Ants and bees – a metaphor

This is an email I received today and I’m putting it on the blog because I like it and what it has to say to all of us. It’s by Madyson Taylor and comes from the Daily Om:

“We can learn a lot from watching ants and bees living in community and working for the greater good.

When we see ants and bees out in the world, we often see just one, but this belies the reality of their situation. More than any other species, ants and bees function as parts of a whole. They cannot and do not survive as individuals; they survive as members of a group, and the group’s survival is the implicit goal of each individual’s life. There is no concept of life outside the group, so even to use the word individual is somewhat misleading. Often, humans, on the other hand, strongly value individuality and often negatively associate ants and bees with a lack of independence. And yet, if we look closer at these amazing creatures, we can learn valuable lessons about how much we can achieve when we band together with others to work for a higher purpose.

Most ants and bees have highly specified roles within their communities, some of which are biologically dictated, and they work within the confines of their roles without complaint, never wishing to be something other than what they are. In this way, they symbolize self-knowledge and humility. They also display selfless service as they work for the common good. In many ways, they are like the individual cells of one body, living and dying as necessary to preserve the integrity of the whole body, not to protect themselves as individuals. In this way, ants personify the ability to see beyond one’s small self to one’s place within the greater whole, and the ability to serve this whole selflessly.

Ants and bees can inspire us to fully own what we have to offer and to put it to use in the pursuit of a goal that will benefit all of humanity, whether it be raising consciousness about the environment, feeding the hungry, or raising a happy child. Each one of us has certain talents we were born with, as well as skills we have acquired. When we apply these gifts, knowing that we are one part of a greater organism working to better the whole world, we honour and implement the wisdom of ants and bees.”

Dealing with the to-do list

I have discovered a great way to deal with my to-do list. You know, that list that sits on the worktop, or table, or wherever, with all the things you are planning to do when you have the time; when you feel like doing one or two of them; when you can afford it etc.

I got up the other day and made a to-do list for that day. I’ve started keeping a little book especially for the purpose. And I wrote down those things I had already done and put a big tick through them, in a different colour. I realised how good that made me feel, writing down and putting big ticks through the things I had already done. As I went through the day, ticking things off and putting in other things I had done that wouldn’t normally make it to the to-do list and ticking those off too I felt a sense of achievement that was very satisfying.

I think, for me, this is a good policy, a way of encouraging and supporting myself and appreciating that, actually, I generally do quite a lot. A lot of the day is made up of doing little things, work aside, and we tend to discount them because they are semi-automatic. Check emails, order things that we need, do the washing-up.

Doing this, and smiling at myself for entertaining myself in this way, is another small step in moving forward. We all have to keep taking these small steps – sometimes they are big steps that take a lot of courage and pats-on-the-back from ourselves – to deal with life, that huge amorphous thing we wake up to every morning. We need all the self-help we can dish out to do that.