365 Grateful: an ant by any other name might be a human

antsYou know, ants are pretty fascinating creatures.

About a month ago I accidentally left a melon sitting on the counter too long. Just let one of those suckers find a way into the house and he’ll invite in all his friends for a melon feast.

As frustrating as it was, it was also quite interesting to observe all that activity — they’d make a beeline (ant-line?) for the melon or, more accurately, for where the melon had been once I noticed these black ants against my black countertop. Back and forth, right and left — there was another ant-line retracing steps, this time carrying a chunk of something. Melon, then any old scrap they could find. A law-abiding, orderly traffic pattern, ant after ant. I found myself wondering if they ever stopped to greet one another:

“Hey, Joe! How’s it going, buddy? Wow, haven’t seen you in ages and here you are, hanging upside down along with me underneath the countertop. How’s the fam?”

Their ability to navigate as though their brains have built-in GPS was amazing to witness. It was, of course, also their downfall. Almost by accident, I noticed a trail of ants busily scurrying back and forth atop our newly poured sidewalk and, yes, over the mulch and onto the foundation and right up to where the stoop met the wall … mostly. I say mostly because there was a slight opening where stoop didn’t quite meet wall. And there, in and out, back and forth, was Joe the Ant. Along with dozens of his industrious and dedicated co-workers.

We really had no interest in killing the hard-working earth-dwellers, so we hauled out the indoor/outdoor caulk and caulked away. Voila! No more ants … for about three weeks.

That’s when, careless again, we left out another batch of sweet fruit — peaches this time — as an unwittingly irresistible temptation. Alas, the next day trailing along inside the house were Joe and his buddies, just as efficient as ever despite their three-week hiatus. Smarter this time, we immediately checked the other side of the stoop, dragged out the caulk, and once again stopped them in their tracks.

Surprisingly, I’m actually somewhat grateful for the ant invasion of 2016 and the opportunity to see them in action. Especially after a group coaching session I co-facilitated at work earlier this week. Humans are a lot like ants.

Picture this: we split up a team into three groups and gave them three different puzzles to work. Silently. OK, maybe the puzzles were a little mixed up. I just watched. Pretty soon we saw one of them get up and head off on an exploratory mission to the other two tables. She found what she needed and promptly carried it back to her group. Soon others followed her footsteps, and they began blazing a trail that carried them back and forth, from station to station, each time carrying puzzle pieces back to their group. And at home? One person stayed put to continue working on the puzzle, while the the others scouted for what they needed and carried it safely home.

Just like my ants, except they didn’t walk upside down on the counters.

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