December 17, 2012

hearts and ants

I am constantly amazed by the human heart's ability to bear weight much greater than its own. 
The average adult heart weighs around 10 ounces yet supports life in a body hundreds of times its size, much like ants, who can lift and carry 10-50times their bodyweight (like me carrying a  car) over distances equivalent to 15 miles for a human. It doesn't make any sense and science can't explain it, and yet everyday, in almost every climate, these animals that are smaller than grains of rice, venture out in search of food and materials for their habitats, and haul their findings home on top of their heads. 

Anatomy aside, everyday our hearts carry an incalculable amount of emotional weight and serve as a filter for our bodies to process joy, excitement, anxiety, fear, love, and grief even when we don't have the words to describe or understand what we are feeling. The heart doesn't need reasons, answers, or explanations to do its job. Every second of every day of our lives, our hearts take on anything that comes their way without being told, without hesitation, without fear of risks and dangers. 

Like all of you, my heart was crushed by the news that echoed throughout the world on Friday about the inexplicable, evil tragedy that had taken place and the countless lives that were affected by what happened. My mind is distraught with questions and thoughts, my body physically aches for the suffering of others, and my heart bears an unbelievable grief. I fell to my knees last night and wept for all of the pain in this world. I selfishly wished I could hug my own family members and tell them I love them, a simple act so many of those families were robbed of that day. I broke down under the weight of anger, sorrow, loneliness, and chaos that plagues our world. There have been moments during the past few days in which all I am capable of doing is staring silently at the wall. I have no words for all that I am feeling and yet my heart continues to beat in my chest and I know that I have so much still to learn about the limits of the human heart. 

During a time and a season when we are inundated with so many words- on the news, in the media, in songs, and on greeting cards- we are constantly being reminded of how different we are in our beliefs, traditions, and opinions. The one thing that we all have in common, and absolutely no control over, is a heart deep within us aching for a world filled with love, peace, and joy- but even amidst the anger, pain, and grief it continues to give life to our bodies despite the risks that may lie ahead. 

The daily journey is not an easy one for such tiny beings and they expose themselves to environmental dangers (weather, predators, chemicals, human feet) the second they step outside. Sadly, not all the ants that set out to work that day return home. If they are not victims of accidents, many succumb to exhaustion and collapse en route. The miracle is that the other ants do not simply ignore their fallen friend despite their heavy loads and calculated schedules. The other ants will actually drop whatever they were holding, lift the body with their mouths, and carry it back to the colony cemetery. 

The colonies are sometimes described as superorganisms because the ants appear to operate as a unified entity, collectively working together to support the colony. 

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