I realized there was this tiny hole beneath my foot that was actually a work-in-progress for a group of ants. Each took turns to get inside the hole, moistened a tiny fraction of the sand such that it clumps together and carefully hauled it out of the hole with its tiny body. Going by their doggedness and the relentless nature with which they went about their digging, it appears they have actually been doing this all day long. Some of them (each probably took its turn) would occasionally wander about their so called territory apparently to ward off intruders while the rest diligently stuck their task.

I wanted to see how they will respond to an alteration of their routine so I placed a small round and light object at the entrance just enough to cover the hole. Two of the ants got trapped inside and they kept tugging at the stone while the rest outside kept wriggling their bodies and pushing the stone by its side till their effort finally paid off and a gap, large enough to contain an ant was created. Two of the ants then kept on trying to push the stone further away while the rest resumed digging and hauling as if nothing happened using the tiny entrance they have been able to create in between.

I marvelled at their willpower when I noticed after a while that those digging and hauling had carefully expanded the entrance, creating more room for easy passage in the process rather than wasting their strength trying to shove the stone. When the entrance got big enough, even the two ants that stuck to pushing the stone immediately abandoned the task and came back to their usual digging and hauling. It was straight back to business.

The resilience, diligence and how organized their approach to carrying out their task created such a lasting impression on me. I couldn’t help but marvel at the strength in these tiny creatures. The obstacle I placed in their way only hindered their progress for a while but could not stop them from pressing forward. Little wonder, the Bible uses them as a model of wisdom. “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider her ways and be wise!” Proverbs 6:6. “Four things on earth are small, yet they are extremely wise: Ants are creatures of little strength, yet they store up their food in the summer.” Proverbs 30:24-25 [NIV]. The ant has been famous for centuries for its social habits, foresight, economy and industry. Collecting their food at the proper seasons, they bite off the end of the grain to prevent it from germinating and lay it up in cells till needed. The success of these insignificant animals is due to their instinctive sagacity and activity, rather than strength. Aside these, perseverance is also a virtue that was re-emphasized as I mulled over my observation of these wonderful creatures. Anyone that wants to achieve anything worthwhile in life must sure be willing and able to persevere. Nothing good they say, comes easy!