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Scribblings Week 13

Jan 18, 2015

600px-AntvxdThe ants are back. Which only goes to prove the profound truth of the French proverb, plus ca change, plus c’est la même chose.

Yes, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”

In California, I was ceaselessly at war with ants. You know the kind—the six-legged, bulbous headed, plundering fiends that, like the infinitesimal Hell’s Angels they are, spew past out of nowhere in a black blur across your counter or window sill. Now, alas, the front has moved to Texas, specifically to my bathtub.

I am not at all pleased by this development.

St. Francis can view ants as wondrous creations of God and, hence, as his “brothers” all he wants. Are there ants in heaven? Who knows? But estimates of the ant population on earth hover around 10 quadrillion. (That’s 10,000,000,000,000,000 for you visual learners.) To me, each little ghastly sucker belongs strictly down below—either in the soil out of my house or among the sulfurous fires of hell where, with any luck, it’s burned to a crisp.

Yet, wherever I have lived, the local ant colony appears not to agree. Instead they visit and ‘set a spell’ in whatever crevice or corner of my place strikes their fancy. Once, I kid you not, I even found them – yuck! yuck! yuck! – INSIDE my refrigerator.

 

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As for evicting these freeloaders, prepare to fight to the death—possibly yours. (That I didn’t die of heart failure, right then and there, when I opened the frig still astounds me.) Ants take ‘the right of possession’ to a whole, new, hideous extreme, as my serial exterminator bills can verify. Nor, in case you’re wondering, do ants hang with me because I’m a pig, dropping crumbs behind me like a geriatric Gretel. Ask anyone who knows me; I am the proverbial clean freak and never more so than when I’m engaged in Ant Wars.

Antz are not nice; I don’t care what Disney says.

Nevertheless, to be fair and appease Walt’s shade, I actually took the time to Google “benefits of ants.” Here is what I learned…

“Ants work behind the scenes and out of sight, so that the benefits to us are not directly observed,” enthuses TheIncredibleAnt.com. They have a “great work ethic” and their gigs include aerating soil and transporting seeds to new locations to facilitate new growth.

Well, whoopty doo for them.

 

Background

 

Spirit-Animals.com was even more enthusiastic. “Encountering an ant, you should consider that all good things come with time and effort,” says the site. “Work with diligence, with conviction, and work with others in order to forge your dreams and turn them into reality… great strength of will and accomplishment can come even in the smallest of packages.”

That explanation my ant-loathing brain had an easier time accepting. So ant visits were signs, eh? Signs I should follow my dreams? Well, OKAY. Nothing like a plague of ants to get me to writing, especially when I would rather go shopping or play on Facebook or head out for a walk or wash a dish or scrub a toilet…

There is a term for what ails me: “the tyranny of the mundane.” The tyranny of the mundane, of our to do lists. Shakespeare himself couldn’t have more perfectly expressed it.

But guess who liberated me? Are you ready?

My ANTS. My ants set me free. I took Spirit-Animals’ advice and got to work on What Really Mattered…and, lo and behold, glory be, my house might look like hell, but it sure feels like heaven. The ants are gone.

Nor do I have any intention of falling off the wagon and winding up imprisoned again. I will complete a chapter of my novel every two weeks. I will walk 10,000 Fitbit steps daily. I will continue to respond to anything even remotely divorce-esque with compassion, patience, integrity and prayer, particularly when it involves my sister-in-law who loathes me. I will open my heart to Dallas and close my mouth to complaining about it…

 

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After all, there is nothing like knowing that, should I blow any of the above, my taskmasters will peek up out of the drain and say, “Uh, girlfriend…”

So, yeah, my houseguests the ants packed a powerful punch. Yet, believe it or not, they weren’t the sole “small package” to arrive this week.

It’s a long story, but suffice to say I had ordered a lamp for my new apartment. And, according to the trusty deliveryman, the lamp arrived at my front door. Except it didn’t.

I waited a few days—not an easy task for a queen of instant gratification—then I called and explained the situation. Fortunately UPS Central in India couldn’t have been more gracious and accommodating. They promised to launch an “investigation” and even asked the lamp folks to send me a replacement.

A few hours later, it was walk time. (10,000 steps!) I almost didn’t get the walk in, however, because I damn near broke my leg tripping over the package in my doorway. Not even I at my most obsessive and impatient expected UPS to work that fast. Thank you, thank you, thank you, tracking gods.

But, oh, what a sad little package they delivered—all beat up and grimy, with one of its sides nearly ripped off. Gently I opened it and inside found a smaller package containing the actual lamp. Cradling it like a baby, I wiped away the peanuts…Uh oh, this box had a few scars and dings as well.

“Not good,” I thought. “I sure hope the poor lamp works after the wild ride it’s been on.”

The lamp emerged without so much as a scrape. Holding my breath, I plugged the cord into the socket, turned the lamp’s switch and…voila! Let there be light!

There was.

 

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Later, while chopping carrots, I had a thought.

“Oh, come on,” I said. “That’s out there even for you.”

Yet the more I thought about it, the more I had to concede that I just might be on to something. I, you see, am like that package. Perhaps you are as well. Are you dinged and bruised and bumped about? Are your sides ripped, your corners shredded? Do you look—and feel—well, more than a little worn? Have you seen better days? Are you lost and off course?

If so, remember this. The lamp arrived, and the lamp worked. Even after the pounding it took, its light remained undimmed. You and I can find our way ‘back’ as well. We are only permanently burned out and useless if we believe we are.

Or consider the ants, those “smallest of packages.” Ants can carry up to 50 times their own body weight, a feat not even the most burly UPS driver can replicate. Nevertheless we can learn from our Brother Ant. (Dear sweet God in heaven, did I just say that?) We can refuse to allow our limitations to hamper us. We can strive. We can keep going and refuse to give up hope. Ants travel 1 1/3 miles daily, which might not sound like much—not until you realize that the human equivalent is traveling 415 miles on foot in 12 hours.

So your feet hurt, so what? Rest a little then get back to it. Run your own race. Channel your inner ant. In fact, some mad scientist on the Internet has invented an ant that glows in the dark. Why don’t you go a little happily mad, too…and, after you reinvent yourself, watch how you glow and then glow some more because your bulb will never go out?

 

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Copyright © 2015 “Scribblings Week 13” by Jenine Baines

Ant sketches, top right, by VxD (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

Wind-up lamp image source: SVCommunity.org

Glowing flower by aussiegall from Sydney, Australia (Glowing  Uploaded by russavia) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

~~~

Find more of Jenine’s poems, writings, and musings at MichaelWhoKnew.com.




2 Responses for “Scribblings Week 13”

  1. Janine; what fun you are, sort of wise guy laceworks or tongue in cheek writer; somehow I missed your blogs, but up you appeared today, and I will subscribe if I’m not already; don’t quite know how to do it; found no notification on your blog. That means nothing; my brain is down the street being dry cleaned.

    esther Bradley-detally

  2. Jenine Baines says:

    Esther, Thank you SO much for your lovely thoughts. I will cherish them. The blog’s on hiatus – temporary – while I tackle a novel and another project that involves “scribblings” like the one you just read. I’ve asked Kat if she’ll share your email and I’ll clue you in on more.

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