Are You an Ant or a Grasshopper?

by Brad Isaac on September 15, 2009

Powerful ant carrying a leaf

Today’s post was written by Dion Baker.  He is a writer for The Intangible Wealth and a respected song writer, poet, and visual artist.  And he also shares my love of ants.  – Brad

Today I went to the craft store with my wife to return some items we recently purchased. While she was being helped at the register, I decided to venture off into the store to see what else they had in stock. Not too far from the register, I saw several items on the clearance shelves. I perused through the shelves to see if there was anything of interest; not much. The mix of colorful ribbon and Spiderman bookmarks on sale didn’t quite hold my attention. I continued checking out the products to my right and guess what I found? A small pile of children’s books! As I walked toward the books there was a small book at the top titled, “The Ant and the Grasshopper”. Now, I’m excited…

So I picked up the book and started reading.

Here’s the synopsis of the story. There was the Grasshopper, the Ant, and other insects. It was the summertime and the Grasshopper was always being lazy, idle, and playful with his time. The weather was pleasant and he felt he should enjoy it, so he chose to be lazy and not work. But each time he saw another insect they weren’t being lazy, they were working. When he saw the Ant she was carrying food for the winter. He saw the Bee and he had yellow pollen all over his feet from toiling in flower nectar. He saw the Spider and she was threading her web. The Grasshopper was surprised that they were working while the weather was so beautiful. So he told them, “What are you doing? It’s summertime! Put down the work and have fun!” But they all said, “No, no, Grasshopper. We need to work and gather food for the winter! And you need to be gathering food for the winter too!” But the Grasshopper kept playing and never took heed to their advice.

And then the inevitable happened; winter came.

The snow piled and the wind blew and the Grasshopper was left hungry in the frigid cold. He was so cold and hungry that he asked the Ant for shelter and food. The Ant was appalled at the Grasshopper knowing that he spent his summer days in laziness and didn’t heed their advice to work. So the Ant told him:

“If you play all summer, you’ll go hungry all winter”

Summer represents the times that things are easier and winter represents when things are more difficult. Each of these is only a temporary season that comes and goes during our lives. Summer doesn’t last forever and winter is inevitable. When things are easier for us that is the best moment to prepare for the moments they will not be.  Therefore, the best time to ease our sickness (winter) is by preparing ourselves when we are more healthy (summer); the best time to prepare ourselves for difficult financial times (winter) is by saving money when we do have money (summer). The perfect time to gather what we need is during the time we don’t need it.

The Grasshopper didn’t bother gathering his food during the summer. Consequence: when the winter came, he had nothing to eat and was very cold. Why did he end up like that? He spent his days of vitality – when he had the most time and conditions were most comfortable – to indulge in laziness.  We should learn from him, but we should not be like him. Instead, we need to follow the model of the other insects. How so?

Invest our time in accumulating resources of value.

If we do that, the winters won’t feel as cold and hunger won’t trouble as much or at all. As the summer draws to a close, we are reminded that comfortableness is temporary and difficulties are inevitable. I challenge you to reflect upon your last 90 days and think about yourself in terms of your activity. Have you been the Grasshopper or the Ant?

- by Dion Baker from Intangible Wealth

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September 16, 2009 at 8:07 am

Great story. It is the topic of inspiration for those people, who are not want to work when they have time. I like it most. I read it 3 times and feel happy. Thanks for sharing this great story.

Mongo September 17, 2009 at 1:18 pm

Altough a decent metaphor is given I don’t believe it to be motivational, au contraire it is rather more thought provoking. I don’t believe life to be so black and white, grasshopper or ant, surely we ought to be both, with moderation we can enjoy all seasons, all the time. Here’s to the GrAnt!

September 18, 2009 at 3:04 pm

@ MadScan – Thanks for reading and glad to see that the topic inspired you :) The story certainly inspired me to reflect upon my general activity to evaluate the constructive use of my time.

@ Mongo – Thanks for the adding the hybrid “GrAnt”! lol I agree that it is not necessarilly black and white in determining whether we are the Grasshopper or the Ant. There are times when we need to be Grasshoppers or we need to be Ants. A key point is to discern for ourselves 1) what season is this for me? and, 2) is now the time to relax or to get busy? Like you said, the intention is to provoke-thought and evaluate our time/activity to determine if we are being inactive at the inappropriate time.
.-= Dion Baker´s last blog ..I’m Taking Over the World! =-.

September 29, 2009 at 5:04 pm

Great post and the metaphor reminds of what Some one said “am I a man or a mice”….Thanks for sharing

September 30, 2009 at 1:37 pm

I’m also a believer in the GrAnt hybrid. Sometimes, circumstances lend themselves to me being an ant, and other times (regrettably) a grasshopper. For instance, I believe most of the time I am the ant. I want my site to do well, I’m always trying to get more visitors, etc. But last week, I got slammed with a horrible head cold — and a couple of those days, I was more the grasshopper than I’d like to admit.

October 4, 2009 at 11:21 am

I know this story ever since I was a kid. :) I think a combination of being an ant and grasshopper (GrAnt – as someone upthread wittily puts it) is more realistic. There should be some sort of healthy balance to be able to function productively.
.-= Jen of Smart Goals´s last blog ..Sep 30, Links =-.

October 6, 2009 at 11:33 am

@ Fatima Da, Dara, Jen – Thank you all for sharing your thoughts on the post!

Definitely… balance is critical. Without balance, we’re like a one-wheeled cart. Instead of rolling forward, we end up dragging ourselves along or spinning in circles lol It’s great that we can see elements of ourselves in the Grasshopper and the Ant! With the multiplicity of responsibilities in life, how could we not? Passing through life’s seasons and its varied demands and timeframes required for certain activities, we find ourselves on both sides.

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