“But when I reflected on all the works that my own hands had done and on all the hard work that I had toiled to accomplish, I saw that everything was futile . . .” — Solomon, Israelite king.
There it hangs, all high and swaying ever so slightly. One upward thrust of a long-handed brush later — after its fine fibers finally manage to get our attention — and away it goes.
Flipping through nature’s ever-expanding catalogue, spider silk’s vulnerability seems unmatched. While it lasts, though, this silk — spun of the dragline variety – is capable of the most outstanding feats. Woven into an intricate web and expanded to the size of a football field, it could even stop a jumbo jet in full flight!
Lighter than cotton yet stronger than steel in a pound-for-pound bout, spider silk is a stunning wonder of the natural world, boasting the potential to achieve the unimaginable if put to the test. In the end, though, most strands never get to experience that career-high of trapping a massive flying object as part of some gigantic web. Still, they almost always end up reaching considerable heights – literally, if you’d look at your ceiling right now – and, for a little while, appear undisturbed.
Such is the frustrating mystery of man’s existence. The limits of human ability have barely been touched by the race itself and — much like spider silk — we’re capable of so much more than most of us are ever able to accomplish in a lifetime.
Even so, some are able to hit heights of greatness in their chosen fields of endeavor and live lives that, for a little while, seem undisturbed. Alas, our sheer might — within the frame of our fragility — is ultimately rendered futile.
With one thrust of death’s long scythe, down we go – with all that we have, all that we are, and all that we could ever be.