By Steve Briscoe

Lessons from an ant.
(A modified excerpt from, Solitary – Without the Confinement)

A few years ago I was outside enjoying the spring air and the sunshine. I wasn’t thinking about anything specific; my mind was just wandering from one topic to another. You know what I’m talking about; where will I go for lunch today; do I have enough money in my pocket to stop and fill the bike with gas when I leave work; will we go to war with North Korea or Iran? During that flow of topics I happened to glance down and my attention was drawn to an ant walking across the concrete. In fact there were hundreds of ants all going about their business.

Nothing spectacular about that, except one particular ant was carrying a piece of debris that had to weigh ten times his total weight and was at least four times his total size. OK, before I go any further with this story, I want to publicly admit I do not know the difference between a “he” ant or a “she” ant; I’m using the pronoun “he” rather than the pronoun “she” because “he” takes only 2/3 the time to type.  So, rather than get your knickers in a bunch, just focus on the story and try to not dissect it and make it a gender bias narrative becasue it’s not; so there! OK, let’s move on.

He (he being the ant) was struggling with the task at hand, but moving along at a steady pace. Sometimes he would drag it; sometimes he would flip it onto his back and carry it; sometimes he would just tilt his head up and carry it in front of him. The longer I watched, the more intrigued I was with his action. My non-scientific mind estimated a comparison and figured if I were to carry a piece of debris of proportionate size, I would be casually walking down the street with a 2000 pound computer desk dangling from my teeth.

As he walked along, he happened to come across a storm drain and luckily walked onto the solid portion of the grated cover; open pits on either side of him. I think I recall – from one of those Discovery Channel ant documentaries – that ants are blind; so, based on what I believed to be true, his precarious position was unknown to him.

As I watched, his luck ran out and he walked too close to the edge and the weight of his treasure pulled him over the side, and he disappeared from sight. In a fraction of a second, I concluded the ant had given up the treasure and turned his attention to self- preservation some ten feet down in the dark water below; so my attention was turned back to lunch activities or how best to fight a war with Korea. I began to formulate a plan on how to get Korea to attack Iran.

The storm drain was at my feet, and whereas I was not focused on the drain, but that was the direction I was looking… ya gotta look somewhere when ya think, right? About the time I had determined getting Korea to attack Iran was above my pay-grade, my attention was diverted. A few inches from where the ant had fallen, I noticed movement and was oddly surprised when I saw the ant pull himself out of harm’s way with the treasure still clenched in his teeth. Not sure what goes through an ant’s mind during a crisis, but I know what goes through mine. Were I to be carrying a 2000 pound computer desk in my teeth and fell into a hole, the first thing I would do is drop my load… in more ways than one. But the ant did not; he continued to hold tight to his load. You could also say he held tight to his convictions, his duty, his obligations; everything was secondary to his task, even his own safety.

What could we accomplish if we possessed the same level of dedication and persistence? An ant has more dedication than we do, what does that say about us? How many times have we started a project or been assigned a task and quit because we came up against an obstacle? How many times have we cut corners and used the excuse that it was necessary because of an obstacle or, more to the point, we were too lazy to do it right?

The ant continued his trek and there is no doubt in my mind he either completed his task and delivered his treasure to the colony, or he died in the process; those are the only two outcomes possible when it comes to an ant. What about you? Are there only two possible outcomes to what you do; does your personal list of possible outcomes increase or diminish by your attitude or obstacles in your path?

Don’t let yourself be outdone by an ant. Don’t quit because you can . Quitting is easy, people do it all the time; be the exception, focus on your goal.

© 2019 Steve Briscoe, All rights Reserved

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Clowns to the left of me Jokers to the right

By J. D. Pendry

Here I am.  Stuck in the middle with you. Stealers Wheel, Stuck in the Middle With You, 1972

I was in the Army a few months when that song was recorded.  In the Army and out, it’s been my fall back philosophy.  Nowadays it’s the predicament of much of America, isn’t it?  Stuck in the middle.  Right in the middle of an internecine struggle for power and control of our country.  We watch, read, and listen to salvos fired back and forth from left and right and we the people become collateral damage to dysfunctional Congressional monkeyshines.  When Republicans were in charge, the leadership failed to solve our most pressing problems.  Now that the Democrats run half of Congress, it’s apparent there is no interest in solving any problems pressing or otherwise.  Just a warning shot across the bow of Congress.  Americans are watching.  Your hissy fits were entertaining for a few days, but no longer.  While you show your ignorance, the Republic suffers.

Did you notice, that whether clowns or jokers, they preface every statement with a declaration of, what most Americans want, what most Americans know, what most Americans believe.  Rarely does anything come from their mouths that I want, know, or believe.  What I hear is much silly political rhetoric the polar opposite of what I am quite certain I do know.  Do you reckon that’s some sort of psycho warfare?  If most Americans believe the President is a Russian agent, then I must be misinformed.  Probably I need to watch more CNN.  I understand they could use a few viewers.  Maybe my viewing time could be considered a charitable donation.

Do you want to know what I do know?  How’s this?  It won’t be long until someone creates a sexual harassment or a discrimination charge against Attorney General (AG) Barr.  From some well coached and well paid high school acquaintance he may or may not have drank beer with.   It’s the modus operandi of the Clowns on the left.  Dutifully playing their role, the Jokers on the right will declare, without a scintilla of evidence, their disgust and demand an immediate resignation.  Much as the jokers have been doing for the past two years.

What else do I know?  I suppose that depends on who you ask, but for another day.  I know the typical nattering Washington politicians, news media talking heads in general, and practically all mushy headed school kids do not fear creeping Islam.  They are not afraid of advancing Socialism and Communism.  Despite hearing room and television theatrics, they are not concerned with political corruption unless they can hang something, true or false, on to a hated opponent.  Which itself is a devious and deceitful form of corruption.  If they really cared would Mrs. Clinton be free?  Jesters and jokers, they’re not too concerned with corruption because a majority of them have their hands in the till.  There’re many millionaires running around Washington on civil servant salaries.  Honor, integrity, selfless service?  Long ago, all of that caught the express train out of Babylon on the Potomac.

What else do I know?  Washington crooks are like rabid animals.  When they’re cornered, they lash out with every lie, false charge, innuendo, and insult they can dream up.  The media ever ready to pick up their story line and run with it.  They want to spend our money on something they cannot change and cannot control.  The climate… They’ve convinced the younger generation that they’re going to die when the earth goes up in flames – in 12 years.  Don’t these kids have enough to fear already?  There’s that evil Confederate flag.  Those evil war monuments.  Statues of our founders.  The Ten Commandments.  The trauma of seeing mural portraits of George Washington on the school house walls.  Our horrible history.  Awful conservatives who want to speak on campus.  MAGA hats.  They hate the idea of legally armed citizens, yet don’t have the sense to look south and watch the Venezuelan army gun down previously disarmed citizens.  Their news source is probably Fakebook and Twitter, but all things considered probably as truthful as MSNBC or CNN.

Well I don’t know
Why I came here tonight
I got the feeling that
Something ain’t right
I’m so scared in case
I fall off my chair
And I’m wondering
How I’ll get down the stairs
Clowns to the left of me
Jokers to the right
Here I am
Stuck in the middle with you

Yep, run over in both directions I’m right there in the middle with you.  Think I’ll go reinforce the bunker.

© 2019 J. D. Pendry, J. D. Pendry’s American Journal, All Rights Reserved, EMAIL JD:

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