Meditations on Compassion
The fragrant, warm suds overwhelmed my senses as I rinsed my hair under our perfectly tilted showerhead. I was so grateful for the ability to barely raise my right hand above my head, as I’ve been dealing with a shoulder injury that has diminished my capacity more than I’m willing to admit. Five months ago, rinsing my hair was impossible — the simplest act of hygiene felt so far away because I was forced to depend on someone else to care for me. This fucking shoulder that apparently refuses to heal has compelled me to pause and hesitate more times than I can count, yet I’m determined to remain grateful for the range of motion I’ve worked through.
I pumped a few dollops of creamy conditioner onto my palm. It wasn’t long before the pain stopped me. It was then that I saw her. A small house spider was struggling to climb up my glass shower door, hampered by the slick film of water over some stubborn soap scum. Her tiny legs were letting her down and she kept slipping, hard as she tried to reach the top of my very tall shower door.
I have a running rule about insects I find in the house: I don’t kill them. I can’t bring myself to harm them. For all they know, we’re roommates, and, especially in our arrangement with spiders, they maintain their function as long as I keep conditions favorable for their survival. They don’t scare me as long as they don’t bite me. This practice began decades ago when I rescued a large, brown spider from my mom’s pool filter.
I happened to come across a picture of the spider a few days later only to learn that it had been a brown recluse. I saved the very thing that could’ve given me necrotic dermatitis with one tiny, innocent bite.
Back to Gladys… You know, the small spider that struggled to climb my shower door? Of course, I named her; I’ll tell you more about that later. I managed to rinse most of the conditioner out of my hair and the li’l thing was still struggling to climb after I made the calculation to leave her alone because, at that point, any trickles of water I might’ve brought her way could have done more harm than good. I wanted to help her reach her destination. I grabbed an 8-inch long tube of exfoliant and pointed the…