The other day, my son told me about what he saw in the dirt and trees. He said, “It was really strange Dad. Two ants from opposite directions ran right into each other. They continued until the first half of their bodies were both upright and their front arms knocked against each other.” Now, what we didn’t do was talk about scientific terms and conduct a review of events with an encyclopedia search etc. No, that was for school. I asked him what he thought had happened and why, and that’s when the adventures began!
First, as was typical for him, he went for warfare and described the ants as warriors locked in an epic duel. They met, as they always did at that hour, to fight over a bit of land they both claimed was theirs. With quotes of Gandalf’s, “YOU shall not pass!” mixed with Monty Python’s Black Knight, “NONE shall pass!”, the combatants entered into mortal combat! However, as my son watched, he said the ants paused and then moved around each other and went on their way. As cries of “Fly you fools!” and “I’ll bite your legs off!” faded in the background, the interaction of the ants brought a different scenario to mind.
Next, he saw them as brothers who had embraced after being lost in the vast jungle of our backyard. Last night’s storm had separated them and they didn’t know if they’d ever see each other again. It was a teary eyed moment for my son, then it was over. The ants didn’t even wave goodbye!
It was at this point that my daughter added her take of events. With all of the stories that filled her mind, she imagined them as a man and woman’s forbidden love for each other. Like Romeo and Juliet, the two said goodbye before they were forced to depart.
These stories were a great example to me of time well spent. Video games, tv shows, books, movies, and the like, take their places as parts of entertainment, but they shouldn’t be our only source. Using story as a means of explaining the world around us can bring us closer together like the long lost brother ants. It helps us see different perspectives, and have fun imagining their tales. In case of competing imaginations, like the Gandalf and the Black Knight ants, we can save the real battle for Mount Doom and the holy hand grenade… Don’t forget, being ridiculous can also be a lot of fun, like trying to see parallels between Tolkien and Monty Python. Not taking ourselves too seriously can help before anyone loses an eye, or a finger, or an arm and a leg. “And as Shakespeare’s romantic tales still play a part in our imaginations, it’s nice to picture them in real life, even with small critters like ants,” concluded my daughter.
The next time you find yourself outdoors and you witness a curious thing, take a moment and have some fun answering: “What do you think happened?”