:

Blogger Kelly said...

There's a lesson to be learned in everything. I like this post.

6:49 AM  
Blogger Mr K said...

Heh, I dunno, that sounds easier said than done.

9:19 AM  

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