Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Life Lesson from the Ants

As I feel about all animals in the animal kingdom, I believe there is a lot we can learn from our friends the ants. Of course, we've all heard tale of their great teamwork - how they work together to carry large objects much heavier than any one could carry alone or how they build elaborate mazes in their ant hills. I suppose there are all sorts of things we could learn from these creatures, but they taught me something brand new last week.

For the past several weeks, we have had an ant problem in our kitchen. Our wonderful landlords responded promptly, as always, and had the pest control folks out to our house the day after this unfortunate discovery took place. The pest control people left this sticky substance in the corners of our cabinets which supposedly works like this: the ants are attracted to it, they gather it up in their little ant fashion and take it back to share with the colony thinking it's a real treat, only it's poison and it kills off the whole colony. [Sort of sad, isn't it?] That's how it's supposed to work. Instead, it actually must have been a real treat, because weeks later the ants were still enjoying it and flocking in greater numbers than ever to come try this new substance. Our kitchen has become something of a hot spot for the neighborhood ants. Although this has been a bit annoying, I'm so relieved that it's ants and not something else. I am neither scared of nor grossed out by ants, so if there's going to be some sort of problem, I'd prefer it to be an ant problem! If it were roaches, spiders, or anything of that disturbing nature, we'd have a REAL problem on our hands. But I digress...

So the other morning, feeling Christmasy and cozy, I made a cup of hot tea and went to fetch the honey to sweeten it up a bit. To my dismay, when I picked up the honey, I found a little ant attempting to crawl into the lid. He wasn't having much success. I turned the honey bottle around to inspect it from another angle and found that all of his friends had the same goal in mind as well. These guys had managed to crawl down inside the crack of the lid and were dangerously close to their goal. I wasn't sure whether it were actually possible for them to reach the honey because of the screw-cap lid, but of course I wasn't going to proceed with using it in this state. Not knowing what else to do, I unscrewed the lid with plans to wash these poor suckers down the drain. That was, apparently, my fatal flaw. The second the lid came loose, those sugar scavengers had a green light into their honey wonderland. At this point, I was a bit grossed out, I must admit. No one wants little creatures making themselves at home in your honey. I quickly screwed the lid back on and set the whole thing down in the sink. My tea would have to be sweetened with sugar that day. I looked down at the bottle of honey sitting in the sink and saw the tiny ants, shriveled and floating in the sticky amber liquid. It suddenly struck me: This is a life lesson for us all! Those ants finally got exactly what they wanted and it killed them!

It's something to think about, really. What do you think you really want? What do I think I really want? If I get what I want, will I be happier? Will I be a better person? Or will I end up like the ants, who must have thought in their last seconds [on whatever level ants think], "We worked our whole lives for THIS?"