For a few weeks this spring, we had ants invading our kitchen sink. We were squashing and washing, spraying and praying. It was perfectly awful. And then company came, which made it perfectly embarrassing.
Every time I walked into our kitchen, I inspected the area around the sink. Sometimes there were ants, sometimes not, but I always saw movement. I finally realized it was a combination of me wearing trifocal lenses and having a speckled granite counter top. And ants.
This went on for weeks. I diligently kept all the dishes washed and dried the sink thoroughly with a towel. We put the cookies in the refrigerator. Dan sprayed under the sink and outside with toxic stuff known to kill birds. I bought ant bait, which worked on one colony, the ones coming in from behind the switch plate, but not on the other four or five ant clans.
We used mint leaves and soap film and when our house guests suggested boric acid powder, we sprinkled that around too.
Gradually, we saw fewer and fewer ants in our home. The weather became typically Texas h-o-t and dry and we noticed there were fewer chiggers and mosquitoes in the garden. One day I announced, “Today I saw no ants in the kitchen!”
But then I did see one. No, it was my eyes. And then another. No, it was a gnat. And there! No, just a granite speck that appeared to move as my eyes switched from close-up lens to mid-distance. I learned to stand still.
I also learned, or was reminded, that we see what we expect to see. I had seen ants in my kitchen so long, I didn’t think I was ever going to have a bug-free counter top again. So I simply kept seeing them for a couple of weeks after they left.
We do that with people, too. After we’ve been hurt and slandered, we anticipate more and assign motive to innocent remarks. If we get robbed, we look for robbers. It takes time to stop looking for trouble and mischief where none is intended. It makes us jaded.
I don’t like cynics or curmudgeons and I don’t want to become one. Today I am no longer looking for ants!