The Red Ant

Walking downtown I pass by the Namyangju Fire Station and a city park containing a rubberized small track, a basketball court, and a bat mitten court. On the Southside of the park the land rises with that side of the park nestled in a ridge made partly by work crews leveling the ground for the purpose of constructing the various courts and one shelter.  After chiseling out the park on the Southside, the remaining ridge is shored up by huge boulders fitted together and sloped expertly to the ground by workers with a historical knowledge passed down from their forefathers gifted in doing that sort of craft.  Flowering bushes are planted in the cracks of the boulder wall to add beauty for the park visitors to enjoy.  The boulder wall also provides support from the elements by preventing erosion.  The top of the ridge contains a board walkway that runs parallel to the park and provides a picturesque view of the entire park below.  To enter or exit the ridge promenade a person must ascend or descend a rough stone staircase.  With South Korea covered by 70% of uplands & mountains, the Koreans have become masters in adapting the land to their benefit.

I have never seen the the track crowded, and I walk that way regularly on my way to my health club to exercise.  The rubberized court is used by young roller skaters shod with the latest inline skates; an occasional senior citizen is present walking around the marked circular track for exercise; and an occasional small child can be seen riding her first bicycle wobbly around the track as the mother watches her progress.  At the basketball court school boys choose up sides and compete against one another as they display and hone their dribbling and shooting skills.  For obvious known reason the players are more interested in shooting and dribbling than playing defense.

One day while watching one of the players get hot and make several baskets, I interrupted the game and pleaded with the defensive players to guard the hot player, or at a minimum put a hand up as a pretense in defending the basket.  In an effort to explain the complete lack of defense, I concluded that the middle-school players felt a sense of being involved in the game only while attempting to score or in dribbling.  Their complete lack of understanding the art of defense displayed itself by all players standing around except one.  Only the player with the ball was defended, and mostly while dribbling.  Wow, was I frustrated or what?

My desire to coach the young players on the importance of defense was not held back by my lack of speaking Korean.  I jumped up and got their attention by stepping onto the court and displaying the defensive stance necessary for defending the basket; then I raised my hand in an attempt to demonstrate how to block a shot.  Next, I attempted to show them how to block out for rebounding.  They like to jump and rebound, but most of the players never block out.  Nothing changed after my attempt to coach the young fellows.  Like most young and inexperienced players, scoring baskets and dribbling the ball is the most fun.  It’s all about control.

The other day after watching the youngsters play basketball, I walked across the court with my head down thinking of something, whatever it was.  While looking down I spied a red ant hauling a much larger, dead winged insect.  Both wings of the insect were in good shape and exposed to the elements.  As I watched, a huff of wind came out of nowhere and caught the wings of the dead insect and sailed the ant at a high rate of speed about 20 or so feet across the bat mitten court, presently unoccupied.  I got a big kick out of the spectacle thinking about the ant sailing across the court.  I imagined the ant trying to figure out what happened and telling the other ants about his adventure of sailing at breakneck speed over the court and how exciting it was.  I wondered, did the ant end up closer to his destination or farther away?  If the ant really wanted to be a sailor, he would have to learn how to tack against the wind, or wait until the wind was blowing in the right direction for sailing to be beneficial to him & the community.  Why not write a book for children about the ant who learned to sail?  With sailing the ant could save a lot of time and increase the food supply of the ant community.  Instead of working so hard, the ants might have some free time to relax and enjoy life.  I wonder if free time would destroy the community work ethic?  garland dale

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