The Thing I Like About …

A Bug’s Life:  the moment when Flik drops the leaf of food into the water.

The ants, in an effort to appease the horrid grasshoppers who extort them, have collected a summer’s worth of food and placed it on the leaf on the sacrificial rock.  Then the ants – except for Flik – hide underground and wait for the grasshoppers to arrive, to eat, and to leave.

Flik stays above-ground, attempting to communicate with the other ants who never seem to want to hear what he has to say.  He bumbles into the rock, and the leaf slides into the river.  He climbs onto the rock and grabs the leaf, but he can’t lift something so much bigger than himself, and he has to watch helplessly as the food floats away.

Why do I like that moment?  Because we’ve all had that moment.  We struggle daily to prevent things happening that we really aren’t “big” enough to prevent.  We make mistakes that we cannot – no matter how hard we try – go back in time and not have done.  We look on in horror, waving our arms and shaking our heads, as really big, important things that we really, really needed just … float away.

Perhaps you’re still asking:  Why would I like that moment?

Because A Bug’s Life answers that horrible-moment question:  What the heck do I do now?!  Flik faces the consequences – the grasshoppers are angry and cruel, the other ants are angry and devastated.  Flik becomes an outcast, and has to leave his home to avoid the ill will of the others.  He has no idea what to do.  But he does something.  He keeps walking until he finds people who can help him; he keeps going until he comes up with a plan to fix the damage he caused.  He keeps trying until things are fixed.  And in the end, everything is fixed.

In fact, in the end, it turns out that the situation he helped ruin should have been ruined, and that the ants are better off without it.  In the end, the effort to fix his mistake led to a better life for himself and for his fellow ants and for many others besides.  In the end, his willingness never to give up earns him the respect of those who earlier had shunned him.

We look on in horror at the things that are floating away – and of course we should grieve for our losses – but what do we do after that?  Do we sit, disconcerted and open-mouthed, crying on the sacrificial rock? – or do we pick ourselves up and go find the insect circus performers who can help us set things right?

To make things right, Flik had to let go of the leaf and move on … and that’s why I like that moment.

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