As I was enjoying my quarterly 2 mile jog/walk the other day, I cut through a patch of desert leading to another street. A gigantic ant hill was directly in front of me, so I stopped short, huffing and puffing, but intrigued.
Since hitting my later 30’s, I’ve become more fascinated by the little things in nature. All the things I used to roll my eyes over as a teenager when my dad would point them out are now in me and I almost feel sorry for the teenage me for wasting so much time only being jazzed about the big and flashy things in the world. But that’s just the way it is. (Bruce Hornsby taught me that when I was 12).
So, I just wanted to look for a minute. See what these frantic little guys were up to. They were working hard bringing nest-building booty up the hill. Some ants had sticks; some pebbles. One little fella caught my eye. He had a brown flake about five times his size. It may have been a little dried flower petal or something. However, to him, it was clearly queen-pleasing gold.
Unfortunately, the paper-thin petal was functioning like a kite or a para-sail or something. Every time the wind gusted, Mr. Ant would blow back several body lengths. Stunned, he would shake it off and start back up the hill, only to be thrown off course again. His determination didn’t falter, but every bit of progress he made would be for naught as soon as the wind whooshed again. In my one minute of watching, the ant ended up further back than he was when I first spotted him.
Perhaps I was moved by his high-apple-pie-in-the-sky hopes. A part of me thought “leave it alone!” This is nature; I’m not God. If he’s not meant to bring his dried brown flake of a flower petal to his queen, well, this just isn’t his day. Maybe it’s wrong to meddle. We’ve all got our stuff, right? We all have to figure it out on our own.
Except, we don’t. Where would I be here, on my 40th birthday, if not for my parents, my sister, my family, and my friends, especially over the last year and a half or so. The support I’ve had since my world was turned upside down with an unexpected (and thoroughly painful) divorce has turned a horrific shock into more of what I’d term a “tough life experience laced with glorious connections and growth.” Often times, I’ve felt low, but more often, I feel like Rocky ascending the stairs. “Gonna fly now!” Surrounding me, cheering me on, are all of these great people.
Some I may have expected to support me, but others have been surprises – old friends; even acquaintance. Some people, like my parents, have sacrificed financially to help me get back on my feet. Others may have just said that one perfect thing in that one important moment that lifted my chin up and helped me remember to keep putting one foot in front of the other. But day after day, I’ve had help and support.
So, Mr. Ant…how could I leave you hanging? I grabbed a stick, and swiftly scooped him to the base of the anthill. He freaked out for a second, but almost instantly seemed to realize a miracle had happened for him. He scurried into the hole, excitedly. In spite of all of that struggle, today was his day.
I think I’m going to go ahead and let today be my day as well. I am 40 today, and this milestone birthday has long been termed “over the hill.” Me and my buddy Mr. Ant, struggling to climb to get over that hill. Helped by others to make it. It’s a beautiful thing. So why lament on what was once traditionally celebrated with black balloons and faux funeral decor? “Happy birthday – you’re that much closer to dying!” Forget that noisemaker.
I’ve noticed that my generation just doesn’t treat 40 like prior generations have. It makes sense. People are living a lot longer. So the fact that I’m “starting over” at this mid-ish-life mark is something to celebrate. It’s almost like I stand to have enough time on this earth to have what would have been two complete lives in the past.
Who doesn’t love a good buy-one-get-one? I’ll take it.