Well, my 46th birthday came and went with very little fanfare. I spent some time with friends and family and it was all very nice, indeed. But, I did something a bit different this year. You see, last year, I started taking on a ‘fear a year’ – where I would do something completely out of my comfort zone.
I have many, MANY things that would take me out of my comfort zone. The list is endless.
I am very fortunate to work next door to our Provincial Museum. Over the years, I’ve gotten to know my neighbours very well, to the point where I can come and go freely within the building. It’s a pretty nifty place, filled with history, exhibits of all kinds and…a Bug Room.
Yes, a Bug Room. An enchanted place where you can see live and in person, bugs of all shapes and sizes – everything from stick insects to a mammoth bird eating spider.
Maybe enchanted wasn’t quite the word I was looking for. Hmmm…let’s go with terrifying instead. Yes, that’s better.
You can literally hear them scuttling about, you can watch cockroaches crawl over each other and you can even view a millipede (this one looks like it’s on steroids). But the worst thing? The spiders. All different kinds, shapes and sizes.
I hate spiders. Hated ’em since I was a kid. I remember once when I was little, playing in the basement, I saw a spider (which at the time – to me – was the size of a football), so I started screaming ‘SPIDER! SPIDER! SPIDER!’ at which point my mother came running down the stairs with a bucket of water – she thought I’d been yelling ‘FIRE!’
Now, as a grown woman of 46, I can still scream like a little girl when I find one in my house. I’d never kill one; in fact – I would scoop it up into a glass and toss it over my balcony (which is 12 storeys up, so I’m not sure if they ever make it or not). Those little black ones that run across your ceiling like Ben Johnson with the shits – I HATE those!
(You might have an inkling where I’m going with this).
I mustered up the courage to contact the guy who runs the Bug Room, Pete. I explained why and what I wanted to do and he was more than happy to accommodate my request.
So, at exactly 3:00 pm on my birthday, I made my way over to the museum – shaky, a bit queasy – but kind of excited at the same time. I met Pete in the bug lab, where they grow all of the bugs – imagine the Smithsonian Institute – but with containers of insects – row upon row of them. I made it in the front door and just sort of stopped. I’d been in there before, but this time it was different. I was gonna do it. YES, I WAS…
I WAS GONNA HOLD A TARANTULA.
Pete is amazing. He loves these creatures like they were his children. He was thrilled to be able to help me overcome my fear (now, at this point, I wasn’t sure if I was going to throw up, wet my pants or possibly just pass out). Very gently, he took Rosie from her house and put her on his hand. I stood about 10 feet back, just looking. Then, I slowly made my way over and took a good look at her. Yep, that is one big, hairy spider. Looked at her for a couple more minutes. Then, I very tentatively touched her. OMGOMGOMGOMGITOUCHEDIT! But, wait a minute. That wasn’t so bad. As a matter of fact, she’s kinda fuzzy. Like a pipecleaner. Pete then asked if I wanted to hold her and I drew in a deep breath, and said – sure. Very slowly, Pete placed Rosie in my hand. Watching her, each leg moved with exact precision as she adjusted to my hand. She was so delicate in her movements! She just sort of sat there, not moving much. For about the first 30 seconds I stood there in shock…THERE IS A GIANT TARANTULA ON MY HAND. Then I took a really good look at her. She was sort of cute, in a giant, hairy spider sort of way. And very light. Then I smiled – this wasn’t so bad! This was really cool! She started to move a little bit, which for a millisecond threw me off, but then it was neat how she sort of tickled my palm with her movements. I was smitten.
I held onto Rosie for about 10 minutes, looking at her with complete awe. What an interesting creature. Pete explained the misconception regarding tarantulas and how they’re much more afraid of us than we are of them.
I allowed Pete to put Rosie back into her house. I was beaming from ear to ear – not only because I found her fascinating, but because I did something that in a million years, I never thought I’d be able to do.
I stepped out of my comfort zone in a big, BIG way. I overcame a fear. Now, I’m not about to start collecting spiders as pets, but in the future, I will look at them in a completely different way.
Next year – ‘a fear a year’: Gonna go on a date with a nice guy. Of course, I have to find one, sedate him and brainwash him, but I think I’m up for the challenge 🙂