The Importance of an AntI gaze carefully. My little red friend scrambles across my keyboard. Amazing, all those limbs and joints bending and stretching in a rhythmic fluidity, tiny feelers waving excitedly. He approaches a friend, and they tap each other in friendly camradrie, perhaps even love. He waves in understanding and he is off again, this time swiftly scampering toward the Collegiate Coupon book sitting on my desk. He surges upwards a few millimeters and slips into the crack between the pages.
Okay. So my desk isn’t exactly Walden Pond. The last time I saw leaves change color in here was when my plant died last year. And there certainly are no long lines of wisdom-seekers at my door searching for inspiration. But the ants don’t care. They simply go about their business, whatever it may be.
I used to think their existence was pointless. Now I know it is. They spend their lives migrating from the radiator to my computer and back. I have no idea what they could possibly eat in my room, unless they somehow discovered how to eat through the canned kidney beans or the dried pasta stored under my bed. Even their movements have no purpose. I watch in stupefaction as they turn around at least ten times while traveling a mere six inches. Maybe the most pitiful thing is that the ants have no individual identity. “Oh, that ant! The red one with the three body segments and the six legs. The one that likes to scurry. Why didn’t you say so?”
Have you ever seen an ant smile? Have you swapped stories with an ant over a warm cup of cocoa? Do the ants that live by the Great Pyramids or by the Taj Mahal appreciate these wondrous monuments? Do they feel sympathy for the victims at the World Trade Center? No. My little friends just continue to walk around aimlessly. They are born in obscurity and they die in obscurity.
Unlike ants, humanity has achieved greatness. We marvel at the intellect of Leonardo da Vinci or the musical genius of Beethoven.