A Bug’s Life: Lessons Learnt


My grandma used to always find orginal ways to analyse the world surrounding her. Her so unsual and detailed observations each time opened my eyes before a new world. It was a new world, not because it had not been there previously, but because I had never seen it, noticed it.

In summer time, in the mountains, we would spend hours looking at ants. My grandma used to call them “miniature motorways”, because ants had chosen the flat waterpipe to water the garden as their privileged path. The ants would share the surface of the waterpipe dividing it into lanes and even in the two directions. None would ever use the wrong lane. There were ants, the fastest, who would run to collect their food supplies, and, in the opposite direction, there were ants that were going more slowly due to the weight of their load. Some ants would not make it and they were climbed over and crushed by the crowd of stronger and tireless ants.

My grandma and I would notice how ants would replicate social dynamics in a way very similar to ours, that of human beings. Those who couldn’t make it, would literally be climbed over. Those who were strong and fast, would reach first the anthill’s tunnels, where they could proudly lay down the fruits of their labour. The ants’ motorways are a suprisingly organised march. Surprising, perhaps, because we, humans, are always astonished when we discover other creatures seek order within chaos.  The social order turns into a means to overpower the others.

My grandma used to always notice the red ant, the smallest rather than the one walking with a limp. She would observe and comment on them without a hint of prejudice, rather, with admiration and suprise for them. These were my grandma’s ways of teaching me how to relate myself with the world by taking an open-minded approach and by showing always an amazing curiosity for the surrounding world.

Other times, she would tell me how she, petite in height and body structure, had decided to change her point of view.  She told me how she had climbed on a chair and had looked around imagining to be naturally that tall. She had then recounted to me how effectively the different perspective over the world was very different from up there and, how, after that experience, she could finally realise better what she, from a lower point of view, could  not see.All photos in this post were taken with my brother Enrico during my holiday in August 2010 in Denmark, in the woods near Silkeborg.

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7 thoughts on “A Bug’s Life: Lessons Learnt

  1. “Surprising, perhaps, because we, humans, are always astonished when we discover other creatures seek order within chaos.”
    Indeed, this is quite interesting re: ants and maybe even bee cultures. I bet there is an awful lot of math around. In addition, I might even watch Antz again. Unfortunately there are only a few moments when we ponder upon nature – and I am glad you do!

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