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The Little Ant (Part 1)

Have you ever heard the story of the little ant who took over the world? . . .  No? Well, sit down, sit down. I’ll tell you about it . . . Order some snacks . . . There you go. Do you want something to drink? . . . Perfect. I’ll take one, too.  So he was a little ant, you see. I already said that, didn’t I? . . . It’s a good story! You’ll see . . . I’ll buy the next two rounds, okay? . . . I am not. I’ve only had four. Maybe five . . . Stoned? Me? Nuh-uh. That’s you probably, not me . . . Just the regular amount. It helps with my creative process . . . Sheesh, I didn’t know you were such a prude. You are here with me, aren’t you? Who are we to judge the other? . . . I’m sorry, my friend. Mercury is out of retrograde, and I always get a little moody when it does that . . . Why couldn’t the stars and planets influence our behavior? People believe in crazier things . . . What if the alignment of the stars and planets can send a ripple through the universe? . . . Maybe you're right . . . I personally believe that anything is possible . . . Well, yes, within reason—obviously. If mass can bend space/time, why couldn’t a ripple, or an energy, or something that we can’t detect yet be out there influencing the behavior of all living things? . . . Okay, but how much do we actually know? . . . Yes, I know that we think that we know that, but, how many times in human history have we thought we knew something, just for that something to turn out to be wrong? . . .  Sure, slightly wrong might be the better way to say it. It all depends on your perspective . . . How much do we really know about the cosmos? These are pretty new scientific theories that we are using to piece this universe together. Maybe math is not a language the rest of the universe speaks? . . . I heard someone say once that life was the universe creating a memory for itself . . . He was a chemist, actually. A deeply poetic one. Sometimes, I imagine what kind of scientist I would’ve been if my life would’ve been slightly different. Maybe one day I went left instead of right when walking to class, and ended up in a lab . . . I think I might’ve been a chemist. What about you? If you had to pick a field of science to study, which one would you choose? . . . Hmmm, how interesting. Why Paleontology? . . . There is much to study out there when you really stop and think about it. You would have made a great Paleontologist . . . Maybe in a parallel universe, I am a chemist, and you are a Paleontologist . . . I am happy with this timeline, I am just saying that things could’ve been different . . . It’s only a thought experiment . . . What do you mean, you’re a great lawyer? . . . She’s a great wife, mate. I wasn’t saying that we need to change our life in any profound way, I was just saying . . . How did we even start on this? . . . An ant? Oh yes! The little ant! He was smaller than all the other ants. But he always believed that he could change the world . . . Well, because he saw the world and realized that it needed to be changed. Isn’t that motivation enough? . . . Lots of people dream about changing the world, and some actually try to . . . Yes, I know that none of them actually succeed. It’s not a bad thing to believe in though, right? We all believe that we can change the world before the world changes us . . . I know that some people don’t, but I specifically remember you becoming a lawyer because you wanted to change the world, didn’t you? . . . I am sorry, my friend. The seas of life can be dark and windy . . . It isn’t the world we hoped it was when we were kids, is it? That is why someone gets the motivation to try to change it, though. They see the cruelty and want it to stop . . . Ego?? . . . A healthy one is probably fine . . . I see what you’re saying, my friend. Who knows what the world should turn into? Only someone who thinks they know what is best for everyone would try to answer that question truthfully; and that makes them unfit to know the answer . . . That’s a fair point . . . We can see the world and recognize which parts are cruel and which parts are beautiful, though. We can do our best to promote beauty, while trying to limit cruelty, can’t we? And that doesn’t mean that we are solely ego-driven in our attempts to do that. We don’t have to have a savior complex to want to nudge the world in a better direction . . .  Maybe . . . I’d have to think about that one . . . Yes, the little ant was very little and very confident that he could change the world. He couldn’t imagine sitting around while waiting for someone else to change it for him . . . Let’s order another drink before diving into this story about the little ant . . . Me?? . . . Did I say that? I did? Er, well, alright, this round is on me, I guess . . . An old fashioned? You’re lucky that I’ve sold a few books lately, my friend. I am not made of money, you know . . . I have another one coming out soon . . . Thank you. I worked pretty hard on this one. I can almost be proud of it . . . Yes, but it never feels like I do very much. I just sit down and type, and a book starts to form . . . People use that word way too often these days . . . No, I never have. I try to stay neutral to both praise and insults. Neither phase me anymore. They both have the power to destroy us if we start to believe in them . . . Anyway, hopefully this one sells a few and I can pay rent next month . . . I used up all of my money to publish it . . . I quit that job a month ago. I needed a change . . . That’s why I can be at this bar on a Tuesday afternoon with you. I’m not a huge fan of the lighting here, are you? . . . It’s impossible to read, but I suppose no one else comes here to read . . . So this little ant had a short-ant-complex and worked out very hard. His little ant muscles grew, and so did his confidence. One afternoon, when he was supposed to be working for the colony that he belonged to, he went out exploring. A curiosity about the world beyond the colony had always tugged at him. His mother would read books that the colony had banned years ago to him before bed. He grew up with an understanding about how big the world outside of the colony was. Most ants remained ignorant to the world outside of their little colony. They were never taught anything more and didn’t have access to any kind of information they could potentially learn from . . . Yes, the control of information is a scary thing. And so is all the information that we do have access to being propaganda. How do we know what to believe when everything is a lie? And when we think we’ve found out the truth, it turns out to be a more elaborate lie. When did you notice the government doing this?  . . . Ah, yes, corporations. But, when did that start? . . .  Maybe even further back than that . . . Anyway, the ant was out exploring when he stumbled upon a pack of wolves hunting a deer. He watched the coordinated attack from underneath a log. He might’ve been a buff aint, but even he knew that he wasn’t a wolf. One wolf slowly stalked the deer in a straight-forward way, while the other two were sneaking around the left and the right. The little deer was calmly nibbling on some grass without a care in the world. The wolves crept closer and closer, and the little deer had no idea . . . Yes, that movie borrowed from wolves. Velociraptors are intimidating enough without us making up stories about how they hunted . . . It was an iconic scene though, you have to admit that? In that parallel universe where you were a paleontologist, maybe you dug up Velociraraptors? . . . Oh yeah, so the three wolves were closing in on a deer as the little ant watched from a safe distance away. The little ant felt his heart race as he watched the hunt. The forest was so quiet, but he knew that soon it would become chaotic. The wolves were seconds away from their attack. They had spent minutes inching closer. The tension was at a peak for the little ant. For a moment, he thought that he should warn the little deer. The wolf in front, hunched down, ready to jump. That was when the deer noticed the wolf, and turned around to bolt. “Enjoying the show?” a voice from right behind the little ant asked him. The little ant, admittedly, screamed like a baby ant would. He jumped and tried to run away. The wolf laughed deeply at him. The other two wolves were right in front of him, smiling and drooling. The little ant froze . . . Yes, they were hunting him the entire time. He turned back around and found the wolf that had startled him—clearly the alpha—slowly walking towards him, swaggering back and forth. The little ant could see the steam leave the wolf's nostrils with each breath the wolf took . . . He thought about trying to run, but instead, almost on its own, his body squared up to the alpha wolf. His feet shifted into position—he could feel the earth underneath them. He took a deep breath, trying to calm himself, and he could feel the steam leaving his own nostrils. He could feel the two wolves behind him slowly encroaching, ready to strike at any moment. Why am I do this?  he thought to himself. I can’t fight off three wolves? He bounced back and forth on his toes. His posture changed. He was standing as tall as he could, with his chest out and his chin down, tucked behind the shoulder—like a fighter would do. The three wolves looked at each other, before laughing hysterically in a deep and menacing way. I am going to die before changing the world . . . he thought to himself, creating a new kind of fear. And then, something started to build in his feet—an energy that seemed to be coming up from the earth herself. The energy moved up from his feet, heading up his leg. It was a slight pulsing sensation that he had never felt before—almost a vibration. It moved up his shins, and then through his knees. It felt like it was traveling through his veins and through his bones. He stumbled backwards, appearing afraid. The wolves laughed again. Then, he firmly planted his feet, narrowed his gaze, focusing on the gigantic alpha wolf directly in front of him, and took a deep breath in. The air from the woods filled his lungs. The alpha wolf stopped laughing. A cold breeze shook the trees around them. The birds stopped chirping, and held their breath—they had been watching the little ant. The whole forest was watching him. The bugs stopped crawling. The sun even broke through the clouds to get a peak at the scene; and as a result, the little ant was now standing in a beam of sunlight. He felt the energy change, not just his own energy, but all the energy around him—the energy that came from life itself. The pulsing sensation he was feeling was now up to his hips. What is this?? he thought.  I’m not in control of my body anymore. He stepped forward, towards the alpha. The pulsing sensation moved up to his stomach, and there it grew more intensely. Like a cauldron bubbling over, the energy in his stomach needed an escape. It moved up to his chest, and the little ant felt like he might explode. “What’re you doing?” the alpha asked him. “Ant’s aren’t supposed to fight against wolves? You can’t win against us. We are bigger, stronger, smarter, faster; we are everything that you aren’t. And, you are all alone. Why fight?” Am I alone? he asked himself. The pulsing sensation in his chest was almost unbearable now. It felt like the sun itself was inside of his chest, asking to burst out. He had no choice now, he stepped forward to face the wolf. He looked the alpha right in the eyes, seeing his own reflection in the black pupils. The alpha growled at him—a deep and sinister growl that only a predator could make. He stepped closer to the ant, but the little ant didn’t flinch. No, instead, the little ant, who was still looking at him in the eyes, stepped forward. And then, he took another step forward. He got right in front of the wolf, inches separating the two of them. And then the little ant let out the bottled up pulsing sensation in his chest. And to his own surprise, it manifested itself in the form of a roar—a roar that only the king of the jungle should be able to produce; a roar that shook the trees, and echoed around the forest for miles; a roar that caused the alpha wolf to accidentally let out some pee; a roar so intense that the birds flew away out of fear; a roar that lingered in the air; a roar that sounded more like thunder; a roar so fierce that the grass around them shrunk back into the earth; a roar that caused the sun to look down at the ant like a proud father would . . . I have to pee. I’ll be right back . . . Don’t worry, my friend, this is only the beginning of the story of the little ant. I’ll come back and tell you the rest of it. Maybe order us another round of drinks while I piss? . . . I’ll take an old fashioned. 

CH 5/12/24

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