The Layered Sky Overlooking My Ant Hill

–Even a modest amount of love makes you feel less small. Human connection brings purpose to the immenseness of the world.

I am a speck of fleshy mundaneness speeding down a familiar highway, encased in an orange conveyance manufactured out of metal, plastic, and rubber. This is my minuscule life.

My eyes flow through each layer of the sky as my car travels slightly over the speed limit. An act of tempered rebellion not egregious enough to be a costly addition to the list of misjudgments perpetrated with a certain cadence of regularity over the years.

I am a small, quiet, mass of humanity sitting dutifully behind the steering wheel. Stuck in the repetitive loop of adulthood, necessity perched on one shoulder, desire resting on the other.

The Sky Is Huge Today

The gradient backdrop behind the clouds begins as a deep cerulean blue, awake and hopeful. Following the curvature of the sky down to the earth’s horizon, the atmosphere degrades into a murky grayness, weary and forlorn.

The fat, puffy clouds nearest to me are a sunny white on top and shaded in dark gray on the bottom. Each side of the cloud offers a version of both hope and despair. Perspective is dependent on the earth’s season and humanity’s state of mind. Beyond the sparse independent puffs, the sky is layered with a dense gathering of clouds. One layer on top of another, and another, forming a striated cross-section of the sky’s geography.

Scanning further into the depth of the sky, the clouds become a hazy, undefinable mass of bluish-gray, indistinguishable from the sky itself as it touches the earth. The purity of the heavens becomes tainted as it merges with the surface of our world.

I have never felt smaller.

Looking Down on the Ants

Mesmerized by the vastness of the universe, I change the perspective of my thoughts. Looking down from the heavens, our vehicles driving down the highway must look like ants busying ourselves with work until we can return to our hill.

She thinks I travel this familiar highway to her home every week out of obligation for her having birthed me. Obligation is only a tiny sliver of the pie chart depicting why I do what I do. She did give me life, but she also gives me purpose. I don’t just love my Mom, I like her, too. She is my friend as much as she is family.

I feel a little less small when I am with her.

She’s my strongest connection to the one-dimensional, perfectly proportionate family tree printed on the pages of our history book. The tree is quite large on paper, full and lush.

The real three-dimensional, flesh, and blood tree rooted in the earth’s ground is misshaped. The bigger branches are full of twigs and leaves constantly rustling with activity, oblivious to other limbs.

My branch is sturdy but slight.

Leafy accomplishments are a modest adornment to my branch. By choice, there are no offshoots to carry my branch into the future. Most of my family is ambivalent to my tiny contribution to the tree. My branch is content by itself as the other limbs grow higher, reaching further into the sky.

The universe reminds me of my diminutive place in the grand scale of life.

At the End of the Day

The sky looks different as I re-enter the stream of ants and drive back to my hill. Time continues to change all that it touches.

Secluded in the innermost layer of my existence, the door to my home opens at the end of the day and he enters my world. Standing in front of me, I see his smile peeking out from under a graying mustache. His presence strengthens my will and gives my life purpose. He doesn’t realize it, but he adds a layer of hope to the depth of my life. My world expands as I smile back at him.

I feel a little less small when he is standing beside me.


Tammy Hader
Tammy Hader
Tammy Hader has no writer’s pedigree. With a BBA in accounting from Wichita State University, numbers are her history. The CPA exam was passed, because that’s what accountants are supposed to do, and thirty years later her accounting life ended with the desire to journey down a different career path. The compass turned toward words to create a new legacy beyond spreadsheets. Her nostalgic writing reflects on the past to explain the present and shine into the future the light of lessons learned. Growing up in a small Midwestern town, influenced by relationships, choices, consequences, and situations, her life is not unique. In her stories, you will recognize reflections of your own past, understand how you arrived at today’s version of you and gaze with her across the bridge into the future.

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  1. Tammy – Another moving story. I couldn’t help but think what your Mom and Husband would write about you. Knowing you even as little as I do, I would have to think it would parallel what you wrote about them.

    I feel a little less small when I am with her.
    I feel a little less small when he is standing beside me.

    • That’s sweet to say. My Mom would definitely write nice things about me. My husband, well … he has outstanding control of his emotions. He would make a great poker player except for the fact that he doesn’t like to risk his hard earned money. He does write very nice, clever messages in birthday and anniversary cards though.