Pine trees grow in groves and forests rather than being sparsely scattered across the landscape. They drop a lot of needles and quickly grow tall enough to hog the sunlight, leaving only their trunks at our eye level and crowding out slower-growing hardwood trees that struggle for light and space. Since the hardwoods are typically fuller and more popular, many people chop down pine trees to make space for other preferable trees. I love all life too much to do that and have mostly pine trees around my home. And then there are the ants…
Ants have taken over my lawn! No matter how much I try to rid myself of these stinging pests, I am apparently outnumbered. Fire ants bite me each time I mow the grass. Tiny ants continue to find a way into my kitchen and bathroom. Many people would have declared chemical warfare by now, but I don’t like to distribute poison and most natural remedies have as yet been ineffective.
Yesterday I was considering these generally unwanted ‘pests’ of the insect and plant kingdom and found it interesting that we humans deem ourselves worthy judges to remove all that we feel doesn’t belong. We do it with ants and pine trees and people. We do it with old architecture and natural wonders and pretty much everything else. This us-and-them mentality of competition and judgment is rampant. Why does the human ego need to be judge and jury? Could we learn anything important from our unwanted nuisances?
Pine trees are amazing to observe. Despite a relatively shallow root structure, they can live for many, many years through adverse conditions. Watching them whip about with their long trunks to survive hurricane season after active hurricane season, I see how flexibility and endurance help us win in the game of life. I watch hardwood trees fill in around them to happily coexist with their lanky friends. Pine needles protect the ground during seasons when it should be covered. Who am I to come in and remove the natural order of things to replant what I deem desirable? Isn’t that behavior rather odd when we look at it?
Ants are experts on community living. They work tirelessly together and operate as a collective in everything. In the Amazon, I observed a freeway of female carpenter ants (see photo) carrying leaves tirelessly for about a mile to the colony in their nest. Our guide informed us that the females work 24 hours a day doing that! Ants provide a service in the greater ecological synergy of life. Who am I to poison any because I want them gone? Why would I do that?
Some of the most amazing people I have ever met are outcast by mainstream society. Their beauty standing in their own unique personality, gifts, potential, and self-expression are the finest anywhere. No society can manufacture anything more perfect. Maybe the reason we humans struggle to obtain an abundance of artificial comfort and beauty is that it isn’t honoring to who we are anyway.
An important aspect of learning to love ourselves is learning to love all that is…as it is! The more I accept life and see the beauty therein, the more beauty and possibility I see within myself. May nature teach us well in this journey of possibilities we call life!