Ants

I watched ants stealing from a kitchen this morning, carrying morsels of bread aloft as they ran to an unseen destination. They were thorough, and disappeared when they had finished, leaving me to contemplate a now-empty worktop.

I wondered if I ever needed to clean up again, if an ant army would take away my leftovers for ever more. But what would they do if I wasn't here, if no one lived in the apartment? Where would they go? What would they eat?

Would they have to move, to seek other kitchens, other imperfect housekeepers?

We have vast mountains of waste, trapped in tips, realising noxious gases and foul liquids as they react and ferment, all because we do not wish to allow into our lives the natural processes of decay and recycling, all because we want to fool ourselves into believing that we have moved beyond all that, into a space age of wipe-down surfaces and perfect whiteness.

But there are consequences to that delusion, and we are suffering them. Our tiny rock is stuffed with waste, our oceans teem with plastic bottles, our mouths fill up with pollution as we laugh. Yet we push it away from our consciousness, from our eyes, and pretend it doesn’t exist.

Perhaps we should find a space in our lives for the ants, to provide for them, to care, even, about how they will live and flourish. By directing our lives to provide them with waste that they can process, maybe they, in turn, can help us to live in harmony with ourselves and to accept our fragility.

Maybe they can even help us to loosen the noose of plastic waste that we have garlanded around our necks, to stop our hand as it hovers over the lever to open the trapdoor beneath.
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