Sunday, August 15, 2010

Bites of Wisdom

I hate to say that I take things for granted, but I do. We all do. At some level it's necessary. If we looked at everything with its deserved level of respect and awe we'd be reduced to drooling and immobile dreamers. Sure, romantic in principle but not at all practical. I did have an experience yesterday that gave me pause to think about and appreciate a couple of things. What was the driver behind this quasi-epiphany? None other than the majestic ant.

While giving chase to Red Dress runners through Washington Park, I must have crossed through ant territory because I found myself feeling the stings of several mighty little mandibles; only on my left foot, and only about ten ants. I did what I'd imagine any normal person would have done, I squashed my attackers and went on my way. Unbeknownst to me, these were either genetically altered super-ants, or I've got a genetic susceptibility to ant spit.

Ten minutes later I felt light headed, had a weird rash spreading on my stomach and inner arms, and my ears and lips and fingertips felt swollen. I was probably about five ant bites away from allergic shock. That's not a feeling I've ever had before, and hope to never have again. Thanks to my photo companion and some kind elderly folks, I got some allergy medication and rest before wandering off to continue my picture taking. The rash didn't fully go away for another eight hours. It's amazing how much power little things can wield, especially considering that an ant is a feeble planet compared to a single bacterium or virus.

Maybe I've taken for granted that I'm normal (...relatively), with only a few idiosyncratic disabilities. I already knew that my skin had adverse reactions to contact with certain plants, I can't spend more than five minutes in direct exposure to the sun without frying, and now I know about the ants. Achilles had his heel, I've got my skin. Sometimes it takes a little pain to realize how good things normally are. So I've got crappy skin, but I've also got generally functional glandular, vascular, nervous, circulatory, muscular, and skeletal systems (I'm sure I missed plenty) that allow me to function within normal ranges on most fronts. Thanks mom and dad!

I thought about taking a picture of my foot the day after to show how gross and swollen it still looks, ....but then I'd have a picture of a gross and swollen foot on my blog and nobody wants that. Instead, here's a picture of some tiny ants carrying leaves that I took while hiking around a volcano in Costa Rica. Ants, by the way, are amazingly successful and adaptive creatures, worthy of a few minutes of reading. Respect the ant.

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