Saturday, February 18, 2017
Lies the Spider Told Me, Part 3: A Fable
Once there was a woman who loved her daughter very much. But it had been a long time since they spoke regularly, and she had not heard from her daughter in several months. On this particular day, she was thinking about this and feeling very sad while making her breakfast.
Just then, she noticed a spider crawling up the wall. Because the woman was a wise old witch, as many mothers are, she knew this was no ordinary spider. It was none other than Anansi, trickster, teacher, and king of all stories.
"Please, can you help me?" she asked the spider. "I'm afraid my daughter doesn't love me anymore."
"I'm always glad to listen," Anansi said. His deep baritone voice boomed comically from the tiny spider body. "What's going on?"
"Well, I haven't heard from her for a long time," lamented the woman. "She hasn't called, or written, or come by to visit me. She must not have room in her life for her old mother anymore."
"And what happened when you called her, or wrote her a letter, or stopped by her house to say hello?" Anansi asked.
The woman shook her head. "I couldn't do that. I know she doesn't want to hear me. If she did, she'd have been in touch by now."
Anansi burst out laughing. "You humans are so silly sometimes," he said.
The woman's face grew red and hot with anger. "How dare you laugh at my pain when I came to you for advice?" she shouted.
"Your pain is real," said the spider. "Now let me show you the mistake that created it. It's true that your daughter might not care about you anymore, and if so, you have my sympathy. But set aside that explanation for a moment and think of another one."
The woman pondered, and soon tears were welling up in her eyes. "How could I be so insensitive? She must be sick, or injured, or in trouble. She could even be dead!"
Anansi laughed again. "Also true, but now set that story aside and think of another."
"Hmm..." said the woman. "She could just be busy with work or her friends. She always did make too many plans..."
"Good," said Anansi. "Why else?"
The woman thought, and then suddenly smiled. "She could be in love! That's so overwhelming. Why didn't I think of that before?"
"Because you were too attached to the first story you thought of. Even though you didn't like it," Anansi replied. "Now you see the lesson. A great storyteller once said, 'Our lives become the stories that we weave.' So you must always try to spin tales that empower, tales that comfort, tales that transform not just your friends or your family or your community, but most of all yourself.