Life In Places With Too Much God-Awful Concrete
Weighing in at nearly 1/2 inch long, a brownish-black carpenter ant struggled to cross sun-heated white concrete.
The origin of the concrete slab began as a walkway but quickly tied into and became one with the handball court. On the far side of the court, the reddish brick walls of the main prison complex cut my view of the outside world. I was resting on a metal bench near the very edge of the slab. Just behind the back of my tennis shoes I could see grass. The ant had come from somewhere in that narrow twenty-foot by sixty-foot strip of natural earth that separated the slab from the buildings behind me, buildings which also obstructed a prisoner’s view of the outside world.
The voice of Pastor Charles Swindoll came through my headphones. He was in the middle of number eighteen out of a twenty-two-part message covering the book of Job. From day one, the series had awakened by soul. Today, my thoughts were very much tuned in to matters concerning mankind, integrity and the mundane of daily struggles. It was a good day to observer the life of an ant.
The insect seemed focused on going in the wrong direction, on heading at best deeper into the grip of this god-awful concrete. In his pinchers he carried something black and large relative to his own body size. If may have been part of another ant. Couldn’t tell.
To my mind, he was heavily burdened.
At first, I thought maybe he was heading for a nest that lay beneath the concrete, perhaps via an unseen crack or hole. But the insect’s erratic choice of direction implied confusion rather than purpose. Sometimes he would head north only to suddenly turn back to the south. Then he would circle west only to end up again facing his original starting point. If he was not lost, he was at the very least short legged on one side of his body.
I watched for a long time, the aimless struggle of the ant. I pondered the right or the wrong of intervening. In time, I stood up to help.
Moving into the critter’s northern path , I planted a solid foot on the side that led to a greater expanse of concrete. It seemed that getting back to the grass was the ant’s best move. I patted my sole against the concrete. Wind and sound caused the ant to turn aside.
It was a temporary change of direction. Within moments I saw that the critter intended to circle the obstacle that had fallen into its personal world. Even without a goal, this tiny creature refused to permit interference with the chosen lifestyle.
I moved aside. Every living creature has a certain right to make wrong choices. So I watched the ant make a choice that I could not understand nor even comprehend the objective. Round and round it went, back and forth, never really establishing a firm sense of direction or purpose. I suppose it may die in that lost condition. But who am I to challenge nature.
I went back into the barracks. Sometimes you just don’t know what to do about too much god-awful concrete.