When it’s normal – an ant story

This post follows from the one on Evac-to-great and continues the famous ant – Harry’s adventures with his ant cadets. Although reading previous posts would definitely provide more clarity & fun, this story also holds by itself and can be read in isolation.

After the evacuation to the “Great Hills” as Bubah, the Head of the clan put it, there was finally peace and safety in the colony. Harry’s team with the help of their enthusiastic ETCH cadets successfully charted the migration and moved the entire colony safely to the new place.

The migration itself took longer than anticipated, Great Hills as the name suggests was on the top of a mound completely concealed by thick surrounding bushes and cut away from predators. It also had multiple sites where cadets could be trained and prepared.

Bubah called the sector heads like Harry and announced that the migration is complete and the Ant Hazard Alert (AHA) can be lifted. Only Harry looked perplexed.

“Bubah! This is no time for relaxation”, suggested Harry. “Relax Harry, we are safe and we have food in bounty, no need to worry…for a long time…”, Bubah sounded relaxed. And before Harry could respond, said “Dismissed!”, authoritatively.

Harry left the camp with a concerned look. He went straight to his mentor Prof. Song, like he always did. “Ah Harry! What are you doing here instead of celebrating with your cadets…I don’t have the stock of sugar cubes for you to pick up here…”, Song received Harry with a smile and continued, “Something seems to be bothering you again, well what could it be?”

“I may be worried for the wrong reasons Prof, but I don’t think we should celebrate yet. This is a new terrain, and I don’t feel comfortable until we are prepared from the inside!”, Harry let out his concern. “Has the perimeter been secured?”, asked Song. “Yes! Some of the best cadets of the clan are patrolling it at various levels of the mound, all the way down…but…”, Harry tried to continue. “…but you don’t think that is enough! Hmm…let us examine this a little bit now, shall we?”, Song still looked very relaxed which didn’t help Harry’s discomfort.

Harry

Harry rushing to meet Prof. Song

“Tell me Harry, how many AAs(Ant-Arts) have you earned so far?”. “You know that Prof, you taught me 4 of them, I have earned 10 so far and will soon be getting an ant-belt (AB) for another AA (Ant-Art), which I suppose is the final one which an ant can master. But why do you ask?”, Harry replied in a hurry not knowing how this related to his worry.

“Yes Harry, most popular dist-ants so far have not earned ABs for more than 6 AAs, what drove you to learn more?”, Song looked suddenly serious. “I don’t know, I always felt if I gave it a try I could keep learning and feel better. I also encourage my cadets to do multiple AAs and teach them when I can”, said Harry. “Ah, I see…was fear of failure or becoming irrelevant bothered you and hence you learnt more arts?”, continued Song. “No professor, you know me, if I had the opportunity, I would keep learning as far as I can, I am driven towards discomfort…I guess!”, Harry replied reflectively. “As a good dist-ant should be”, Song spoke encouragingly.

“I hope you remember my words when I taught you, ‘Victory/laurel(s) is a side-effect of preparation‘, they are like the passing clouds, it’s what you do when the sun is shining high that makes all the difference!”, Song finished in one breath.

“I will never forget that professor and I repeat that to my cadets every time we win a game or make a successful rescue”, smiled Harry and then it dawned upon him as to why Song was taking him through these questions.

As if Song overheard Harry’s thoughts, “I am sure you know where I am taking you with your thinking. As you have always done before, prepare because it takes you to a better situation and not out of fear. We were and we will be most vulnerable when we feel most secure and drop the guard – personally or as a colony. And like you said when you entered my chamber – do not rest until (you feel) secured from the inside!”

Harry rushed out as quickly as he entered and called out to his team. “Let us examine every stick, leaf, grain and the structure of this mound. We should exercise our pincers on all of these to see if we can cut through them as we used to do in our older colony. If we need to move around swiftly, the paths need to be clear within the colony and outside. Secure the food chambers and check for loose grains. Gather your ETCHs, to increase the patrol and reach out to the other sector cadets”.

“What! I was preparing a celebration”, shrieked Pritter as Herculant dropped the 10 cubes of sugar he was still hanging on to. Fallback broke the silence after what seemed a long momant, “I agree with Harry, we are not out of danger until we are familiar with the new environment. Dangers may not come from outside always, I will lead the patrol Harry”. “Thanks Fallback! Herc you lead the cadets and get them to familiarize the hill!”. Zappy who didn’t want to be left out of action jumped in place, “I will mark the perimeter and ensure we catch any signs of trouble from outside, if any”.

“Very good! good chance for some of you to put your knowledge of the AA on new colony settlement to good use. As the line goes, it is what you do when everything seems normal that will prepare you for the abnormal!“, concluded Harry as his cadets spread out to act on their tasks.

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12 replies

  1. My favourite series on Reflectikon – Harryants. !!
    I always read the comments on your posts Phani, its amazing to see how each individual deciphers different meaning of the same piece of writing and how it changes or adds to my view point of perceiving it.
    Indeed the drive to become better should come from within and not from the outside.
    But the fortune of having a guru like Harry has in Prof Song is also a boon.

    Reminds of a famous Kabir Dasa’s Doha which I read in my hindi class in school which goes like this:

    “Guru Govind dono khade kake lagu paay
    Balihari Guru aapki Govind diyo batay”

  2. I can reflect Prof Song having characteristics of Ninja Agile coach in grooming Harry . Good Narrative Phani 🙂

  3. Yet again thought provoking and inspirational story.. reminds me of “There is no harm in hoping for the best as long as you’re prepared for the worst!”

  4. Reminds me of the Aesop’s Fable, The Ant and The Grasshopper… and also of the expression, ‘make hay while the sun shines’! (and also ‘karmanyevadhikaraste’!) As it relates to daily work – there are a lot of opportunities to be better prepared for a daily sync-up meeting that barely lasts 15-20 minutes, but these opportunities are squandered… and Prof. Song has been trying to not spoon-feed for a few weeks now, yet, Harry doesn’t seem to understand! 🙂 Prof. Song may have to try a different trick before moving to the Socratic approach! 🙂 Good post, YM!

  5. Critical message, because hardly any company/team seems to be following this.

  6. Applaud! Worthwhile messages to contemplate on. Thank you for sharing such positive and encouraging stories.
    ”Work/live like there is no tomorrow”.

  7. What better way to elucidate the fundamental aspect of disaster readiness be it war, IT Ops, natural calamities, to the ever changing foreign policy and diplomatic relations in the age of Tweets and Posts bringing down governments and changing regimes.

    The sheer eloquence with which you put across your thoughts interwoven into powerful yet fairly simple stories is truly remarkable.

    As always, quoting Benjamin Franklin’s famous words- “By failing to prepare, you’re preparing to fail”

  8. Excellent blog Phani with a great message in the end…can relate very much to our life 😊

  9. Thought proviking article! ‘ Driven towards discomfort’ is the key message here! Only, this drive should come from within and not from outside 🙂

  10. Nice phani…Age old saying but how relevant it is even more…Prepare when you are normal and feel secure inside than driving on fear…👍👍

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