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The waltz of the Black Ants

Discussion in 'Cheeniya's Senile Ramblings' started by Cheeniya, Aug 16, 2009.

  1. Cheeniya

    Cheeniya Super Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    The Waltz of the Black Ants

    It is only on Sunday mornings that I do my usual research about The Hindu while sipping a heavenly cup of Coffee Day. What is it that makes this paper, that is just about as glamorous as a nonagenarian lady who has forgotten to put on her dentures, ward off competition from glossy, glamorous newspapers that keep flooding the market from time to time? What has been sustaining it for over a hundred years despite the fact that the style of news reporting has undergone a sea change? I do this research week after week but can never find an answer to this vexatious riddle. When I was about to throw the paper down this morning after an unsuccessful two hour attempt to unravel this mystery, I saw two tiny black ants (affectionately known as Pillayar Erumbu in this part of the country) making a beeline to a small piece of Gokulashtami sweet that had fallen on the ground. The ants went around the sweet tentatively before deciding that it was fit for formic consumption. Then they did a few incomprehensible movements and after a few seconds, hundreds of black ants descended on the scene from nowhere!

    A few enterprising ants tried to lift the piece of sweet while others stood around clapping them and encouraging them. Many waltzed around the them aimlessly and the whole scene was reminiscent of the Dahi Handi breaking ceremony (uriyadi is how it is known in the south) of Janmashtami. It was just a rollicking, fun filled day for the ants when the maid came armed with a broomstick like one of those English witches who always predict gloom and disaster with blood curdling chants like “Fair is foul, foul is fair”! She swept the happy ants off the floor in one mighty sweep which made me wonder how many would have survived this calamitous intervention. I have often heard that all good things come to an end but bad things last forever but this was the first time I was privy to a disastrous end to some unbridled fun.

    Whenever we are in the midst of some joyful action and a sticky guest arrives at that point, we always refer to him as a ‘bear making his entry while we are offering our prayers to God’! I really do not understand the significance of this statement. I do not deny that offering Pooja to God is a pleasurable activity and logically more people coming in to participate in it should mean greater happiness. You know what I mean. The more, the merrier kind of stuff. But what is implied in this statement is exactly the opposite. So I am led to think that it is not the guest’s entry per se` at the time of Pooja that elicits such a hostile comment but the possibility of his staying on beyond the Pooja to partake of the mouth watering ‘prasad’ that makes him unwelcome. I am mentioning this particularly here to make you understand how brutally critical we can be about guests who put in their appearance at inappropriate moments. I want you to think of the servant maid who walks in and sweeps away a bunch of ants while they were having the revelry of a life time. But then all these rules apply only to humans and we are least bothered about what the lesser lives think of us!

    The other aspect of it is the mystery that awaits us at every turn. I would say that the fear of the unknown is unique to humans. We never cease to fear the future unlike the animals and insects. We keep prying into the secrets of future more and more just to worry about them more and more. That’s why the doomsday prophets have a whale of a time. Just think of all the predictions made about the total solar eclipse that occurred recently. Eventually nothing really happened but how many people were clutching their hearts in fright as the moment of eclipse approached! Had those black ants known or even suspected that some giant sweeper would come and cause abrupt cessation of their revelry, would they have enjoyed that moment as much as they did?

    “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He, to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.” said Albert Einstein. What a great paradox he talks about with such ease! The man who thinks he can see far into the future is really dead but the one who holds the mysteries of future in great awe is the one who bubbles with life!
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2020
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  2. sundarusha

    sundarusha Gold IL'ite

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    Dear Cheeniya sir,

    It is a pleasure to read this post on sunday morning. You have weaved a lot of philosophy just by the observation of the marching ants around the Gokulashtami treats. At least, their last moments were spent in good taste. I especially cherish the last paragraph.The comparison to "uriyadi" is totally hilarious.

    Indeed ants and other critters are blessed to live in the moment without worrying about the future like the humans. While flies and mosquitos are able to fly away from the scene, ants are the most innocent and helpless of the lot. And the black ones don't bite too! The golf legend Ben Hogan said "As you walk down the fairway of life, you must smell the roses, for you only get to play one round". The ants seem to have followed this while we humans would miss golden opportunities due to fear and waste time blaming others and fate.

    Norman Cousins once noted that "the tragedy of life is not death, but what we let die inside of us while we live".
     
  3. Cheeniya

    Cheeniya Super Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    My dear Usha
    I must confess that your FB is a lot more meaningful than my thread. In a few lines, you have brought out the essence of what I tried to convey through an interminable rambling! A big 'WOW' to you!

    Man is the only animal that is capable of ruining its beautiful present by a constant worry and fear of the future. It is the biggest curse that has befallen humans when Adam took the first bite of the Forbidden Fruit! that quote of Narman Cousins is a real gem that needs to be imprinted on everyone's heart. Thanks a lot for mentioning it here Usha.
    Sri
     
  4. iyerviji

    iyerviji IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Cheeniya Sir

    This time I missed to give the first fb. Everyday I was watching whether you have written anything new. But if I had given I would not have been able to give superb fb like Usha.

    What a superb post you have written just with the marching of ants. That shows how much you observe everything, not only observe but u can write a valued post also on that.

    As Usha says at least the flies can fly away but poor ants dont know when people will attack them. I usually dont like to sweep the ants especially the black ants but what to do we cant leave them also like that.

    A good topic very well written.

    Regards
    viji
     
  5. Chitvish

    Chitvish Moderator IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Sri,
    The very title of yours The waltz of the black ants Is so enticing and hopefully, you will follow it up with The jazz of the red ants!
    I love the way, you have woven words so beautifully around an everyday happening which we do not bother to think about. Like your maid, we just spray Hit or Flit and think gleefully ’good riddance of a nuisance’!
    My opinion about a guest entering during our prayer time differs. Our concentration gets distracted because our scriptures have said ‘adhiti devo bhava’. We suddenly start worrying, who should be given preference? – God or adhiti! But your line of thinking makes sense too, more because probably, you are still thinking of the goodies (read prasadams) of Gokulashtami.
    As you say the fear of the unknown can cause havoc in our thinking process. Last week, a friend of mine was (very gracefully,ofcourse!) shown the way out of his office because he was sneezing with a mild cough as well and his boss got panicky that they were the sure symptoms of the present scary monster ‘swine flu’!
    Very often, we do no bother to live the present moment with all associated pleasures, worrying about the possibility of a freak unhappy (unlikely, as well!)incident in future, looming large in our minds. Vish’s friend had to face a police enquiry (ofcourse,for no fault of his) and from that day he started his rambling to his wife –“I might be shifted to Puzal any time with the police hovering around me; so stop serving rice for lunch, but serve kanji instead,for me to get accustomed!” So much for the ‘doomsday’ thoughts of a well educated human being!!
    I loved best Usha’s quote of Ben Hogan. We have to compulsorily develop the art of adding life to our days rather than days to our life. This is because we are too busy with our everyday lives rather than enjoying each living moment of our lives.
    Love,
    Chithra.
     
  6. Cheeniya

    Cheeniya Super Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Viji
    I can't thank you enough for visiting my forum regularly and giving your FB. If not first, you are invariably second. No writer can continue to write if what he writes finds no viewers. That way, you are one of the strong reasons why I continue to write.

    You are right. Sundarusha has a unique way of expressing herself. Her language is classy and I always look forward to her FBs.

    I have to accept your argument that we are hostile to small insects not out of any morbid hatred but out of sheer necessity. It is indeed difficult to remain passive when a hundred black ants crawl all over you even if they are harmless. It is possible only for sages like Bagwan Ramana Maharshi. He once trampled upon an ant hill unknowingly and the agitated red ants started attacking his leg. He stood there smiling until the ants had their total vendetta!
    Sri
     
  7. AnishaR

    AnishaR Senior IL'ite

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    [FONT=&quot]Dear Cheeniya Sir,

    Well written post and I loved Sundarusha's FB. Loved the way you put your observation into this amazing post.
    [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]I also agree with Chitvish Aunty’s FB on “doomsday’ thoughts of a well educated human being”. My cousin whose just in her early twenties doesn't eat sweets and keeps advising me to stop eating sweets and avoid having sugar as our Grandmother has Diabetes :) Neither of our parents have diabetes but still she is worried. So much for a girl whose doing her Phd in world renowned University[/FONT]:)
    [FONT=&quot]Living life to the fullest and not worrying about what future holds for us is very seldom practiced. But people who do are the ones who have understood Life.

    Keep on Rambling Sir.:thumbsup

    Regards,

    Anisha
    [/FONT]
     
  8. Shanvy

    Shanvy IL Hall of Fame

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    Sri,

    When i saw the title, I wondered if you were taking a dig at the reality shows that are gracing the silver screen these days, only to realise that you had a great live performance in your living room from one of the most hard working and organized specie.

    As usha says, they did have a good last moment. what really stands out, is it not just the one ant that saw the piece, but its calling all of its friends, relatives to share along with it which is becoming so rare in us human. We will try to send the person who comes knocking from outside the door, or keep the dish closed and hidden from the view (believe me i have seen all this happening..)

    I belong to the group who believe that adithi is god, and also believe that God is giving me his blessing as the adithi. so taking care of the adithi equals to taking care of God..so no two thoughts about dealing with whom..

    but i agree that there are people who are so tuned to the future , that they forget the beauty of the moments that pass the very second. Though we read a lot on the taking time to smell the roses, and see people, little do we think about emulating any of it.

    There is not more to say as ben hogan's quote sums it up all..
     
  9. SoaringSpirit

    SoaringSpirit Silver IL'ite

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    Dearest Cheeniya Sir,

    Today is my lucky day since I get to write an FB to your wonderful post. Of course, I have been reading ALL of them but have been a bad reader/fan by not writing an FB.

    What a beautiful way of conveying such a hugely important life lesson of living in the present. I seriously urge you to consider holding regular sessions/lectures on how to lead a good life. Really, the way you bring home the point is amazing. There is no serious lecturing, no heavy language, you do not impose your philosophy yet you make all of us agree with you! Superb!

    Yes, there are many of us who constantly worry about the unknown future. I believe that worry needs no reason. People lose sleep over what "may" happen in the future. Some lose sleep over what has happened to them in the past. The few who try to live in the present are many times labelled as indifferent, insensitive or people who don't care much about anything.

    If only all of us could follow what Rudyard Kipling said when he wrote this line in his famous poem IF, "If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;"' we'd all be so much more happy!

    Thanks for letting us enjoy these unadulterated pleasures of life through you wonderful posts!

    Lots of luv,
    SS
     
  10. Cheeniya

    Cheeniya Super Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Chithra
    Thank you for a fabulous title but I wonder if I can ever write anything to match it! I remember Ananda Vikatan, or was it Kumudam, running a competition years back inviting readers to write a story justifying a preselected title. I can't flex my grey cells anymore as they have become inflexible and so I stay away from such competitions! And thanks a ton for your nice words about my thread.

    Knowing how much you worry every time a guest invites herself to your house wondering what new dish to make, I accept your interpretation of a bear in the Pooja time. I can visualise my good friend in total communion with the Almighty in the Pooja Room while you try out all permutations and combinations to cook out a new prasad!

    Don't talk so lightly of Swine Flu. Read LN sir's latest thread on the subject! You know that even Aishwarya Rai is suspected to be a victim now. Or that's what her dad in law laments!

    That guy getting accustomed to jail type of food must be seeing a lot of Tamil serials. Today, it is possible to get even a seven course dinner inside if you have the necessary resources!

    Usha's quote was indeed superb! I'll always remember it!
    Sri
     

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