Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ants go marching

I have a good view from my hospital room, from my bed I look out across Mission Valley, and in the distance can see all the way to the ocean, but the view right below me, seven stories down, is a small street between two medical buildings associated with the hospital.

The street is just one lane, really, with parking spaces on one side. It’s not a heavily trafficked road, just a way to get to more parking spaces, behind the buildings. Right now there happens to be some construction going on in one of the two buildings looming over the street, so it is a rather busy little road in terms of pedestrians and work crews.

From up here the people remind me of ants. They’re down there pushing their piping, and adjusting their backpacks as they emerge from their cars, and shuffling back to their parking spots after their work shifts. They look like busy little insects.

Most people know that ants are social and industrious, and that’s how the good people below me appear. They’re on the go, getting things done, contributing to the ant hill we call society.

This is not the only time I’ve felt that people were little more than ants of the universe. The first time I really gave it any thought was years ago when a co-worker of mine pointed it out to me.

We worked at one of those kiosks in the mall, in the mall I can see from this very room, in fact, and we were switching shifts. It was a drizzly gray day, and because the mall is an outside structure, it wasn’t terribly busy.

But looking up to the sky and the impending shower he said to me, “Get ready to watch the ants scurry.” And he was completely right. The rain started to come down and the shoppers all scurried for cover. Quickly. It seemed so instinctual, like ants running for the safety of their ant hill.

I found it extremely amusing and pondered the ant theory throughout the day. When you take a step back and remove yourself from your personal worries and tasks and to do lists, and take a moment to think about it, are we really more than one tiny ant in a much larger world full of ant hills?

I kind-of like the theory, it makes thoughts like “I must get the living room painted this week” seem far less crucial. I mean, of course, by all means, paint the living room if it makes you feel better, but you're just one ant living in one ant hill in a universe full of billions of ants. A lot of things just aren’t that important. You can let some of them go.


Me, You, or Ellie said...

Oh, I love this Beth. For some reason it reminds me of being in the Keys. We'd be hanging out in the campground, eating and drinking and carrying on all the day, and someone would say, "My only goal today is to mail a postcard." Later that day, at happy hour time, that same someone would say, "My only goal tomorrow is to mail that postcard."

Way to let 'er go....


Mar Waters said...

Hi Beth!

Agreed on mellowing out the to do list, which is really just a procrastination tool in the first place.

In fact, I will go so far as to suggest that merely thinking industrious and social thoughts is more than enough of a contribution, as long as they're positive.

Some of my best postcards have never even been written down, just sent by mind-mail.

Love your ant friend from up north,

Me, You, or Ellie said...

Great post, Beth! I totally feel like an ant this week, caught up in the silliness of my duties. It's a great feeling to let it go a little, I'm going to work on that.