— and then Rita proceeds to tell me the story about the ant on her shoulder in Thailand.
She was on a ferry going from one island to another, as people often do in Thailand, when all of a sudden she felt something moving on her shoulder. Her instinct, of course, was to slap the area. Eliminate whatever it is was there. But she didn’t. She decided to have a look first, and right there on her shoulder was an ant who could’ve been squashed to death just a second earlier.
This ant, it was walking all over her arm — up and down confidently with no knowledge of how close it came to death just a moment earlier. It walked like it knew exactly what it was doing — like it was in complete control — and for a second, Rita admired it. The very next second, she caught it and put it in a plastic bag.
Immediately, it started running around in circles. Completely hysterical. This was an entirely new environment, the plastic bag, and the ant didn’t know what the hell was going on. It was scared and clueless and other-words-that-cause-unease-in-the-hearts-of-men.
Half an hour later, the ferry docked, and Rita released the ant into the wild.
The moral of the story, Rita tells me, is that sometimes when you’re being saved — being led to a better place than you currently are — it’s going to feel all weird and scary and other-words-that-just-aren’t-very-fun-to-feel-or-think-about.
The secret, she says, is to hold on tight. Hang in there. You’re the ant.
Right now, sitting on my balcony feeling all-these-other-words-that-I’m-feeling, remembering this story is the one thing that gives me the strength to keep on going.