21.3.17

thoughts // reverie of a solitary ant*



(An ant was walking on a little twig, minding its own business in one of its three seconds break from the endlessly busy life of the ant community. Within those short three seconds (short enough for us human, yet, long enough for the ants to gain back its strength); a blue bird flew and snatched the twig away, carrying it to the top of a tree far far away from where the ant used to live.

You see, the blue bird was expecting a bunch of new eggs that will soon turn into a bunch of baby blue birds. The blue bird was so excited that it failed to notice there was an ant on the twig it carried to build a nest, thus, the ant did not get eaten by the bird. The ant was frightened for one split second, short enough for us human to notice yet long enough to create a terrifying moment for an ant. Its nature is to live on the ground, and suddenly, up and up it goes, further and further away from the ground. Lucky that the ant was smart enough not to let that shock affect it, so, it holds the twigs tighter and tighter as the bird flies with it. On the top of a tree, the twig was places carefully by the bird, structured in a way that a bunch of dried twigs can create a comfortable nest for a family. Structure, is not something the ant was unfamiliar of. More so than the height, the distance from the ground, and how home suddenly seem so far way. And once the blue bird fly away, the ant starts to crawl away from the twig to the tree while making a list of possible way back home safely. The ant remembers someone said that escape is an act of returning. "But this is not an escape. I just need to know how to find my way home", it thinks to itself. "What I need is to start moving", it says loudly to itself, or so it thoughts. 


In this story, we need to remember how our sense of time, space, and distance is different to an ant. What seem to us like a tree two feet away from where the twig was originated could feel like it were miles and miles away. Even a puddle is wide enough for a small ant to voyage its own sea. And in a lifespan of an ant, what seem to us like it was just an hour journey can feel like it was endless. To have a space and time for itself is a foreign concept for a hardworking communal ant and the first thing it notices was the stillness …




[… … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … …]



Without other ants endlessly murmuring around it, the solitary ant can finally listen to its own thought. For another split second, the ant was confused. But, to not having to do anything more purposeful than finding a way back and without its daily movement that often too obliviating, too fast, too narcotic to contemplate; the ant starts to learn to pay more attention to its surrounding, noticing some details it often missed, having a space for thinking, and off it goes on its journey back with an endless chain of thoughts going on in its mind.


First thing that the solitary ant notices was how the smell of the tree was strangely familiar. It feels so far away and at the same time it feels so close to its heart. "Did I just contradict myself or was the distance gave me perspective that what seems impossible is never actually too impossible?”, it think to itself once again. And with that point of view, the solitary ant starts to see the big jungle it lives in (that for human is actually just as big as a backyard garden). With that perspective, it asks itself whether it has always been objective in judging things it sees. In the past five full minutes, the solitary ant has been asking itself so many questions in its mind. Its thoughts never sound so loud and busy as it is at that moment. It starts to contemplate on how it sometime wish to have a space for itself-- and now that it has all the space and all the time in the world, what will the ant make good of it? How much space does an ant need when it says it needed a space? And when an ant does not have anything it supposed to be doing but merely strolling from one spot to another, what was it supposed to do? Will it be too busy doing what it was supposed to do and forget what actually matters? And what actually matters in a life of an ant? With a bit of guilt, the ant start asking itself if it was working hard enough, moving fast enough, and whether it was contented with what how it live its life. If the ant does move fast enough, does it ever reward itself before asking 'what's next?'. However, it always the hardest to satisfy itself than to satisfy any other ants. That limit is more personal and more repressing than the ant ever thought before. The solitary ant realizes how for it's been awhile since it last aims to surprise itself. So it gives itself a moment to stop for a while. At that moment, the solitary ant notices how wide and deep blue was the sky, how the breeze was cool like a peppermint it once upon a time found on the ground, and how the ant is no longer confused by the fact that the smell of its home is no longer traceable. Home is physically closer and yet it feels so far away. And the solitary ant thought, "How long has it been since I last spend an entire three seconds just to look at the sky? How long has it been since it last takes a serendipitous walk?” And what does an ant knows about serendipity, anyway? More so of its devotion and persistence to keep on moving: moment passed and moment forgotten. Funny how such thoughts came out of an ant with a freedom to choose when to stop and when to keep on moving. But the solitary ant was in an adventure, a quest, a moment to learn from its own thoughts, surrounding, and careful observations. Whenever the ant found an answer to its questions, it only leads to more questions, like a big endless puzzle.

On and on the thought goes until the ant arrived to the bottom of the tree, its fear of height has been conquered, even forgotten. The distance has been passed. The mythical height of the tree is measured, known, experienced. It all loses its myth. Arriving on the ground, it can once again smell that guides its way back home. But this time, the solitary ant took its time and wander to an unknown terrain where all those smells of home once again fades away. On and on it wanders, giving another chance for an absolute encounter, attentions, questions, and a moment to just look at the sky.)


(*) title generated from rousseau's reveries of the solitary walker
--written for a spontaneous-writing assignment by jan verwoert