I witnessed this really fascinating example of the Definition of Insanity last weekend. You know, the Albert Einstein definition: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
It involved a one cup glass Pyrex measure, and a tiny black ant. I’ve been plagued with those little buggers lately. Sometimes just a few, once a gang in the sugar bowl (which now has packets of sugar) and once ganged up under the table on a scrap of something. Based on their assault on mostly my kitchen I am less than tolerant of them.
So there I was. My measuring cup sitting empty on the cutting board, and here comes Adam Ant sauntering along. So I set the cup on top of him.
Now’s where things got interesting. Although it appeared that the cup was flat there was a little concave space at the bottom of the Pyrex. Just big enough for him to wander around in, but solid so there was no way out.
He started out by boomeranging around the circle. From my point of view, I couldn’t see the edge he was running into, I don’t know if he could. He kept trying. Here, then there, then over there. It was pretty random. He didn’t try going all the way around to see if there was a hole or gap. He just kept trying to bounce out. And then he seemed to freak out a bit. Ran in a little tiny circle of his own. That seemed to stun him so he just stopped for a bit. It seemed like he was almost calm.
A moment later he started the whole routine again, only this time the wacko part came sooner and the calm part lasted a bit longer.
I wondered if he would give up in some way. Would he just rest until he either ran out of air or was rescued? Or would he keep doing what hadn’t been working?
The truth was neither. He actually offed himself. He just couldn’t believe it, I guess. He ran into the edge and squished himself in the tiny curve like he could push his way through. It didn’t work and he squished himself to death.
I know it’s a gruesome tale. And yet it’s a parable.
How often do we do this, over and over and over again? Run around with no real plan, just bouncing off the invisible walls? Freaking out? Resting a bit? And then doing it over again in the exact same way again?
Let’s all decide to be smarter than the tiny black ant…how’s that for an idea?