“Do not go in fear, Grasshopper.” — Kung Fu
You’ve heard of Aseop, right? Greek dude? Lived around 600 BC? Wrote fables, like the one about the Grasshopper and the Ant?
The Ant spends the summer trundling food to his storehouse, using an adorable little wheel-barrow in this illustration. Meanwhile, the Grasshopper sits in the sun and sings.
Autumn comes, followed as usual by winter. The Grasshopper, now cold and hungry, knocks on the door of the Ant, who tells him to bugger off because there’s no room at the inn.
Does the Ant dislike grasshoppers as a species? If they are a species, and not one of those other categories I learned about in high-school biology.
No, I think the Ant is an uber-capitalist, like the Fox News commentators who’ve been venting about the Occupy Wall Street protests. “They’re just lazy! They’re only asking for rich people’s money because they don’t want to work!”
Don’t want to work at what jobs, Foxholes?
In which I out myself as an ant
Anyway, given the choice implied by the fable, any sensible person would choose to be a singing Grasshopper, but one with a backing group and a capable agent. No one in his/her right mind wants to be an Ant, with or without a wheelbarrow. I mean, Auden wrote “all the summer through the water saunter,” not “all the summer to the storehouse trundle.”
And yet, much as I want to be a Grasshopper, if only to spite the Foxholes, a recent blog post by my friend Molly Campbell has got me worried. Although I don’t believe that Molly is as laissez-faire as she makes out, I’ll grant that she’s taking an easy-care approach to retirement. I’m also sadly aware that if I ever get to retire, I’ll be busier than ever.
Even now, I have several friends who work as many hours as I do but spend their free time draped in cats and watching television. When I ask them what’s new, they say things like, “Not much. Pixie coughed up a furball. So what’s up with you?”
“Well, I wrote a new blog post and a bunch of tweets and a synopsis of my novel. I’ve found an palazzo in Venice for next year and now I’m looking up flights for four people from three different airports in England, but I need to leave soon to buy linoleum because I’m redoing the front bathroom. Also … ”
I suspect that while I’m on the phone, my friends go right on watching television. Wouldn’t you?
Is there any hope?
The desks of non-busy people probably look like ads for gracious living. Hello! Some of these people might not even have desks! Whereas my desk is covered with bills, photos that need scanning, receipts that I haven’t logged in Quicken yet, books I might want to quote from, and Post-It notes reminding me to do things.
Lying on top of these things, sound asleep, is the cat.
All cats are Grasshoppers.
Am I doomed to trundle? Can a life-long Ant turn into a Grasshopper? Are there lessons I can take; a school I can go to; some wise elder, like Master Po in the old Kung Fu TV series, from whom I can learn the ways of grass and hopping?
Okay, the question’s out there. While I wait to hear from you, I’ll just illustrate this post, shift the cat, pay the bills, and make a poster for tomorrow’s protest.
“To be yourself, Grasshopper, feel the heartbeats of others, above your own.” – from Kung Fu, with thanks to Steve Geller.