Sitting on a dock. A dock on a lake, bored.

I used to think I could be the keeper, the owner of small things. The little hole in a leaf eaten away by a hungry insect, the half-submerged pinecone on the waters edge, rotting, turning moss green at its tips, the dried flower, dead, gray as iron, shattering between my fingertips: all my little secrets.

A blade of grass hugs the soil and hangs a few inches over the Jello-wire water. A spider spins a strand from the top to the root, then another below it. He’s so little! He goes up and down this blade of grass, walking every inch of it. His web gets bigger, it starts to take shape. “You’re sick,” I think, “but you get the job done.”

I think, then, how special this little spider is. Every moment he has lived, until now, has been part of a formula that has brought him inevitably to this piece of grass today. And I too, have always in my 19 years of life, been destined to sit and watch this spider. Our paths in this universe have collided, despite the odds.

For example: If a bird landed next to any one of this spider’s billions of ancestors and decided to eat it, no spider spinning a web on a beat piece of grass today. Multiply that by the odds he was born and survived and that I was born and survived and you realize that we’re some lucky dudes.

I need a jar. I take off my shoe and carefully place it over the spider and his web so he won’t run away, then book it to my house. I dump the remains of a Ragu pasta sauce jar into the sink and run back to the dock. Out of breath, I carefully pick up the shoe and gently feel for my friend. As I ponder the chance that my friend will bite me, and whether he’s poisonous or not, I feel the slightest crunch under my finger. Sorry, friend.

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