Ants and the Sweet Potato Mother-Lode

How does ants searching for an urban myth of a sweet potato mother lode have to do with spiritual awareness? There is a parallel.

Like many of us, ants invaded my kitchen during the heavy rains. I had enjoyed about 10 ant-free years in my home. They had only invaded once before. Since I don’t use chemicals to eradicate them, I resort to other methods.

6 Lessons From Ants As Teachers

Ants having a conferenceI start with doing a deep cleaning in the kitchen. There is usually some small morsel or drop under a counter or in a corner. And the ants will show me where it is. Just follow their trail. After doing a deep clean and going to bed satisfied that the few lingering ants would be gone by morning, the next morning there were more ants than ever.

Lesson 1: The First Clue

They were fascinated with the toaster oven on my counter. So I scrubbed it and and put it back. But that afternoon they were still all over it. So I examined it more closely. And I discovered that there were some drippings of sweet potato in the back bottom seam. I used to cook my sweet potatoes by placing them on the rack in the toaster oven, not bothering with a pan. Apparently there were traces of sweet potato that found their way into the tiny crack where the back wall of the toaster oven met the bottom of it.

Lesson 2: Look Deeper

After using a knife to remove some, I took the back off of the toaster oven, and immediately saw why the ants had been so determined. It was caked with sweet potato juice. Yuk! Truly gross. A regular mother-lode for the ants. They must have been incredibly thrilled to find it. So I scrubbed it off.

After a day or two of scouts still looking for the urban myth of the sweet potato mother-lode, they went away.

The metaphor was not lost on me. There are areas in each of us – dark places – that if we ignore them or don’t know about them, can accumulate quite a bit of really gross gunk. And it takes a wake-up call to get us to dig deep enough to see it and clean it up. It isn’t pretty and it isn’t fun. But it sure feels good when it’s done.

Lesson 3: The Importance of Vision

Drawing of glassesIf I’m not wearing my glasses, I may wipe the counter thinking there’s a spot on it. But it could be an ant. How many times have I not been focused on something I am doing in my life and just unconsciously wiped it away?

It’s important to wear my glasses in the kitchen for another reason. I have a friend who has been struggling with a persistent ant invasion in her home for months. She informs me that they taste TERRIBLE. So I need to wear my glasses to make sure that I am not about to drink water from the counter-top filter that has an ant in it. Or that they didn’t find my lunch if I leave it unattended for a moment.

And, it’s important to have clear vision in our lives too. If we can’t see a blemish in our thinking, or if we have blind spots, the effect is more far-reaching than an ant on the counter.

Lesson 4: Sometimes I’m an Ant-Slayer

Squish AntI must admit that I have resorted to violence and mayhem. There were 3 occasions when I succumbed to the urge to squish the persistent little varmints.

Rationalizing (rational lies-ing) that they did not have permission to be in my home and this was the price for trespassing. After all, I’d been nice for so long. I’d given them a chance. As one Facebook friend put it in his similar situation, he committed mass murder on these tiny creatures.

Lesson 5: Ongoing Vigilance

Sinlge antFor about 2 months, I have kept my kitchen immaculate. An ant scout or 6 would show up most days. I wipe the counter with Simple Green after every use.

One day while making dinner, I left the outer layer of an onion on the counter for about a half hour while I cooked. Just to see how the ants would react. They disappeared completely for a few days.

But yesterday I must have dropped a tiny sliver of chicken on the floor. What the heck is that spot? Looking closer, at least a dozen ants were feasting on that tiny scrap less than a 1/8 inch by 1/6th inch. Man! Guess I’ve been slacking. Can’t let up for a moment. These ants are uber-persistent! I watch them doing their little ant conferences. Probably communicating where the latest morsels are.

But it’s been about 6 weeks now that I’ve been working this, and I think it’s time to put out the borax and sugar. I hate destroying them. But I need to do something. They seem to think of it as their home. And it’s time for me to take it back.

Lesson 6: Not Letting My Mind Attract Ants

Om SymbolSo my mind, like my kitchen is requiring constant vigilance. Constant cleaning.

For my kitchen it is various cleansers. For my mind, it is meditation. If I miss a day, I notice that my day accumulates gunk. Instead of ants, I get visited by negative thoughts, or a day with less resilience. My feelings are not as clean and bright on days when I skip meditation. I feel hurried and harried. So it is an ongoing need for my mind as well.

It is demanding work. And I may bring in some reinforcements. For my kitchen, I’ll try a borax and sugar mix that worked for my neighbor. For my mind, that’s seeing my Practitioner. Yes, Practitioners have Practitioners too. It helps when in the thick of something to have someone else’s viewpoint and vision of our true Nature.

How About You?

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