A Brief Philosophy of the Lone Ant

This morning I was watching hundreds of ants marching in line. Their organization and conformity reminded me of humans. Then there was this one ant that strayed off the path. He wondered around on his own in a kind of confused daze. It was obvious that he was tired of following the pack and wanted to go off on his own- but he was not quite sure where to go. For a moment my attention drifted to something that was going on outside my window. I stood up and accidentally stepped on the lone ant. As I looked down at the squished ant all I could think was “so this is how it goes.”

The Desk Chair

It is two in the morning and I am not yet ready to go to sleep. I am feeling some anxiety that has been floating around in my head all day like an alarm clock that will not stop going off. But I am not up because of my anxiety- I am up because of my desk chair. I bought my desk chair this afternoon and after an hour spent assembling it I have been sitting in it without getting up. My wife served me dinner in my desk chair, we watched a movie together (I was in my desk chair and she was on the couch) and I even shaved while sitting in my desk chair. I am not sure if my anxiety has anything to do with the purchase of the desk chair, but I do know that this is one of the few places that I feel comfortable and safe at the moment. I am not intending to get up and go to bed any time soon.

It must happen to every man at some point in his life- a desk chair that is. For some men desk chairs come earlier in life. There’s not all the stigmas and negative feelings about what desk chairs represent for these men. They instead see the desk chair as a kind of throne, a seat of upward mobility- a vehicle in which to attain status and success. I on the other hand had a different relationship to desk chairs. I saw them as vehicles for mediocrity- a symbol of the corporate beast that devours men’s souls. I ran from desk chairs in the same way someone would run from a rock that was falling from the sky. I studied, wrote and did my reading on couches, park benches, kitchen tables. Any place but in a desk chair. I believed that if I sat in a desk chair it would not be too long before I had a tie wrapped around my neck and a brief case by my side.

I realize that my feelings about desk chairs may have been slightly delusional and/or extreme- but I was on a mission. I wanted to be a great painter, an important writer, a poet and a beatnik. The world was breathing down my back to conform and I needed to do what I could to keep the world from making me into one of “them.” But as I have grown older I have felt the desk chair pulling me in more and more as the days have flashed by. I have felt my back become less limber from the years spent sitting in uncomfortable wood chairs with rigid backs. Ideology wears away just like paint and last week when I saw a particular desk chair for sale in a store- I tried to convince myself that I did not need it.

There are several people who I know who spend their days and nights in their desk chair. Through experiencing many different kinds of desk chairs they found the one that fits- and once they found the one that fit, the chair and the man were a match. I always thought that these particular men had traded in their youth filled dreams for a desk chair. After years and years of struggling to make their dreams into a tangible reality they reached a point in their mid thirties where they realized the path they were on was no longer worth the sacrifices they had to make. They became humble, quieted their egos and found a well-fitting desk chair. Some of these men went back to school for a graduate degree. Some found a professional job. All of these men spend at least eight hours a day in their desk chair.

I have been in my desk chair for well over ten hours so far. Like I said- I feel safe and comforted here. There is something meditative and calming about sitting in this desk chair. But then there is also my anxiety- an anxiety that seems to be resisting the desk chair. Maybe I am anxious because the desk chair represents the next stage of my life- a stage of adulthood and responsibility that never really entered my plans until about six months ago. Or maybe my anxiety is the inner young man in me throwing tantrums at the fact that I have purchased an executive desk chair. Whatever the case may be I am comfortable here. The September wind is blowing outside my open window and the neighborhood in which I live is sound asleep. My desk chair and I could sit here together all night like two lovers getting acquainted before they begin the next stage of their life inextricably linked together. It happens to the best of us.