A Case of the Ants

Beach. Sunset. Relaxation. Bliss. Ants. Love.

Last week I switched into “daydream mode” while staring at a picture of a sunset. I envisioned myself laying on the sand, listening to the waves, the wind blowing against my skin, while filled with an impenetrable inner peace where nothing worried me or consumed my mind.

My daydream came to an end – right before I was scheduled to dive into my book and get lost in its pages for hours – because my curious mind started wondering what happened behind the scenes while the photographer captured this image. Did the photographer know this image would be admired by many? Did the photographer capture this out of pure luck; something the photographer snapped, without too much thought or effort, and then discovered its beauty while skimming through the images on the memory card? Or did the photographer work diligently to capture this beautiful sunset image? What obstacles did the photographer face on the way to the beach and during set-up? Traffic, no parking, low battery, beach strollers walking in front of the camera at the precise moment a picture was snapped, sand getting everywhere as the wind blew uncontrollably, and the list goes on.

Now that my thoughts are on a roll I start thinking about the many pictures that capture our “perfect moments” that  were an absolute nightmare to capture. Christmas cards – all we see are the perfect smiles, hair in place, wrinkle free clothes – but the reality is it probably took many attempts to get everyone to smile and look in the same direction at the same time.

The last time my fiancé and I ventured to the beach we wanted (and needed) to relax. I remember counting down the minutes until it was time to get out of work. On my way to meet my fiancé I thought about the AMAZING time we were about to have. I was certain things would turn out exactly or better than I imagined, that’s how it always works out anyway, right? Wrong! We did have a fabulous evening watching the sunset, but as always there were “mini obstacles” we needed to address before our dream became a reality.

We didn’t expect the ginormous ants that invaded our picnic blanket at the precise moment we were about to nod off for a mini snooze. We didn’t expect the sun to be so hot – really Jackie?- and make us all sweaty. Could things move along a little faster so that we could get to the relaxing sunset part? The sand seemed comfortable in my dreams, but I kept re-positioning myself because my arms were falling asleep. We addressed the ant situation, rolled up a few shirts from the car to make a pillow, moved under the shade to block the sun, and finally were having things go the way we envisioned.

We will always face obstacles on our journey through life. We get lost in our dreams, overlooking the small details or struggles we may encounter along the way. We panic when things don’t fall into place as easily as we envisioned. The sunset picture made me realize that something beautiful can come out of our messes; beautiful messes. These bumps season our lives. They make moments memorable. When we were at the beach with ants all over the blanket we may have been momentarily frustrated, but now we can look back and laugh at the invasion of the ants. Would I remember this moment without the ants or would it be another moment taken for granted? Likewise, relationships can be everything we’ve dreamed them to be despite their imperfections. We can adjust how we approach one another, find productive ways to overcome our obstacles, adapt to change, work as a team, and create this beautiful thing called love. Our relationship becomes stronger after each bump in the road. We look at each other knowing where we stand in our commitment to making things work. We appreciate our efforts. We look at our pictures knowing everything that lies underneath which made that treasured moment possible. We are aware of the challenges we’ve faced along the way but remain focused on the overall beauty of who we are together.

It’s perfectly normal to lose a little. Maybe we need to struggle a little to find out the value of what we have and what we want. If all were sunshine and butterflies we would say “I love you,” just as easily as we say “hello.” After suffering, facing a few setbacks, and loving again, we can look into someone’s eyes understanding the beauty of those three words. We can work together to overcome the challenges we weren’t expecting. Laugh at the “ants” that invade our everyday lives.

Love is a choice to give someone our hearts while being aware of how badly it can break.  Love is a choice to love one another through the imperfect moments. Love says I trust you, I give you my most valuable possession, the one thing I will take with me when I leave this earth, in hopes that in return you love me too.

No one said it would be easy, but it would be worth it. Cheers to the ants of life.


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