The Peace Test

I failed the peace test. Here’s what went down….

Day 1

My peace was eradicated this morning by a zillion ants skittering across my kitchen counter tops, zig-zagging like little drunken men towards the sink. In the place where my peace used to be, a frustrated rage wells up. I am becoming what I have striven so hard not to be, especially in this holiday season– a bitc….I mean…a grinch.

All I feel is loathing and contempt for these tiny creatures invading my home. I had planned to bake fruitcake today and now there will be no baking. The ants have taken over my kitchen. If I lean too close to the counter, they scramble onto my clothing. I have picked several of them off my arms and even stripped my shirt off  (while standing in the kitchen) when I felt one crawling on my back.

My family is not telling me how crazy I am acting. They are strangely quiet as I ramble on about how terrible these ants are. And as I jab a flashlight into every cabinet and corner trying to find where they are coming from, I hear whispers in the next room. I begin to wonder if the ants are real. Am I having a mental breakdown?

Then my husband enters the kitchen and suggests we chill until the ‘bug guy’ comes. That’s the name we call the exterminator service. Since we’ve been using the service, we haven’t seen any insects in the house – until now. I can’t wait for the bug guy. The ants have to be gone NOW.  I hit my fist on the counter to emphasize the word NOW and squish a bunch of ants.

Day 2 

Yesterday is a blur. The ants that invaded my kitchen have dwindled to a few stragglers trying to find their way home. Everything is removed from my counters, but I still can’t bake or use the kitchen. The bug guy came and placed some clear liquid poison in some areas and told me to leave the ants alone. They would supposedly eat the poison and live long enough to take it back to their nest to feed to the queen, who will ingest it.

I pictured what their colony must look like, thousands of ants, dead and dying, crying out, “Why did we eat the forbidden fruit? What will happen to our children?” as they shriveled up and died. For a moment, I felt bad for them, (-okay, for a billionth of a second I felt something weird.) But that feeling turned to happiness when I realized that the bug guy’s plan was working.

Day 3

The ants are gone. I expected to see a few stragglers, but there is no movement on the counter. Everything is clear except for about twenty dead ants stuck in the poison. I figure those were the ones who couldn’t leave the liquid alone, the bingers of the ant world, feasting until the liquid began to harden around their little feet and they became stuck. My sanity is slowly returning.

Moral of the story:

Things are not always as you expect them to be. Losing your peace to anything -ants, traffic, mean people, your computer crashing, family arguments, a long ‘to do’ list, -is not worth it. And our peace doesn’t automatically come back when the situation changes to the way we want it to be.

We may feel happy for a time, but the deep down peace that we all want does not come from anything that happens around us. It comes from inside us. Real peace lives in a place that no exterior event, bad or good, can touch.

Once the ants were gone, it took a while for me to even want to be at peace again. Partially because I felt regret for acting so bad, and partially because it made my family uncomfortable and now they wonder if I will go berserk at the next little thing.

But I didn’t completely fail by losing my cool, it was just a minor setback. There are many good experiences and accomplishments in my past that I can think about to help me get my peace back. And I will continue to try to cultivate my peace -one that even the ants can’t disturb.

And there was an upside to the ant invasion. The fruitcake did not get baked. And my family is grateful for that.

Hope you all have a wonderful and peaceful Christmas and New Year!

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