“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it without a sense of ironic futility.”
On a warm April afternoon while watching an ant walk across my patio with a dead leaf, from a plant in my yard, I was burdened with the existence of self-perpetuated futility. “Why is this stupid animal dragging a piece of dead vegetation across my patio? What benefit could this compost possibly bring this dumb animal? I should just relieve this beast of its burden.” Just then, a stiff wind came along and did just that. The debris was separated from its pinchers and blown across the patio. Ahhh vindication…surely the ant will now realize the error of its ways, the ant will see what I saw. No, it did not realize this. It became confused and scrambled in every which direction, seemingly trying to discover what its next muse might be.
Of course all of my opinions about what the ant was doing were informed by my knowledge of cartoon ants. I know from experience that ants only drag food around in the interest of ruining picnics. As such, there is no reason for an ant to drag a dead leaf around, and now, for the sake of this post, I ask that you suspend your hard-earned familiarity with ant-trivia for a spell. I would love to live in a universe where-in ants do not simulate the eccentricities that are a reality in my own mind…in my own life.
But I don’t.
My life is defined, in some ways, by my propensity toward throwing myself into a task that is not terribly beneficial toward any known goal. Tasks like trying to convince people that they might be striving for the wrong things in life.
People can be very ant-like at times. We are tasked with an amalgam of chores; assignments which we strive to finish as dutifully and as efficiently as possible. We do this without ever asking why. Not that there is an intrinsic value to the question why, but it does contain a benefit or two. Doesn’t it? We all, at one time or another, find value in the question why. We rarely find value in others’ questions of why (they are generally annoying and, as such, I apologize). Our own questions of why, in our opinion, are the keys to finding the answers to the questions plaguing humanity, if humanity would just take time to listen. But nobody takes time to listen…do they? Whoosh, along comes a wind, and my useless leaf is blown across the patio. BOOOOOOOOO. Don’t worry though; logic will inform me that that leaf was of no value to me. I’ve learned not to hold my breath for logic…she may not be on her way. Here is an alternative to waiting for logic: scramble about aimlessly, you silly little ant.
I was struck by the idea that we all scramble to regain things that are of little consequence, once they are taken away. These traits seem more dignified to me when I am the one displaying them than they do when I am watching them being played out by an ant from the cold indifferent comfort of my patio furniture. What a stupid little ant.