It just wouldn't be a picnic without the ants...
I love this quote because I can relate to it on so many levels. Motherhood has been the most incredible"picnic" in my life. That being said, some days are "infested with ants", and I often find myself searching for the priceless opportunity for learning and growth that presents itself in all experiences... good and bad. Among the gems of experience are knowledge, understanding, a greater aptitude for compassion, and a predisposition for empathy and caring... delivered only by the irritating company of the ants.
Ants, although not often welcome at picnics, are incredible critters. Just a few inspirational facts...
Like all insects, ants have six legs. Each leg has three joints. The legs of the ant are very strong so they can run very quickly. If a man could run as fast for his size as an ant can, he could run as fast as a racehorse. Ants can lift 20 times their own body weight. Adult ants cannot chew and swallow solid food. Instead they swallow the juice which they squeeze from pieces of food. They throw away the dry part that is left over. The abdomen of the ant contains two stomachs. One stomach holds the food for itself and second stomach is for food to be shared with other ants.
The job of the queen is to lay eggs which the worker ants look after. Worker ants are sterile, they look for food, look after the young, and defend the nest from unwanted visitors. Ants are clean and tidy insects. Some worker ants are given the job of taking the rubbish from the nest and putting it outside in a special rubbish dump! Each colony of ants has its own smell. In this way, intruders can be recognized immediately.
At night the worker ants move the eggs and larvae deep into the nest to protect them from the cold. During the daytime, the worker ants move the eggs and larvae of the colony to the top of the nest so that they can be warmer. If a worker ant has found a good source for food, it leaves a trail of scent so that the other ants in the colony can find the food.
I admire ants. I have been asked during interviews if I could be any non-human living thing what would I choose to be? I have always said, "an ant". Trust me... until I explain, I get some pretty strange looks. One of my favorite quotes follows...
"I ask not for a lighter load, I ask for broader shoulders..."
Ants can carry quite an insurmountable burden, and they do so every day. Their incredible strength, tenacity, and endurance enable them to work quickly and efficiently. They are extremely intelligent and productive. They extract the good, utilize it, and discard what is useless. They are are selfless and generous. They understand the value of community service. They are nurturers and devout caretakers. They are protectors. They are organized, efficient, and resourceful. They understand the value of conservation and preparation. Through a commitment to teamwork, they are dedicated to being part of a "collective whole". They are committed to a common purpose to build something great.
What if humanity shared such remarkable attributes? How beautiful our communities and societies would be if we could appreciate our burdens, regardless of their weight... If we could learn to extract the good in life and discard the bad... If we could realize the importance of sharing, nurturing, caring, hard-work, discipline, and endurance. Most importantly, what if we could embrace the reality that we are not here to succeed INDIVIDUALLY... that we are merely a part of a much greater "whole". What if everyone realized the value of service? What if everyone could realize that we are an extension of one another? Just imagine what a beautiful place the world would be...
Unfortunately... I am not an ant. There are days I feel overwhelmed, sneak away from the colony, find a comfortable hide-out, throw aside the burden on my shoulders, and digest the contents of my second stomach!
I often find myself frustrated, soul searching, exploring the value of faith, and trying to solve some of life's most complex equations. I have always had difficulty "letting go". I often struggle to dictate circumstance and situations beyond my control... "You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink." Damn Horses!!! I despise anything more stubborn than me, which includes most things that can't be turned off by a key or controlled with a remote.
FAITH is the foundation of a happy life. Before we can develop faith, we have to learn Patience. UGH! This has ALWAYS been my greatest challenge. God has been trying to teach me this concept for thirty-six years. Like the horse that won't drink, I'm not the least bit thirsty! It doesn't make any sense!!! If God wanted me to have patience, why didn't he "mix a little in"??? I am the result of His attempt to make something from scratch! Take a good look at me... stick with the recipe!!!
Seriously, it's the equivalent of building a house, then realizing that you forgot to include bathrooms. Instead of going through the trouble of revising the blueprint and redesigning the structure (which can take over thirty-six years!!!), go with the simplified route... build an outhouse!!!
Given my stubborn nature, and difficulty learning some of mortality's most valuable concepts... I've been assigned a front-row seat in "Spiritual Special Ed." for life's learning disabled. (A little friendly advice... If at any time you find yourself detained to my class, never... NEVER... cheat off my paper!)
I look around at other young mothers my age. On the surface they seem to have it much less complicated... their life seems so simple... their children so, so, perfectly "normal". There are times when I feel absolutely overwhelmed by the unconditional love that I feel for my children, and the helplessness that serves as love's constant companion. It's difficult to watch my children struggle... Tourette Syndrome, high functioning Autism, ADHD, OCD, and gender variance (which has presented the most significant challenges, given the lack of social support and understanding associated with this condition).
I am one person... I am merely a mother... and there are days that I feel completely and utterly inadequate. I have told myself (repeatedly) to never question God, especially when it comes to the blessings and opportunities in my life... but without patience it's extremely difficult and the questions abound... Why would one mother have to face so many uphill battles while others seem to have it so easy? Why do I have to suffer heart wrenching feelings of helplessness, and complete inadequacy?
I am proud to say that I've finally figured it out... (Although, when times get tough I suffer from frequent bouts of selective amnesia... and the "epiphany" I had today, may completely elude me tomorrow). The most difficult challenges in life are humbling, through humility we become teachable, and when we become receptive to learning... we are blessed with new opportunities for interpersonal growth.
My children are my world and it's my job to help them to understand that "LIFE just wouldn't be a PICNIC without the ANTS..." God has blessed each of us with the strength to bear each and every burden in our lives. Those "burdens" have a purpose... they reveal what we need to learn. What we commit to learn is our greatest resource. That education becomes the most precious gift in life. It's important to accept the things we cannot control, while making the most of everything we can! I hope that one day I will come to understand my significance, the value of my effort and the experiences in my life. I hope to utilize the "burdens" on my shoulders to contribute to the world around me... to make it a better place... and, in doing so, I hope to realize that every "load" is worth the effort. I pray that, through my example, I will be able to teach this profound truth to my children. May they...
" Ask not for a lighter load... ask for broader shoulders."
One of my mentors in my transition always kept me going with the song "High Hopes" usually heard by Frank Sinatra and it has ants in it.ReplyDelete
"Next time you're found, with your chin on the ground
There a lot to be learned, so look around
Just what makes that little old ant
Think he'll move that rubber tree plant
Anyone knows an ant, can't
Move a rubber tree plant
But he's got high hopes, he's got high hopes
He's got high apple pie, in the sky hopes
So any time you're gettin' low
'stead of lettin' go
Just remember that ant
Oops there goes another rubber tree plant"