March 15, 2012

What are you afraid of?


Good question. I seem to recall discussing this before, but what the hey!  I believe that everyone, and I mean, EVERYONE, has at least one fear. Whether it be a fear of heights, spiders, failing an exam, your partner or loved one… everyone is afraid of something.

Probably one of the biggest fears we have, especially as children, is the fear of the dark – the unknown. It is difficult to think that things are lurking in the shadows of our darkened rooms. When you close your eyes and dream, and especially if you can remember what you dreamt about, this can be quite scary and perhaps traumatic for kids.

Once we have the comprehensive skills of being able to understand that dreams are exactly that – dreams, then the ‘monsters’ seem to go away. Once our parents have been able to convince us, either by looking around or even staying with us until we fall asleep, then the nights don’t seem quite as bad.

Personally, and even to this day, my biggest fear is spiders. I hate spiders. Just watching a movie or seeing close-up photos of them, send chills up and down my spine. Seeing them for in real, in person, living in my home, makes my blood feel cold.

Now, for some people, this may be an irrational fear. Yes, I know that spiders are not the big fearful creatures as depicted in movies like “Arachnophobia”. I must say, I did watch this show, just for the the fear factor. I enjoy scary or horror movies, so to me, this was one of the scariest.

Living in Canada, the largest spiders I ever saw were probably no bigger than a quarter. Well, maybe a loonie if they stretched out their legs! Here in Taiwan, my eyes have been opened to bigger and more, how shall I say – interesting (?) spiders…

Most spiders that I ever came in contact with in Canada, were web spinning spiders. That is, they spin or create webs to catch their prey. I’m not going to go any further as to what these creatures do with their prey afterwards, as most of us have probably seen the final results. And if not, you’ve studied it in school or watched a nature show or two.

Well, not until coming to Taiwan, did I learn that there are two kinds of spiders. Those that spin webs and those that don’t. This I didn’t find out until just a couple of years ago when I decided to do a little web surfing about a particularly massive spider I had seen.

When I first came to Taiwan, I was living in a town called Gangshan. This was not by choice, mind you. The agent that I had been in contact with, dropped me off at a dinner, introduced me to the owner of the bushiban, and left. The owner, Ricky, introduced me to three other teachers, and told me that I would be sharing a house with them. Okay.

Well, it actually turned out to be quite an adventure. Not knowing anything practical about Taiwan or this little burb, I moved my stuff into the fourth floor room. So far, so good. For the next few days, two of the teachers, who had been here for a while, gave us information about where we were and what we would be doing.

All right, so what does this have to do with spiders. Well, one evening, the four of us were going to the night market. As it was a rather warm evening, I had changed into shorts, and on my way downstairs, was putting on my t-shirt. As I was walking downstairs, I noticed a ‘blotch’ on the wall. Not knowing what it was, as I passed it, I decided to take a closer look.

All of a sudden, this ‘blotch’ literally popped up off the wall! That’s when I realized what it was. It was the largest spider I had ever seen in my life. I ran down the stairs screaming like an idiot. I’m sure that the sweat was pouring off my head, my heart was racing, and I was as white as a ghost… even whiter than my normal skin colour.

Now, you have to kind of imagine what this spider did to rile me so much. Put your hand flat on your desk. Now spread out your fingers, keeping your palm flat. In one quick movement, raise your palm, but keep your fingertips on the desk. Now, imagine a spider, almost as big as your hand, doing that off a wall!

While I was trying to catch my breath and explain what I had seen, my roomies were laughing their asses off. They couldn’t believe that a big ole guy like me was scared of little spider. LITTLE! Hell, this was a dinosaur in my eyes. We go over to the wall so I could show them, and what do you know – the damn thing isn’t there! Now I panicked. I tore off my t-shirt, jumping up and down, screaming at them to get the thing off me. I was convinced that this spider had not just popped off the wall, but had ‘popped’ itself to my back!

I must admit, that with all the laughter from these roomies, it did kind of relieve the tension. I realized that the spider was no where on my person. It was not on the stairs. It was not on the wall. It had suddenly disappeared. Even better. Off we go to the night market.

By the time we got home, things were a lot calmer, but I was VERY cautious going upstairs. I did not relish the idea of having to go up to the fourth floor, partially in the dark, after having seen this spider earlier in the night. However, I had to be brave.

As I got to the third floor as I had done on the second, I looked everywhere around me to make sure there was nothing suspicious that would get me. So, I walk up slowly, and what do I see on the floor, but a blotch again. I took another step and the damn thing popped up and starting running, yes, running away from me. And, I in turn, started running from it!

I found out later that this spider is called a WOLF SPIDER.  It is the kind of spider that hunts its prey.  That is, it tracks it, then hops onto it, and well, the rest is academic.  Let’s just say that I have no intention of ever being its ‘prey’!

Last night after I got home, I was a bit shocked, although not as scared as I once was, of seeing a spider busily spinning its web on my new handmade lamp.  Rather than taking a fit, I actually pushed that tension down, and snapped a few pics of it.  Obviously it was a lot more interested in building its home on my lamp, than worrying about me snapping its picture.  I don’t know (and don’t care) what kind of spider it is.

I’m not afraid of the dark, or things that go bump in the night.  I’m not afraid of heights, or things that may or may not bite.  Spiders however, are still a bit of a fright!  Okay, so it’s not a perfect poem, but I tried!

That’s it, that’s all… for now!


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