One day, at our home in Sedona, Arizona, when I went to get the mail I saw a fresh anthill on our driveway, with its main hole surrounded by the red dirt of Sedona as well as by sand-sized grains of various colors and sizes. I imagined how the ants might pick up and carry the individual bits that we can see, but I was amazed at the vast number of almost microscopic grains of red dirt they also had to bring up. What egoless effort they put forth! And what intuitive intelligence did they have that guided them? Inspired by what I saw, I did a little research about the life of ants and the homes they create. I learned that ants create many chambers as they work - nurseries, food storage areas, and resting areas, for example. And while this anthill was small, Sciencing.com reports that a colony was discovered that had an area of 3,600 square miles in Europe! You can learn more about ant hills here.
As I've been reflecting on what I learned about the worlds of ants, and how they collaborate so intelligently (or instinctively), I wonder what we as humans can learn from them. Some ideas:
Small (even tiny) jobs matter.
Selflessness and teamwork enable big tasks to be completed for the good of all.
Periods of both work and rest maintain equilibrium and health.
Storing food during times of plenty creates security.
When difficulties arise, working together creates a healthy community.
Here are links to some interesting articles about ants:
Why think or write about ants? Well, first of all, I enjoy writing and sharing interesting information, images, and insights with you. I was a college English professor for 30 years, and teaching is a natural part of my nature, mostly because I want to share my sense of wonder and curiosity with others. My writing process isn't a linear thing however - often, I look through my photographs until I find an image that, for some reason, inspires me in one way or another, even if I don't understand why. Some part of me was drawn to the image of this anthill, and then I decided to do some research and reflection to see what I wanted to express. After all, how often do we think about the lives of ants, and how we can learn from them?
Aesthetically, I was also drawn to the subtle colors, textures, and light of this moment, as well as the contrast of the hard bricks and the soft roundness of the ant hill. Since I have my iPhone in my pocket almost always, I was able to capture the light and textures of the moment, and the soft colors and lines of the hard bricks.
Perhaps you might explore the moments of beauty in your daily life, especially if you carry your-enabled cell phone with you!