Opus vs Swan Song

Ok, this post is going to meander a bit so be patient. Sit back with your cup of whatever, and join me in my recap of the last 24  hours. I think it has been an interesting trip, but you’ll have to decide. I’ve included some audio/visual additions where they fit contextually, but you can watch/listen at your leisure…

I’ve been struggling lately (like everyone else) with isolation, and also fear about the shape of our world. Mostly in the big picture though. If I look at too big a chunk of life, I can’t avoid questions like “How have we survived the last 9 horrific Covid and FIRE and political months?”, and “What the heck is going to happen next?”

But when I hunker down into the current moment, I am fine. It’s there I can still find the uplifting, and endless miracles in life. Like right now…as I write this…the feisty wind and pouring rain outside are demonstrating their disruptive power but I am warm and dry. Lucy (my cat) is a mere two feet away…close enough to reach out and pet. (She has that special kind of cat fur… so soft, it’s comforting just to stroke it.) And I am writing this on a computer. Electricity, the internet, cats, this device…all miracles.


One of the small things I have been doing regularly to lift my spirits for these many months, is to keep a small handful of fresh flowers in a tiny cobalt crackle glass cream pitcher. Brings a smile every time I see it. 


Yesterday when I was changing out the finished flowers for a new batch, a terrifying little spider darted right out of the old bunch, and danced across my hand. I’ve talked about this before and still have not resolved my strong bias against spiders. This prejudice has been highlighted in the last 10 years, by my complete love of Extatosoma tiaratum, my Giant Spiny Stick Bugs. How can I love one anthropod, but so hate another?? All the same species, right? (Hmmm, another post in the making here on racial prejudice…)

Anyway, I have to confess, I saw that spider and panicked!  Without even realizing I was doing it, I killed the spider. You can laugh here if you want…but those who know me will not be surprised that I agonized over my thoughtless action…even had a very deep “guilt cry” over it. I felt terrible, sick to my stomach at my actions, for several hours.

So that is the space I was in when I picking what show to watch on Netflix with James last evening. 

Not knowing what it was, but just because I am a fan, I chose David Attenborough’s “A Life on Our Planet”.

Here’s where the whole idea of a Swan Song vs an Opus came in.

There is a timeless legend that swans are mute all their lives but at the end, sing a singular beautiful song. This doesn’t really apply to David Attenborough. He certainly has not been “mute” all his life. His “songs” have moved me to tears and action, ever since I was a kid. I credit him for my early adoption of the philosophy that animal life is every bit as sacred as human life. And that “anthropomorphism” is just a fancy word someone made up because they had never been in love with an animal.

You cannot tell me cats and dogs do not feel emotions.

10 years ago when I was gifted with my first Giant Spiny Leaf Bug, (yikes!) hearing all about my Bug from my childhood hero, David Attenborough, helped me fall the in love with them.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uppwVyUd5S0 (First three minutes are about my bugs!!! )

And as for Sir Attenborough’s Swan Song, his latest spectacular work could easily not be his last. He is only 93 after all…

So maybe his most recent production, is more like his Opus.

Whatever we call it, in classic Attenborough style, this documentary is moving, thought provoking, brutally honest and in the final analysis, hopeful and inspiring.

Please, please watch this movie. And then, please share this film with all the  people you love in your life, especially the younger ones. If they resist, even if you have to play your Parent or Grandparent card, ask them to watch it for YOU! 

Maybe even include this music video: quite catchy really…

Swan Song by Dua Lipa

Anyway, back to my “trip”.

After watching the film, I had another good cry, this time having tapped into that currently painful Big Picture of life I have been so consciously avoiding. Searching for the relief of being in the moment (Thanks Ram Das) I went to look at my Bugs. I have 8 right now, but they are all that’s left from this year’s hatchings, which totaled about 40 baby bugs. (I give them away to teachers, or parents wanting to provide learning for their kids.) I walked through that room, and then another to get to the bathroom, the scene of my earlier crime….Spider-cide.

The first thing I noticed in my bright white bathroom was another spider, on the ceiling….but wait, on closer inspection, it was NOT an Arachnid. It was a Baby Bug!!!

To appreciate the miracle of this…the bugs finished hatching about 5 weeks ago, so this little girl was a shock. And the distance from where they hatch to the bathroom ceiling has to be the equivalent of a couple hundred human walking miles. No idea how she made it this far. These bugs don’t ever “walk”, except to climb up and out of danger, in the minutes after they are born.

I gently captured this intrepid female creature, and took her back to the Bug Home, a huge terrarium filled with food, and her sister bugs! (Witnessing ten years of parthenogenisis is another miracle…and probably still another essay!)

I don’t know how to end this today except to say, watch this movie. It’s not too late for your kids and grandkids to see the miracles of our lifetime, even the ones we all took for granted.

And if you need to, forgive yourself. Guilt is a nasty block to finding the miracles in our presence right here…right now.

As always, but more than ever these days, I appreciate comments. Thanks for reading!


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Thought a blog might help me develop better writing habits so I could finally finish my book, 16 years in the writing, but so far it's mostly photos and FUN!

10 thoughts on “Opus vs Swan Song”

  1. Sir David Attenborough has been an anchor in our natural world in association with humans for all my adult life and I so appreciate his ability to share that with us in such and honest and forthright way. This film is both ominous and heart lifting but its truths are without question, imminent. It is up to us as shared beings on this planet to make critical choices without delay if we value the future for our heirs. We’ve had the advantage of living through the golden age of nature and technology. Now we have to choose what will happen after our lives are done. This national election will determine whether we are serious about or even willing to address the issues Sir Attenborough discusses. I hope that we are, and like you, willing to do what is necessary. Please, join this urging and watch this film. And pass it on.

  2. Sometimes – when you are feeling depressed-ish, a small thing – like killing a spider as a reaction – can just be the last straw. (I say this from experience.)

  3. I have been keeping fresh flowers in the house too, their beauty is a pick me u. That little bug is symbolic of the will to survive and thrive as we will too, coming through this on the other side. Spiders except for daddy long legs I just cannot tolerate seeing… sorry to say I end their lives everytime I see one. I try not to think of the coming days, what will be and do have a good cry now and then, I keep saying we are living through history and pray a vaccine that is safe will come sooner than later. <3 <3

    1. Thanks for such a thoughtful response Lisa. I loved the symbolism of that little bug too. I could almost see her as a signal of absolution or something for killing her distant cousin. 😏
      you hang in there too!

  4. I may be weird or an outlier but I like spiders. I admire their resourcefulness, the beautiful webs they spin, and their patience in waiting for prey. They are so varied in color, shape, size, and tenacity. Inside I will sometimes “nudge” them to another location of my liking (sorry, I don’t consider their preference); outside I’m not bothered too much except when I run into (literally) their webs and I peel that fine netting from my face. All this being said I do have a particular rodent on my “do not like or tolerate well” list. Hopefully this list gets shorter and shorter as I mature. Can I love myself even in this situation?” Keep breathing slow and steady, I tell myself.

    1. Great, thought provoking comment. Makes me realize I agree with your spider stance. I just react badly when I am surprised. (Childhood traumas?? Black Widow bite, tarantula in my sleeping bag, scorpion in my shoe, etc.)
      I’m going to keep working on the admiration I too feel. Thanks!

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