Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Ants in the Garden

PREVIOUSLY (June 10, 2014):

Dad was pumping water from the well awhile ago. And I was down by the kitchen, as I had to hide one of the snacks that came from the Philippines for fear that I would finish all of it within one week. (Because I'd only tasted this one after three years, more or less.) I laid it down on our dinner table, and heard electric sparks from the bug-killer badminton coming from outside. Whirring sounds were in the background, which was some working of the pump. It usually goes unnoticed as I go about my day, like my pulse or blinking.

This was quite a hot afternoon, despite rolling grey clouds that blanketed the sky. Maybe there was a break of it over the west and behind the mountains, because the sun bounced off our neighbour's houses, especially the white wall in front of our little garden. 

Then, I heard Dad call me to go outside. "Issa, come out and bring the camera! I found a funny shot," he shouted in a mix of Filipino and English. I was curious, wondering if it was some deformation of plant from a pot, a stray cat bounding off the abandoned doghouse, or some other oddity that made its way into our garage. I skipped toward his Borealis North Face bag by a couch and fished for the camera.  

I burst out of the brown door, and handed him the camera, searching for the thing he vocally beckoned me for. "Here," he said, and went near the electric pump. He directed the camera to the wall. "Ants carrying something heavy." I squinted, and searched the white wall. There was a thimble-sized yellow particle of food, circled by tinier ants. Probably a disintegrated lemon. 

I chuckled, and watched Dad move the camera as close as he could to the ants, and at the ants who were sturdily lifting food for their colony. Some other ants skittered up and down, occasionally stopping to deliver messages with their antennas, but no stop too long. So it seemed like the circle of ants were on their own. Yet they crawled onwards, upwards.

They progressed on higher up the wall, and Dad took some shots. I regretted not being able to take some on my own camera, because it was gathering dust atop my desk as the battery was uncharged: a subject of procrastination. The camera had a crisp image of them, it was so precise that I could see their tiny little legs, mandibles and many other things I couldn't have observed with the naked eye in full detail. I was amazed. Although, seeing the pictures on the camera's screen itself is pretty different than seeing it on a laptop. Now, the pictures seem blurred and discoloured, unlike the first time I saw them.

Few more seconds passed, and Dad lifted the camera and said we could go back inside. Then, because of a childish urge, I asked, "Can I flick them off the wall?" An expression of mischief flitted for a second on his face, and then grew stern. He shook his head, frowning. I gave one last look at the ants on the wall, and trotted back into the house. 

Taking my slippers off inside, I began to think up some lessons and deeper observations concerning the ants from outside. The points I thought of were:

A.) What bad would it be if I take them out, they are just small, there will be many more ants and more food.
B.) I am big; the ants are small.
C.) Forager ants risk their lives going out to take the food like the scouts who preceded them. In fact, they face bad weather, enemy ants, and predators while gathering food. It is a suicide mission.
D.) Small things shouldn't be underestimated, they become big to us too on a level. 
E.) As a person, I can empathise with them on a human scale.

So, A. first. What bad would it be if I take them out, they are just small, there will be many more ants and more food. Why not, right? It would be fun seeing their reaction after they've fallen off four feet and crashed down on the rocky ground. And also, it would be interesting to feel the piece of yellow food on my fingers, and the ants furiously skittering, trying to defend it and themselves. But would I feel them bite me, smell the sweet acid they release when in danger, or, because they were a different species than what I saw in the sugar cubes they would do something I did not expect? 

Even if they were to be hurt because of what I did, wouldn't there be so many other ants deployed by their queen to gather food? The food that they carried was quite sizeable, but there would be more food, and after all, there is enough for everyone on this earth. 

Then comes B., I am big; the ants are small. Which is also like: I am a superior to them on so many levels. That means I can do whatever I want with the ants. I can govern them, help them bring the food higher (that one is quite difficult), take them away from the wall, crush them with my fingers, or bring out one of the ants and see what happens to the others. 

Nevertheless, I want to be a good superior, and good superiors have respect for those under them. Sometimes, it's because their respect for others that earned them up to that high place. But I was born this way - a human, and I was appointed by God to be a manager of those below me. Yeah, yeah, sometimes I slack off and am not aware of that when I get angry at my younger siblings or not throw the trash in my room, 

but nonetheless, I am appointed. The ants are also not an exception.

Which leads us to C., which is a very important thing to everyone. Small things shouldn't be underestimated, they become big to us too on a level. It's been tested and proven that little things are sometimes catalysts for change. For example...
One pebble can kill a nine-foot giant. A simple word can cause a city-wide riot. One drop of liquid can cause an explosive reaction. A short fifteen year-old boy revolutionised in the area of computers and programming, and today the operating systems he developed is running on almost every computer today (Trey Gates ;) you know). One sentence of affirmation can uplift a person's rainy day. And, one ant is just as important as the whole colony. One piece of yellow food will also be a good contribution to their food supply.

We can also remember that it's the ants who help our soil become aerated, clean the ecosystem by taking what food we don't need and the dead animals into their nests, and controlling the pests on our crops. 
On the other hand, ants can be a hindrance to the buildings they intrude with a fleet of themselves, cause economic losses if they invade, say, a food factory, and of course, when we don't store our leftover food into the refrigerator. So, we have to be good stewards of them, as said earlier, and muddle in a little bit when things get too out of hand. 

Now, D. "'Forager ants risk their lives going out to take the food like the scouts who preceded them. In fact, they face bad weather, enemy ants, and predators while gathering food.' It is a suicide mission." I think that speaks for itself… 
I learned this in Science last year. I was a self-studying homeschooler, so I got to think a lot then. And I also remember being inspired and motivated by the tiny little beings that God put near us, and thanking Him for them, because of things stated in the point prior to this.

Finally, E. As a person, I can empathise with them on a human scale. Possibly in every person comes a point where they think, what if that occurrence would happen to me, or the people that I love? This happens to me quite a lot. 

So I imagine, what if one day I was going to the grocery to buy some snacks for a long-planned road trip, when suddenly, a giant deadpan humanoid takes me on its hand and drops me down from the 3rd floor grocery? (The conclusion is my untimely death, or serious injury taking me out from the road trip. Ants are lucky, they've got exoskeletons to prevent this, I guess). And what if, like in dystopian books and films, I was one of the persons selected by some drawing of straws to leave the refuge barricaded by a strong, tall, white barrier to hunt for food outside in the overgrown, treacherous and post-apocalyptic world unknown? (I don't know what will become of me on this one :c). Haha, that was awesome, Imagination. But seriously.


I know, the ants don't have any souls, but out of God-given mercy I sometimes empathise that way. Like Ender Wiggin. And on another turn of my mind I remembered our wars of today, the MH370 plane crash, the refugees from Syria and Iraq, White House Down (yes lol), and suddenly it's too strong that I want to finish the debate with myself.

This was the final point that sealed the other good ones in my mind. 

Now I had wrapped up on a decision… to leave them be. 

Yes. I viewed them in the impersonal way, and looked on with the personal. The premise of the small group of ants just another face in the population of an ant specie I couldn't decipher, versus the whimsical notion of pretending they were us, one of us people. The subject of leadership and persons responsible for someone else's belongings was also considered. Philosophies of "less is great", noble sacrifice, and empathy went around in my head. 

In addition, people are relational beings, so I related with the ants and with their way of life. Eventually, that understanding about the band of ants weighed down to the conclusion of me leaving them alone. 

After all that thought while shaking off my slippers (elaboration came in later), I continued on with my schoolwork, upstairs, and added a mental note to write the event of my Dad calling me to see some ants climbing up a wall with some food on my blog. 

And the ants on the wall, unseen by anyone, crawled up on their path to get home to their colony, deposited their findings to the food supply, rested a bit, and headed out again to collect the food directed by the shouts of the scout ants as they headed out into the great unknown.

A/N: YEEEEEEEEES!!!!!!!!!! Finally, after more than two months, I was able to curb writer's block (and my procrastination) to complete this autobiographical/persuasive essay :DDD I probably just need to do a little brushing up on some stuff I'll spot that's off with this, because, I've spent more than 2 hours on the thing and have more agendas. (And sorry for the gifs. I…just can't help but add them…)

Thanks for reading my essay.


    *self control ok misha*
    Such wowness. Slow clap. Wipes tears. So deep.
    I shouldn't be doing this
    good post

      AND YES
      September 5 <3
      Much gratitude :')
      Yeah me too I should be writing another article about my TMA graduation
      Miss ya too bro :T McDonald's
      thank you again

  2. two words, mate. Standing ovation. YOU SERIOUSLY HAVE A LIFETIME SUPPLY OF GIFS I LOVE YOU SO MUCH WAOW. okay. xD

    1. *gif of Jennifer Lawrence wiping tears* AND YES I DO <3 love ya too man less than three

    2. (to Misha too) Actually the gifs weren't originally part of the post but there were like 19283129 words and I had to show pictures so u wouldn't become bored okay bye

  3. I hope I can remember what I wrote earlier...

    Profound, creative, expansive...keep on writing.
    You have actually surpassed your mentors' writing prowess :)
    But it is not something we should be surprised about because you had been a voracious reader since, what, 5? So it is just starting to leak out now. Keep on writing what will inspire others and in doing so, you honor God above all. This talent is from Him in the first place.
    I hope you can actually excel more in this craft and eventually do it professionally.
    I am proud of you, mero chori!

    1. Thank you so much, Mom! Oh yes, but this is my 'mana' rin from you guys :D (the grammar is especially from you xD)
      Yea, I shall carry on with His banner always!
      Wow! Maybe not in full-time, I could write like Dad does (but he's in IT and other things) or like one of my fave authors Stefan Bachmann (he's pursuing film composing now), haha. Still waiting on God for the passion for a vocation I don't know clearly yet.
      Thank you so much again, Mom <3