There are a bunch of cool ants down in Cincinnati. Specifically, they are Leaf Cutting Ants, and they reside at the Cincinnati Zoo. I understand that Zoos can be a topic of controversy, like anything else. There are supporters and those who oppose. But that is perhaps for another discussion. Tonight I ain’t talkin’ ‘bout nothin’ but ants.
The Leaf-Cutting Ant, or scientifically known as the Atta cephalotes. They are highly social insects. And they are complex. All day long, back and forth, to and fro….. they cut leaves, then carry them, back to their nest.
The ants do not eat the leaves. Not a one. Instead, they take those leaf fragments and they use them as compost to grow fungus gardens that feed all the ants.
They live in a colony… with social classes … and they have a single queen that lays all the eggs. Phew. It must be a boat-load of eggs…. because….. there are up to eight million workers that tend the garden and forage for leaves. There are also some ants with bigger heads. They are the defenders of the nest.
To watch them is completely fascinating. They build huge nests—up to 50 feet across and 16 feet deep. The one down at the zoo lets you see the entire production in action. Those little ants are communicating with one another every bit of the way. They do this, in a most effective way…. using pheromones, sounds, and touch. They duck, they dodge, they snip, cut and carry. They never crash. It is like a fine-tuned-machine, I’ll tell you.
And I thought of this because I was thinking about communications. We are a planet filled to the brim with communicators. From us top-of-the-food-chain humans… all the way down to the lowly little ant.
We need to communicate to survive. To thrive. To enjoy. To work. To love. To live.
Oh sure. You know the deal.
Talk to the hand. Can you hear me now? What’s the buzz? Hold the phone! Yoooo Hoooo. And Howdy Do.
We yak. Blather. Jabber. And Yammer…… You talking to me?
Sometimes, though, this doesn’t come easy. We are in communications with others quite frequently. And most of us, wish to do this effectively, credibly, and with compassion. (Albeit, there are plenty people around who do no care about conversing fairly. They simple wish for their own thoughts and opinions to be heard.)
But for those of us who seek out valuable communication, we sometimes struggle with what to say, and how to say it. This can be a true challenge.
Which made me think of those ants. Eight million of them in a 16-foot-deep space. All working together, seamlessly. Chattering back and forth, in the most effective way.
They rely on their natural instincts. Their inner knowledge of how to interact. To know, and to be known … truly …. without bumping in to one other ant.
Maybe we could learn a thing or two from those little compost-farming, communicating-without-a-word fellas. They seem to be pretty perfect in their purpose. While we don’t need to be perfect, we can a least hope to be true and good.
“Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
― George Bernard Shaw