The Ant that Looked Up


I once had an interesting thought whilst watching an ant crawl around my foot. Believe it or not, it’s a thought I’ve tried many times to express in such a way that would really capture how interesting it was to me in that moment…and I have failed miserably every time. I will probably fail again because usually it is impossible to capture in words what feels like an ‘inspired’ thought, or at least in any way get close to expressing it such that someone else would understand. Trying to do so often feels like being an eye witness to something amazing and giving your report of what you saw, all the while knowing that your words sound either too limp or too exagerrated and that really someone simply ‘had to be there’ to understand…

But I’m stubborn and for that reason I’m going to try once more and see if I can get a little closer this time.

The thought was quite simply this: That when I deliberately placed my foot down directly in front of the ant – essentially blocking his intended path across the pavement – for a split second he DIDN’T look up. And believe it or not, that’s the entire point of this personal reflection. He DIDN’T look up.  And I remember thinking, ‘why didn’t he?’

If even for a second he’d stopped in this tracks and looked up, and said to himself,

What on earth is that!”  

…before going back about his business – I’d have understood. But he didn’t. The equivalent of a skyscraper had suddenly landed in front of him and not only did this ant not look up at my foot, or my leg or at me at all, he actively went on about his business as if nothing at all had happened.  Clearly he could see my foot because now he was choosing to walk around it and not bump into it. So he clearly could see me, and clearly I hadn’t been there a moment before. But although he could ‘see’ me, he obviously couldn’t comprehend me…or at least was just TOO BUSY GOING ABOUT HIS ‘BUSYNESS’ to stop and think about it. He just kept his head down, manoeuvred around me like you would walk around an unexpected pot-hole in the pavement, and just carried on carrying on.

It struck me that this is probably exactly what we do in life when miracles, happen around us or even to us. And more to the point, it struck me that if a miracle were to happen in our lives tomorrow, if we were like the ant, we wouldn’t even notice it at all.

Black and white shot of newborn baby right after delivery

Childbirth – a miracle or just a process?

Some people have a child and barely even notice the miracle of it. Perhaps because of their circumstances, their mental state or just their lack of readiness to have a child – it almost doesn’t matter the reason. But why is it that some people experience the ‘miracle’ of childbirth and the awesome realisation of what it means to be gifted this incredible and overwhelming role of being the protector and guardian to this brand new little life…. whilst some just endure what can essentially be viewed as just an extreme physical challenge of delivering and hosting a baby, followed by the massive mental and emotional strain of the responsibility for looking after this helpless little being for a few years. In both cases the miracle remains a fact. It did happen and it is happening. The miracle of the child and how it came into being from almost nothing, is as much there as my big foot was in front of that ant’s face. Are we too zoned-out to notice…. or perhaps, just too ‘zoned in’ on the daily grind.

It made me wonder. Would I notice if a miracle happened in my life. Would I notice if the creator of this universe plonked something down right in front of my nose, or would I be like the ant – so microscopically focused-in on my daily tasks that I just manoeuvre around it as if it had always been there?

Obviously I don’t know the answer to that, but I’m inclined to think that there’s more chance I would be like the ant that kept his head down than the ant that looked up. And yet I think that’s a mini tragedy if that is the case. I want rather to be the ant who looked up – even if I haven’t got a clue what it is I am looking at. I at least want to notice that something happened. Something HUGE just appeared. And I at least want to ask the question “What the ‘bleep’ is that!” Because even if there’s no guarantee I’ll understand it, and even if it doesn’t change the fact that I still need to get from A to B… it just made my world a whole lot bigger.



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