Tag Archives: Ants

Ants with a Choice for a Better Life

Once upon a time there were these two ants. They were busy bringing crumbs of food back to their nest, where the food would be broken up into it’s components, and given to the various elements. The workers would get the parts that had energy for immediate use, so they could continue to work and bring back even more food. The small aphids would get the food that would be transferred into short term storage, that could be later used for nourishment for other ants. The queen would get the best stuff. She would get the most long lasting and densely nutritious portion of the food. She needed to save as much energy as possible, because she was going to give birth to the next generation of ants, who would go on and build their own colony.

But this story is about the two worker ants. They didn’t’ have names, because worker ants generally are not given much thought other than what they can produce. They only know how to follow one another, pick up a piece of food from the same source as the person who picked up the food before them, and turn and follow the trail back to where everybody else was going. Had they had the capacity of reason and the time to contemplate it, they would realize that all this was predetermined by nature and genetics. They didn’t have much choice in the matter. Food, trail, deposit, return to source. Over and over and over. They never got breaks, they couldn’t go out drinking on Friday night with their friends, they couldn’t wear shoes that didn’t match the rest of their outfits only because they were in a particularly festive mood that day. Food, trail, deposit, return. Such was the life of ants.

Until one day. One ant decided that he would stop, just for a little bit. Something inside of him spoke. Perhaps it was a genetic mutation, perhaps it was a voice that you never listen to. Perhaps it is a voice that you have inside you that is telling you to stop, and look around. Because when you stop, and look around, you might be able to notice things that you weren’t able to notice before. You might be able to see things that you hadn’t been able to see before. And you might have an idea, you might even create a new idea. The great thing about new ideas is that you can try them out, and nobody will really know what you are doing. Because it’s a new idea, even if it doesn’t’ work, you can still learn from the experience.

And when this one ant stopped, and took a break, he was completely surprised to see that all the other ants did the same. One second before, he felt depressed and angry and lonely. It’s not much fun being an ant. But when he decided to take a risk, and stop for a break, something amazing happened.  When he saw all the other ants following his lead, looking to him for guidance instead of that automatic scent they had been following, he changed. He transformed from a mindless worker ant to somebody with a choice.

When the queen gave birth to the new colony, she had to choose a leader. Because everybody knows that when a new ant colony is born, they are sent off into new and unknown territories, and must depend on the experience and guidance of those who came before. So naturally, the old queen, who was now advanced in years and failing in health, chose this young upstart ant to lead the new kingdom, which would undoubtedly flourish and prosper for generations to come.


Creative Ways to Solve Problems

My neighborhood had a sort of a festival this weekend. Something to do with the goddess of spring coming, or something. It is kind of like a carnival in some respects. They have various festivals around, and their a group of food vendors, around twenty or thirty that travel around and land in whatever city happens to be having the festival.  I went with a couple friends. One of my friends’ cousin was working at one of the booths, so we were hanging out talking for a while about this and that. He telling us about the different cities they go to, and how they see the some of the same people in each city. And one of my friends asked him if he ever gets tired of cooking and eating the particular food that they prepare. He said it’s just like any other job, you get used to it. But then he said they are having a problem with this particular city. Some kinds of termites or something. Since they started up, they started seeing little termite like bugs. And that spells bad news for a food stall carnival traveler, because most of stuff is made of wood. He seemed pretty worried, because a business like that, you are pretty close to breaking even most of the time, and you can’t really handle unforeseen problems that crop up from time to time.

Like when my friend found a bunch of plumbing problems under his house. He had a huge tree in the backyard, and the branches were strangling the pipes under the house and messing up the flow. And he got several estimates, and it was going to cost around five thousand dollars. Because he and his wife had spent most of their money buying this house, they didn’t have that kind of cash laying around to fix the problem. Even though it really wasn’t there problem. Or at least it wasn’t there problem before, and when they moved into the house, they just sort of accepted the fact that this problem was there, and decided they would have to figure out a way to deal with it. Problems can be interesting in this regard.

Sometimes when you have a problem, and you try the usual methods, and they don’t work, sometimes you need to think of something else. You need to get creative and think of new ways to get around problems. Because as long as you live and move through life, you are going to encounter problems. People that become really successful in life, (regardless of how you define success,) aren’t the ones that have to deal with the least amount of problems. They are the ones that are able to come up with different solutions for whatever problem they come up against. And really successful people have discovered that problems are really opportunities in disguise. Many people believe the difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is how they perceive problems. Successful people see them as ways to learn and improve their skills. Regardless of how big and unsolvable the problem seems, you can always think of new ideas, even come up with ways to use it to your advantage.

So my friend’s wife got on the phone. She called and checked if there was a statute of limitations, or whatever you call it, on buying a house. She was hoping to see if they could figure out way to get the previous owner to pay part of the bill. No dice. Then she had an idea. She checked to see when the tree was planted, and it was planted by the city before the houses were actually built. So she called the city, and sure enough they admitted they were responsible. And the city paid the entire bill. And all it took was a few phone calls.

And the termites turned out to not even be termites. They were a weird strain of ants, really small ants, that  look like termites. And since it was a ‘spring is coming’ festival, they took it as a good sign. Kind of like when the groundhog sees his shadow, or doesn’t see his shadow, or however that rule goes. And because my friends’ booth had the highest concentration of these pretend-termite-ants, it was the most popular for the weekend, and made the most money. He still didn’t give us any free food, though.