Perched on the edge of my garden chair, I lean over to get a closer look at the multitude of tiny ants busying around my feet. Their movements seem so haphazard, going in one direction, switching to another, marching in wide curves than staccato back and forth movements, popping down a crack in the payment, popping right back up and then more circling. Each ant seemingly involved only in their journey as from my overhead view I don’t see one connecting with another. Nor from my perspective are they working as a group, just a bunch of tiny dots frantically running around.
Totally engrossed and really wanting to know what they are up to, their purpose, their destination, I pick an ant and study its’ winding, erratic (or so it seems to me) path. No easy challenge. Keeping my eyes on the fast-moving tiny dot I watch, trying to understand the where and the why of the ant. I can’t see any food or any carrying, just frenzied movements, here, there and back again with no repeat pattern.
Each time I think I know where it is going I surmise the why. Only to find my theory, the story of the ant, totally changes as inevitably he doesn’t go where I think he will. My brain trying to understand or believing I do ends up mimicking the fast movement of the little guy.
The ah ha! moment suddenly drops when I realize how futile of me to think that I can understand the mind of an ant. That I know what he is doing or why he is doing it. I am not an ant.
Isn’t this such a reflection of every day relationships? We see someone running around doing this and that caught up in their own world and we surmise that not only know what they are doing but why they are and also what they are thinking while they do it. However can that be possible?
Okay, once we know someone quite well we know their patterns of thought and can to some degree get an insight into what is going on in their heads. But, how many relationships have fallen far because we sit there making up stories about another. Why so and so hasn’t called or why they are acting in a certain way. It is all too easy, to believe our assumptions, judgement, made-up stories. Then what do we do? We relate based on our pre-judgment, often leading to misunderstanding. We believe that we know, that we are right until the ant suddenly does the unexpected and totally throws us.
The truth of the matter, the only way I could understand the ant would be to ask him what is going on and then I will only really know if he wants to tell me and I have the willingness to look out through his eyes to fully understand. For how can we know the mind of another unless “we walk a mile in their moccasins?”
Communication is the key here. Instead of thinking we know why she is doing that, stop and have the conversation. It can be quite surprising as well as refreshing to discover how incredibly off target we can be.
Life is about perspective and the only way to really truly know another’s is to have the conversation. So, pull up a chair, lean over and talk to that ant.