The other day while I was on my daily sojourn around the office building at work with a buddy of mine (since we walk during lunch instead of eat – it’s nice to stretch the legs) I happened across a long series of ant hills in a crack in the street. Now, you must understand that I find ants fascinating. They are the epitome of cool. They function as individual units AND as part of a colony. And the awesome part of it is that the hundreds of thousands of workers work so seamlessly together that the colony itself can be seen as single entity as well. It becomes more than the sum of its parts.
As my friend and I continued walking, we talked about how the ant colony we passed was, in many ways, both similar and dissimilar to humanity. All of us have specific tasks and activities that we perform in life. Some of us are artists. Some of us are thinkers. Some of us are scholars or teachers or janitors or crud cleaners. But each of us fills a specific need and function within our society. We are individuals. And yet, in an ideal world, the human race as a whole could be seen as one homogenous unit as well.
Now, I’m not saying that we’re at the point yet – honestly I think we’re still far from that point, but what I am saying is that cohesive individuality as an aggregate is something that we should be striving for. Each chapter of our lives can be seen as an individual act, an individual moment that can stand on its own. OR be considered as part of the greater whole of life.
To relate this to writing, we writers need to be more like ants. Each chapter should have an individual and unique function and task. We being our novels with our scout chapters. We work in some harvesters, some nurses, some soldier chapters – and then we sneak in a queen and some eggs, all the good stuff – all of which work together in order to come up with something that, together, is more than the sum of its parts. We aren’t simply trying to string a bunch of chapters together (either in writing or in our lives) but to make those chapters obtain cohesion and become a single homogenous entity all of its own. We search for harmony, but it can only be obtained through discordant parts working together in chaotic unity.
So, as my friend and I walked and talked that afternoon, I decided that I need to be more like an ant. Not prone to being burned by magnifying glasses or burned alive by scalding hot water – though those are great dangers of being an ant, that and anteaters – but of striving to obtain cohesion in a world of discord. And to somehow decide to make both my life and my writing become something more than the sum of its parts. Some walk huh?