While walking on the boardwalk that connects my townhome with nine others, I stopped to watch a spider busily building a magnificent web. Then the wind picked up and blew the web back and forth like it was a trampoline. A few minutes later, I saw the web blown into oblivion and I was sure the spider had flown with it. The next day, I was amazed me to see the spider reconstructing a new masterpiece.

The whole incident reminded me of the nursery rhyme I used to sing to my kids when they were little about an itsy-bitsy spider. Here are the lyrics.

      Itsy-Bitsy Spider 

The itsy-bitsy spider climbed up the water spout
Down came the rain and washed the spider out
Out came the sun and dried up all the rain
And the itsy-bitsy spider climbed up the spout again

The fun of singing this rhyme with my babies was to watch them mirror the corresponding gestures, ones parents have been teaching their children throughout the ages. I didn’t suspect at the time that the rhyme contained one of life’s most powerful lessons; shit happens, but you have to live on.

Things in everyday life offer inspiration

I remember the first time I discovered as an adult that’

The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.

I was laid off from my engineering job from a private design and construction company. This was frightening, I thought my world would come tumbling down. My wife and I had been married just a few years, and we had barely qualified for the mortgage to purchase our new home. Without my salary, we were sure to lose it.

It is one thing to face loss when you are a child. Ultimately, adults come to your rescue. But it is quite different to face a major loss as an adult. This is because you become aware your powers may not be enough to save the day. This realization leaves you carrying barrels of self-doubt.

It is part of life to get washed out by a rain of problems. The deluge comes in many forms, a divorce, job loss, bankruptcy, serious illness or a bad accident. Sometimes they come in pairs or in threes. Populations around the world endure more serious rain like war, poverty and famine.

But despite what affects your life, the best alternative is to move on and hope for a better tomorrow.

Spider lessons

If I lived a past life as a spider, I don’t remember it. This means I have no way of knowing if a spider feels anger, remorse, or becomes depressed when the rain washes him/her out. I don’t know if they complain to friends or blame God for what happened to them. Whatever it is they do, the first chance the spider gets he/she is out there rebuilding a web.

 Lesson 1) The sun comes up tomorrow

Whether prince or pauper, you cannot avoid the rain from coming down. You will fail and face pain and loss. This is part of the birth/death/rebirth cycles of life. The spider knows, when the rain comes, he/she will have to let go of what he/she built and take refuge until it is safe to come out again. Arachnoids learned throughout the centuries that, if they hang in there, the sun will come out again. Just as their ancestors did before them, the spider is certain he/she will go up the spout again.

 Lesson 2) Anything is possible when you commit to living one step at a time

There is no “save” button in life. When you experience a life chapter ending, the new beginning will require you to start from scratch. Like the spider, you don’t start from zero, you have a greater foundation of knowledge from which to start that you gained from your experiences This can help you eliminate faulty alternatives and pursue ones that will work. Rebuilding a new life out of the ashes of the old will require you to take one step at a time, but you will accomplish things you never thought were within your reach.

Lesson 3) We have more than one masterpiece in us

As I reflect on my life, the changes I experienced—no matter how painful they were at the time—were for my benefit. They made me better, stronger, resilient, more spiritual, open to new ideas and beliefs. They opened the door to greater ways of being.

Getting laid off forced me to take a job with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). This was the best thing that ever happened to my career. It was at CDOT that Governor Roy Romer selected me to head the organization. At the time of my job loss, the idea that something like this could happen to me was beyond my wildest dreams, yet, there I was, a one-time orphan serving as part of a governor’s cabinet.

When a change in the gubernatorial administration changed, the rain came again; the new governor asked me to resign from my political appointment as head of CDOT.

I found new work with the city of Denver as its manager of public works. Unbeknownst, another career miracle  was unfolding for, seven years later, I would become the 44th mayor of the city. Little by little, I did what was in front of me, building one step upon the other. I didn’t realize until later that every time a washout made me start over it gave me the chance to build a new masterpiece.

This same phenomenon applies to you. You can create a wonderful new life after every ending.


Beginnings and endings are part of life. They are neither good nor bad; they happen. Learn from the spider, start anew when the sun shines again. A masterpiece awaits you.

As always, wishing you a life filled with joy, love and serenity.