I’d just finished cutting my grass and beamed with satisfaction when a windswept trespasser — a food wrapper — shattered my reverie marring my manicured lawn.  Annoyed, I reached my ungloved hand to pick up the paper, oblivious an ant horde was speeding toward my hand like hungry football players attack Golden Corral’s dessert bar.  They ambushed my hand aflame; it throbbed and swelled like Sherman Klump’s in “The Nutty Professor.” 

I drove to Russell Medical and the emergency room physician ordered prescriptions to reduce my swelling and itching. 

About a week later I recognized my hand again. Incensed, I heaped grits and coffee grounds on the ant mounds. The ants marched around undeterred. It’s inexplicable, but to my horror and to my dismay I developed a grudging respect for ants and their audacity.

I lugged a 50-pound bag of dog food into the house to feed Hershey — a sleek chocolate Lab mix — and Gweenie — a black bear masquerading as a chow Schipperke mix with attitude vast as her waistline. Whew, one task down. 

A couple hours later while I was at work, my phone rang. 

“You’re going to have to take that dog food back. It’s filled with ants,” my wife Deborah said. 

After work, I drove from Auburn to Camp Hill and discovered the ants enjoying a smorgasbord at Hershey and Gweenie’s expense. I hefted the sack, placed it in a large trash bag and got a replacement bag from Walmart. That grudging respect I had developed for ants vanished with speed similar to hummingbirds flapping their wings. After all, the ants violated rule No. 1: Don’t harm the pooches. 

I bombarded the ants’ crawl spaces with enough spray and powder to exterminate innumerable ant colonies. 

Why did I only engage in sporadic biological ant warfare? Was I an executive board member of the international ant lovers’ club? No. However, the scriptures laud ants and that restrained me. 

“Take a lesson from the ants you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise.” — New American Standard Bible, Proverbs 6:6 

This scripture has often fired me to increase my effort and efficiency. And that motivation often proves the difference between squandering potential or fulfilling it. In fact, Alabama coach Nick Saban believes his players’ successes are aligned with their willingness to embrace doing the things they don’t like. This maxim pertains to all people.

Ants trample difficulties and discouragement. Yes, Thomas Edison invented the electric light but that discovery was punctuated by 1,000 unsuccessful attempts. 

Thus, a reporter asked Edison, “How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” 

Edison replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.” 

Edison was ant man. Certified. He refused to bow to discouragement or difficulty. And he refused to allow others to create the narrative for his life. 

J.K. Rowling, the creator of Harry Potter, was rejected by 12 large British publishers. Rowling’s Harry Potter books are the best selling series in publishing history. 

Ants are elite planners. You must plan. For example, prepare for your job interview by researching the company, its founder, its mission and prepare questions for your interviewer. I used this Vincent Lombardi quote to end an interview. “The quality of an individual’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence regardless of their field of endeavor.” 

The quote compelled my interviewer to hired me right there at the highest rate. Plan for your interview by recording, practicing and reviewing your mock interviews on your smartphone.    

The ants are small but possess great wisdom.

Marc D. Greenwood is a Camp Hill resident and weekly columnist for The Outlook.