I took a nap on some ants. I did not do so out of malice. In fact, it was never my intention to sleep on ants at all. Sometimes, when spontaneous naps strike you, the number of ideal places to lay your fuzzy head dwindle. A bear (me, for example) must work with what is around them. In this case, what seemed to be comfiest place on the forest floor was an ant hill.
The tiny mound looked soft and inviting. Little did I know, my carelessness would cause a kingdom to fall.
I woke to the sound of hundreds of tiny voices crying out in terror, pining over the destruction of their home. I sat up to survey the damage. It was severe and undeniably horrible.
What had I done?
A few surviving colonists clung to my nose. Some were frantically shouting in my face. A few were biting me. But the pain they inflicted upon my muzzle was nothing compared the remorse that filled my heart.
I begged for their forgiveness, but there was none to be had. The ants could not let this atrocity go unpunished. With tears welling in my eyes, I accepted whatever fate the small insects had planned for me. There was much deliberation over what course of action to take.
After what seemed like an eternity of silence, one of the ants simply said, “You must rebuild, bear. Make right your wrongs.”
I agreed. I told them it was only fair. Reconstruction would begin immediately (after I finished my nap, of course). Tiny cries of protest ringed in my ears. Some more nose biting occurred.
Realizing I would not get to complete the grievous act that led to my punishment in the first place, I set out into the forest to find supplies. I came back with the essentials for any reconstruction
- Six sticks
- Napkins covered in some kind of spicy sauce
- Three ribs from a rabbit skeleton I had been saving for a special occasion
- Dirt in an empty aluminum can that I chewed on
I placed the tools on the ground before the displaced ants.
“What’s this?” asked one of them.
Certain these ants had never encountered such items (with the exception of dirt; they seemed to be very familiar with that), I explained what they were.
One of the ants suggested they rebuild the hill themselves. It was a bit insulting. Now, I will be the first to admit I have never built an ant hill, but I suspected their structure could not have been too complex. After all, it looked like a cone dirt pillow. I had made many piles of dirt into lovely pillows for nothing more than my own enjoyment. Surely this would be no different.
I was terribly wrong.
It turned out ants are very competent builders. There was so much beneath the surface I did not understand. After trying to shove the saucy napkins into an opening of the collapsed hill, the ants told me to stop. I had done enough.
I thanked them for the opportunity to try my hand at a new trade. They did not reply kindly. Instead, they demanded I leave behind the leaves, the can full of dirt, and one of the rabbit ribs (for some strange reason).
Feeling slightly accomplished (and slightly beaten down), I trotted back to my cave to resume my nap. As the blanket of sleep began to fall over me, I wondered if other complex things in the world seemed so simple at face value. I am a bear, and inside, I am still a bear (I think). Is Rob (the squirrel) a squirrel on the inside or is his squirrelness simply a facade? Where does the outer layer of reality stop and why can our core beings be that outer layer? Why did the ants want my aluminum can?
I woke up a few hours later, hungry. As I exited my cave to do some foraging, I stepped on a wasp nest that had fallen from a tree.
Wasps are not as complex as ants or squirrels or bears. They like to sting things. That is about it.
I am a bear.
“Boris the Bear’s Circus Adventure Extravaganza of Suffer for Lonely, No” is the latest adventure you can read on helloiamabear.com! Please enjoy!