May 9, 2022

I think you can learn a lot about perhaps everything by watching ants. I just watched this colony for the last 20-30 minutes and they are such fascinating wonderful little creatures. They seem way more active today than the last few days, and i wonder if it’s in response to the rain last night. When i was squatting down i could actually hear them walking around - i had no idea it was possible to hear ants. They are bad motherfuckers too, carrying pebbles and sticks many times their body size and weight for super long distances. Thousands of them just walking around and coming in and out of the ground by their ant hill. Bumping into each other sometimes and continuing on their way. I really tried to put myself in their world and wonder what it’s like to be an ant, if anything. Watched one pick up a big pebble that was already outside their tunnels, drag it for a foot or so, and then drop it seemingly arbitrarily. What happened in its nervous system that made it “decide” to do that? That action alone can’t have improved the evolutionary fitness of the colony, but presumably this behavior is a byproduct of something adaptive about how their nervous systems evolved. It was so wonderful watching this drama continually unfold over a couple square feet of dirt. It also occurred to me that this expression of life is happening everywhere on the planet all the time, and probably throughout the universe too, and has been for billions of years and will for billions more, at many different scales. It’s pretty amazing that we all get to be a part of this cosmic drama. As i was feeling their delicate little bodies crawling around on my fingers and toes and noticing similar intricate details of my own body that i rarely pay attention to, something became clear to me: “connection with nature” is missing the point - we are nature and it is us.

(written near Capitol Reef in Utah)

(cover photo of the Ant Nebula taken by the Hubble Telescope)
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