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The Colony

Cameron Purcell

"Blooming in the Night" Emma Zimmermann

At first glance, this park is peaceful. Simple. The trees and the plants are almost entirely motionless unless acted upon by an outside source. There is very little noise outside of the light breeze; cool, but not at all uncomfortable. The animals all around me are hidden–nigh invisible. They are either stalking their prey or sneaking away from a predator. Then, of course, there’s me. I sit here, observing, and for a brief moment I actually believed that everything was calm and quiet. Sure, on a base level, on a human level, it is. But the smaller you go, the more hectic everything gets.     


The small ants crawling by my feet, for example. Marching single file, most likely all headed towards a food source. Now, one might not think too much about this at first, since ants are really nothing more than a bunch of moving black dots to us, but the more you think about it, the more miraculous you realize this seemingly simple feat is. These ants clearly don’t have the intellectual capabilities of a human, but yet they somehow manage to follow each other in a single-file line. Not only are they following each other single file, but every one of them also manages to perfectly carry out their goal in a unified effort, all without uttering a word to each other!     


Not only are ants coordinated on the field, but in other aspects of their life as well. All ants are devoted to a purpose–to one singular cause. All ants serve the queen. These ants aren’t merely getting food to keep themselves alive. No; in fact, these ants are just couriers, out to collect food to bring back to the colony. Most of them will only get a small portion of the food they collect, but they don’t mind. In their minds, the queen and the colony comes first, and they are nothing more than disposable.     


Some ants have it even worse; take the male ants, for example. Sure, they don’t spend their entire lives working like the females do, but at least the females get to live out their entire lives. Male ants live for a fraction of their lives, until they are sexually mature, at which point the male mates with the queen and is then killed by her. Once again, they live to serve, and the second that they are no longer useful, they are cut out like a cancerous tumor. Each ant lives and dies underneath the rule of their queen, never questioning, never disobeying.     


There are millions of ants in a colony at any given time, and yet us humans barely even notice them. On our level, they are just a bunch of little specks carrying out some meaningless task; rarely do they disturb us or even pique our interest. On their level, however, they spend hours tirelessly working to serve their fellow ant. Hundreds, if not thousands, dying each day in an attempt to gather food just to survive.             


This is what I meant about nature not being simple in the slightest. All of this is happening underneath our feet every day and every night. I’m not only referring the ants but all of nature and the creatures that reside within. The roots of the trees are growing in a desperate attempt to find water and the rabbit runs away from everything that even remotely looks like a predator. Yet we, the ignorant giants that we are, couldn’t care less. After all, we’re just here to enjoy the scenery.

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