The other morning, just before we had breakfast, Bianca came to me shouting: “Dad, dad, come, you have to see this!” She doesn’t do this every time, so I rushed to see what was that all about. It might have been something really interesting. As I stumbled into the living room, I saw her on top of the couch, ready to cry and pointing at the other end of the couch, the one close to a big window. “There are ants there, Dad, I’m afraid”.
And oh, she was so right! At the other end of the couch, between the couch and the wall with that big window, I suddenly noticed like several hundreds of ants. Small, black and pretty active ants. Seemed that they had a pretty good time too, since I spotted from place to place very small sand grains. They were building a house and they were building it from some time now. Some of them had wings, some of them not. The ones with the wings were up to the couch and to the window, close to the ceiling. An invasion. An ants invasion.
Meanwhile, Bianca was still on top of the couch, repeating to me that she was afraid of them, just in case I didn’t understand it from the first time. Short thinking pause. At that time in the morning, before breakfast, the meaning of the term “short” may be fluctuating. So I may have stayed there a few dozens of seconds, trying to figure out a way to understand what do I have to do. And, after a few dozens of blinking at Bianca and some short, ugly looks to those nasty ants, I finally come up with an idea. A brilliant idea, of course.
In the kitchen, under the sink, we keep something called broom. That tool looked like something I could really use. A broom. Just before breakfast. Good idea. So, I took the broom and start sweeping around the ants. In a few minutes I had an interesting collection of a few hundreds of them. I took them all, opened the window and throw them away. I didn’t want to kill them. Just to teach them a lesson.
Bianca approached carefully: “Are there still ants here, Dad?”. “No, dear, no more ants” I whispered while letting the breakfast synapses work again. What to eat, how to prepare it, stuff like that. While I was slowly heading to the kitchen, to start making breakfast, I heard Bianca shouting again: “Dad, Dad, there are even more ants”. That couldn’t be true, of course, since I just swept them, but I turned back, just to comfort Bianca. Alas, she was right again.
For a moment I thought that the swept ants were able to send some invisible, chemical signals, because the new wave looked much more organized. And, from what I was able to count, they were at least twice the size. More ants. No problem. We got broom. Seeping them away. While Bianca was shouting, of course. Anyway, after a few minutes, the floor was clean again and the second wave of ants was thrown away. Go, ants. Let me have my breakfast.
This time, I didn’t left instantly. I thought it would be a good idea to stay a while near the couch, just in case. “No, there are no ants anymore, but I’m just staying here, just in case, Bianca”. “Good, Dad, because I’m afraid of ants”. Well, that was a clever idea. I’m a clever guy. In just a few minutes, thousands of ants were emerging again from nowhere, filling the space between the couch and the window. Even Bianca looked like she was waiting for them: “Look, Dad, they’re calling their friends”.
“Yes, they have a lot of friends” I thought, while starting to sweep the third wave of ants. “The third tribe“, I thought. In minutes, the third wave of ants was thrown away. I was getting really hungry, while Bianca seemed to rather enjoy all this sudden game. “Are you going to sweep them again, Dad, yes? yes?”. “Well, let’s see what happens next” I tried to be wise, whispering in a low voice.
Of course, the fourth wave of ants appeared in a few minutes. This time, I took a different approach. I observed them carefully, trying to spot the entry points. They weren’t manifested out of thin air, after all. They had to have an entry point. And yes, I saw it. It was a small crack on the floor, near the wall with the window. “Ah-aaa”, I said, and I grabbed the broom. But something prevented me to start sweeping again. An idea. Another brilliant idea. I rushed to the garage, where we keep something called vacuum cleaner. Toldya I’m a clever guy.
The Unavoidable Storm
It was getting warmer and the window was opened. I was somehow in direct sunlight. So I put on a bandana, plugged the vacuum cleaner, aimed for the key entry point and start vacuuming. A bandana, a vacuum cleaner and hundreds of thousands of ants. Sort of a Rambo stopping an invasion. Yeah, baby. Come on. I have a vacuum cleaner for you. Eat it up.
Maybe getting into action without having breakfast had some unexpected consequences, firing up some strange synapses in my brain. I was literally feeling like the main character in an action movie. Well, what the hell, at least I was feeling well. I was a male defending his territory in front of thousands of organized and powerful enemies. “Dad, you’re sweeping the couch” I heard Bianca. “There are no ants anymore”. “Oh, sorry, honey, didn’t saw that”.
I went outside to empty the vacuum cleaner recipient into the dumpster. Yes, there were hundreds of thousands of ants. While I was getting into the house again, I suddenly start to feel bored. Yes, there were ants again between the couch and the wall. Bianca also seemed to get a little bit bored, because she asked me to put her a movie on DVD. Definitely, she lost interest. So was I.
I was just looking outside the window, pointing the vacuum cleaner to the entry point and waiting for the ants to come. There was clearly a lower volume of ants entering and as I looked through the window I suddenly understood why. Some of the ants were leaving. I saw a huge exile of ants going on from that wall, outside in the backyard. But not all of them were leaving. Some of them were still entering the house. “You”re on the wrong territory here, ants, can’t you understand this? Don’t you see this huge hurricane which is sucking you up and eventually putting you into the dumpster?” I thought. Nope, apparently a good part of the ants didn’t notice they were on the wrong territory. Out I went emptying the second recipient of the vacuum cleaner.
As I was getting into the house, ready to vacuum the ants again. I started to feel really, really bored. I mean, don’t they understand? What they are still doing here? So, I just sat there with the vacuum cleaner doing its job and letting my mind wandering. And, of course, as my mind was wandering freely, I realized there’s a very deep meaning in this whole “ants” situation.
The Ants Situation Meaning
So, what did I had to learn from this invasion? Three things. Let’s take them one at a time.
1. I put myself for a moment in the ants shoes. From their point of view, the vacuum cleaner was like a big natural disaster. They couldn’t understand the whole picture, like they were on the wrong territory and all, they were just suffering the effects of a force bigger than them. They were swept away and thrown into a dumpster. For no apparent reason at all.
Well, that’s sad. And that’s happening to us too. There are moments in life when we don’t really understand why something violent and destructive is happening to us. We feel like we’re sucked away and all our life is thrown into a dumpster. We’re the toy of a bigger force than us.
What was interesting was that even the ants were able to make a choice. Some of them chose to keep fighting the vacuum cleaner, defending a house and a lifestyle which had no substance at all, while some of them chose to run away, starting fresh. The ones that chose to fight the vacuum cleaner ended up in the dumpster, or dead. The other ones ended up in the wild, starting a new life. A better life, of course.
The fighting ants were defending an illusion. They couldn’t possibly have a good life in my house. They were on the wrong territory. Sooner or later their lifestyle will have been destroyed. They simply made a wrong decision from the very beginning. Of course, they didn’t know that until the storm came, but when the hurricane stroke, they should have realized something’s wrong. The clever ones did, and they saved themselves.
Sometimes, a huge misfortune is just a sign that you’re on the wrong territory. You’re defending an illusion. If you keep fighting, you may end up in a dumpster, or dead. Sometimes, is far more better to start fresh, in the wild.
2. I remembered that a few days ago, in that specific place, I removed a lot of spider webs. I even thought, wow, that’s one hell of a spider corner here, let’s clean this up. I cleaned it up but the result was totally unexpected. I ended up with millions of ants.
Those spiders were there for a reason. They were eating ants. They were preventing them entering the house. They were silently stopping this invasion. But I thought I was better off. Now, I had to do a much nastier job, cleaning up a million of ants and trying to find much difficult ways to stop the invasion.
Every step you take has consequences. I don’t say I will start growing spiders (although I prefer a few controlled spiders over a few millions uncontrolled ants) but my approach changed the balance around my house. And I had to deal with it.
There’s this subtle balance in our lives which keeps things in order. Every time I’m facing an apparently easy decision, like: “should I remove this part of my life, because I don’t even remember why it’s still there?” I take a step back. I do think as much as I can about it. And, most of the time, I keep those things in their place. Maybe I lost the conscious connections, but that doesn’t mean those parts aren’t necessary.
Maybe those “spider webs” are there for a reason. Maybe there is this hidden order in the things which I should just obey and trust.
3. And the last thing I learned is that you can write a successful blog post on self improvement talking about an ants invasion. You don’t believe me? You just read it all, my friend. 🙂
Running For My Life - from zero to ultramarathoner
The spooky thing about depression is that it sneaks in. There aren’t really trumpets and loud voices announcing: “Hail, hail, this is depression entering the room, all rise!” Nope. It’s slow, silent, creepy. It doesn’t even look like depression. It starts with small isolation thoughts like: “Maybe I shouldn’t get out today, I just don’t feel like going out”. And then it does the same next day. And then the day after that and so on. And then it starts to whisper louder and louder in your ears: “Why would you go outside, you loser? Didn’t have enough yet? Want more people to make fun of how much of a big, fat loser you are?”
And then you start to breath in guilt and shame, instead of air. Every breathe you take is putting more dark thoughts into your body.
Until you get stuck. You can’t move anymore. At all.
If you want to know how I got out of this space, eventually, check out my latest book on Amazon and Kindle.