Living, life decisions, life hack

Ants and The Straight Line of Life

Here’s the definition of a Straight-line — containing, characterized by, or relating to straight lines or motion in a straight line.

Hm…let’s try this one: A line with no curvature; a line with constant direction.

Okay…got it.


Ever see ants scurrying about?

It appears they’re lost, confused, and well…just lost.

They bump into a grain of sand, turn around and head back toward the direction they just came. Then they’ll scamper around a blade of grass, dodge a twig, summit a mound of worm castings, round a dirt clod to find themselves bumping into the same grain of sand again.

Did you know that ants use a variety of means to find home?

Vibrations, chemical trails, eyesight, peeping—yeah…peeping. Peeping is where they drop their large cache of food, look around for a clue as to where they are, adjust, and BAM! Home again.

If you or I get caught peeping, we’ll have to explain ever so delicately to the officer that stops us as to why we’re…peeping.

Oh, they count steps. I can barely count anything with all my digits without having to start over. Seriously, I have NO clue how many steps I need to take out my front door to reach the curb.

There are three different types of memory they use. I can’t even successfully recall one memory thingy:

“Honey, where’s my sunglasses?”

”Um, on your head?” she gently reminds me.


Here’s something mind-boggling…

An experiment in an attempt to confuse ants by surgically removing or adding a portion of their legs!

WTH!? Who thinks this stuff up?

Apparently, some sadistic researcher was finally able to confuse an ant or two by this surgery, and they couldn’t find their way back home.

The good news here is that because I have a hard enough time remembering the simple things of life, where I am, or what I’m doing currently, I doubt any lunatic is going to try to confuse me by surgically altering my limbs.


Detours suck.

Some general, way back when, said, “No plan ever survives first contact.” Grrr.

We plan, we analyze, we run analytics, we study the data, we get it all figured out…

And still, the uncertainties of life rear up in the midst of our perfect plan!

Right in the middle of our straight line.

It’s hard enough to execute on a life-changing plan without all these unknown elements life throws at us.

Then, I begin to wander around like an ant—except for said ant actually knows where the hell they’re going!

So, the wandering becomes a detour.

And detours can lead to massive frustration because they’re NOT part of the plan.

And in the midst of a detour, it’s far easier to try to numb the mind with distractions: T.V., music, doing a chore that doesn’t necessarily need to be done right now; email, Facebook, and a plethora of other things; instead of the hard work of quieting ourselves and spending time with our thoughts and emotions.


In the midst of a detour, it’s easy to get caught up in the blame game; blaming others, and…blaming ourselves: for being stupid, for not thinking, for not doing it right, and for a ton of other things that lead us into self-guilt, self-hate, and self-induced stress and worry.


In the midst of the detour, if you’re like me, you’ll impose some strange self-imposed time constraints as to when the detour should end.

It’s all very draining.


I’ve spent a lifetime in which I have thrown myself onto an anvil and incessantly beat it into a shape with the heaviest and coldest hammer I could find: hammered into a form that I thought I would gain love, acceptance, and understanding from those who I wanted that from.

I didn’t love myself. I was more worried about forcing and coercing love. It’s all I’ve known.

I realized that I needed to change from trying to gain approval from others and learn how to approve and love myself.

To forgive myself.

And with graciousness, let others walk out of my life that wanted no part of me unless I performed a certain way, or said certain words, or believed certain whatevers.

Even when I did try to pound my life into their molds, it never felt comfortable, and always left me empty, confused, and stuck—stuck in the muck and mire of someone else’s insecurities and fears.

Then I’d fret over the time spent in detours because I hate just simply waiting…waiting for the lesson to be learned while in such detours.


I try to quiet myself more and spend time in silence loosening the bands of self-imposed time constraints of those detours, because if it were not for those detours, I’d be the same while repeating the same ole.

I am grateful for all the detours and wanderings.

I am grateful for all those who’ve handed me a life based on conditions.

I am grateful for all those who said they loved me and walked away.

It hurt. It wounded. It helped.

Now, there is none to blame, only gratefulness of the experiences of those detours. A life filled with amazing squiggles, deviations, crisscrosses, and curves.

Photo by Vlad Tchompalov on Unsplash

Posted by Christian Martin Jr.