We are all made of the same stuff. billions of years of stars being born and exploding has somehow included us in the astronomical, gastronomical digestion of the universe. Of course this doesn't extend only to humans but to all living things. Including the huge trail of ants crawling across my kitchen floor. When I was younger I would sit for hours and watch ants. I would try to imagine what it was like to be an ant, what it felt when the tiny reward centers lit up in its tiny brain.
Now with what appears to be over a thousand of them creating a line from the trash can to a hole under the sink, I was feeling a bit less empathetic. I related this to the person who Iwas talking to on the phone.
“Kill them” she said matter-of-factly. As if it was obvious that the arrangement of star shit that me and her were made up from was vastly superior to the slightly smaller simpler arrangement that made up the ants. I grabbed a bottle of dish soap and spilled it on the hole under the sink. It swallowed up the ants like a dam breaking over a small town. I then grabbed a spray bottle and sprayed the line from the trash to the sink like a plane dropping bombs on fleeing refugees. And the tiny moving black dots turned into not moving black dots. I was a little disturbed at how I felt almost nothing while doing this. Was this how dictators felt when they killed people? Was it because I was literally so high above them that I could simply turn them off forever without a second thought?
I pulled out the trash and began to clean the whole kitchen. As I mopped the floor I felt something on my bicep. It wasn’t pain. More of a feeling of slight discomfort. I looked at my bicep and saw a single ant trying to dig its mandibles into my skin. Without thinking I said “good for you”.
The ant reached me. It made me feel something and I had to acknowledge it. I then put on the sink. It was already partially poisoned from the cleaning spray I used. It wriggled in a way that I could not deny was pain. Yet I hesitated to kill it. If I put it out of its misery i would have to acknowledge that it was capable of misery. That I was a source of its misery.
I ignored it.
I cleaned off the counter around the ant. Sweeping crumbs into my palms that were 10 times bigger than it.
when I was younger i would take some bread to the ant hills and sprinkle crumbs on them. I would watch them dance excitedly as they collected the crumbs.
I wiped up the trail of dead ants on the floor and tossed them in the trash. All while the single Ant on the sink counter writhed in pain. Finally i couldn't take anymore and I pressed on it hard with my finger, ending the ant’s pain. I flicked it into the trash with the rest of them and continued living the rest of my life.