By Charles Towne 

It has been several years since I was camping in the Ocala National Forest one dark night and pitched my tent on top of a fire ant’s nest.

By any chance have you ever noticed that fire ants are such sweet and endearing little creatures? Oh yes, and did I mention the fact that they can motivate one’s person to perform quite humorously?   The following performance illustrates the fire ants entertainment factor quite well. The fire ants, about a zillion of them, attacked my person with great joy and incredible zeal.

I must say that it was with great motivation and enthusiasm that I fought my way out of my sleeping bag to do a wild dance, slapping at myself in the light of the campfire to get rid of the wee beasties.

I am sure that if anybody had seen me that night they would have concluded that there was a madman on the loose, and at that point, they were quite right! I am also quite sure it was somewhat entertaining, at least from a spectator’s point of view, to behold a naked dude dancing and cavorting in the light of a campfire way back in the woods.

Joe and Brenda, newlyweds, were spending their honeymoon hiking a portion of the Appalachian Trail when night overtook them. Clearing a small area of rocks and debris, the amorous couple made camp and retired.

During the night they awoke to realize there was something wiggling and squirming under the floor of the tent.  They also had pitched their tent on a nest, but not a nest of fire ants.  Oh no, it was a nest of newly hatched copperhead snakes. It was again with great motivation and enthusiasm that the two lovebirds abandoned their tent to spend a sleepless night cuddling next to a campfire.

Motivation and enthusiasm are good, they can drive you and give you the inspiration to do what you could never do without them.

We have all met people that seemed to somehow have the edge.  They tackle life with an alacrity and joy that makes them a pleasure to be around.  They somehow have within them an unquenchable Holy fire that spreads to others like a conflagration of love igniting within them an insatiable need to bless all.

Being forced to run away from a raging, hungry sabre-toothed brandlesnoot might possibly motivate you, as will a zillion stinging fire ants or a nest of poisonous snakes, but wouldn’t it be better to live your life in such a way that, without threat or possible danger you not only possess motivation and enthusiasm but you inspire it in others as well?

May the Son warm your heart,
Light your day,
Heal your pain,
And bring you great joy.


Dear Papa God, I thank you for gifting me with enthusiasm and love for life as well as a motivation to bless and help others.  I want to please you oh Holy Father.  Help me to be what you want me to be.  Lord, help me to be a joy to others.  Help me to inspire and give hope to all of your children, young and old, that I meet.  I thank you Father, and I love you, In Jesus’ wonderful and Holy name I ask it, Amen.


Charles Towne is first and foremost a Christian. An octogenarian, author, journalist, wildlife photographer, naturalist, caregiver, and survivor, his life has been and continues to be, a never-ending adventure filled with possibilities never imagined. He has adopted the philosophy that to Live fully, laugh uproariously, love passionately, and learn like there is no tomorrow, is a formula for a long and joy-filled life.


  1. Some may feel that “the FIRE” is a curse. Those fire ants or other forms of ooglie wooglie creatures drawn to the light BITE with venom. The question is how to find balance with SELF, GOD, and still help others as well???
    Love this thought provoking article, Charles. I was in the Ocala National Forest last evening so it hits home! Did you write this for me?…lol.

  2. Dear NH, excellent point! Usually those things that are uncomfortable are there to teach us. Those ooglie wooglie’s that you speak of, whatever form they may come in, be it fire ants, sickness, or mean people, present opportunities for improvement. Some we learn to avoid, some we learn to confront, but in all of them there are lessons to be learned. It is for us to accept or reject those lessons. My life has been full of what you call, “ooglie wooglies.” I wish I could have avoided the ooglie wooglie of Alzheimer’s disease that has afflicted my Darling wife these last years, but, this frustrating disease has inspired me to write a book for caregivers, therefore one might say that good, beauty, and blessings have come from bad, ugly, and curses? NH, you have inspired thought. Thanks so much my friend, Chaz

  3. Always good to have motivation, although I would rather that motivation be more subtle. I suppose however that there’s no motivation more effective than fire ant and copperheads! Great column Chuck, God bless.

  4. Well Don, the way it usually works is this: SUBTLE MOTIVATION DOESN’T WORK VERY GOOD! Most people in the world today remind me of the old farmer and his mule. That darned mule was so stubborn the only way the farmer could get the animal to move was to motivate him by smacking him between the ears with a fence post. People are just like that, they learn from the painful, the uncomfortable, or by being deprived of something the desire. Thanks for the comment pal, Chaz

  5. Well welcome back Mama Mia! What can I say other than I am sure the ants just love you! The next thing you are going to tell us is that you don’t like wasps and hornets either! How strange is that? I hope you are well and happy my dear. Blessings to you and yours, Chaz

  6. EJ, usually we try to avoid the scenario that you describe to the best of our ability, but, sometimes the negative is inevitable, a part of life. Mama Mia declares above that she flat out “hates ants,” but sometimes there are certainties that are sum and parcel of our world, as well as our lives, therefore they are unavoidable. When the unavoidable happens what do we do? Do we run and hide? Or do we learn from it. The Bible tells us not to run away, but to confront, and learn, “Go to the ant…, consider her ways and be wise…” When Samson found the swarm of bees in a dried out lion’s carcass he took the honey, and ate, disregarding a few stings from the angry bees. He figured the sweet honey was well worth the pain. Thanks lots for the comment, Chaz

  7. I wonder? Could it be that the words we speak are the most painful, most biting and cruel things we will ever encounter? Hate and discord spread like a gigantic nest of venomous ants or poisonous vipers throughout our society. Let it be said of us that we spread love and hope, never dissension and hate. One can walk away from fire ants and venomous snakes, but lies and cruel words follow us wherever we go. Our bible, the word of our God tells us, “Words wisely spoken are like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” Dear God, please let the words of our mouths and the meditations of the hearts of the American people be acceptable to you… Amen. Let it begin with me is my prayer. Yeah, I wonder? Chaz

  8. Having enjoyed camping quite a bit with my family, I can relate to your humorous story! I find it amazing how God uses the smallest things to teach us the most profound things. He shows us lessons, even in the life of an ant. He thought that was important enough to point it out to us in His word. Yes, serpents are His creatures too, but we see a very different lesson…a lesson in danger….a lesson to stay close to Him for protection.
    He has “programmed” all living things to be and live a certain way. But humans have been given a choice, a say in what they do, in how they live. God wants us to choose Him, to choose His ways. He wants only the best for us and gives us lessons and examples along the way to help us live life to the fullest. It is our responsibility to be sensitive and in-tune with Him. Thanks Chuck!
    You make me want to spend more time outside, waiting to see what else God will show me!! God bless you!

  9. Charles, you paint such vivid pictures with your words. It is a joy to read and learn from your experiences and stories. I appreciate the call for a more “inwardly inspired” motivation and enthusiasm – to love and to serve. This is something I would like to have more of inside of me! Thanks for being such a good example.

  10. Dear CSG, My life as a naturalist and outdoorsman has blessed me with certain insights, perhaps a way of looking at things, (even if those ways do at times seem a little cuckoo to some people) that force me to view life, (all life) in the light and from the viewpoint of something almost akin to the divine. Every time I venture into the wilderness it is almost as if I were recreated, my mind refreshed, and my soul bathed in the sunshine of Papa God’s love. This is what I wish upon each one of my readers. Thank you so very much CSG. Chaz

  11. My dear Kristin, I am blessed and invigorated when I see people such as yourself, “get it!” I believe that when one of God’s own yearns for the sublime which can only be bestowed by God himself, he or she will receive that which they desire. This then is what I pray for in my own life, that God may use me to bless others, and that they may know Him as their one true friend. Blessings on you and yours, Chaz

  12. I’m with Mama Mia on hating fire ants. For many years I carried an anaphylactic shock kit with me after having my throat close up thanks to those nasty creatures. Having a purpose in live is all that I need these days to stay motivated. The feeling after a good workout, a heartfelt thank you or just the self satisfaction of reaching out to help others is powerful motivation. I thank God every day for my health to allow me to stay motivated. You have a way with words to make your stories jump off the page…

  13. Thanks so very much for the vote of confidence Mike! If I have a way with words give God all the glory because it is a gift that He has given me and I hope to use it to His glory. I have gone into anaphylactic shock one time in my life after having been bitten by a diamondback rattlesnake. It wasn’t the snake’s venom that almost did me in but the horse serum based antivenom they injected into my system at the hospital after my telling them that I was allergic to the stuff. Mike, you are so right! I believe wholeheartedly that we were placed here by Papa God to serve, not be served. What a joy comes to us when we reach out a helping hand in love! Thanks so much for the comment my friend, Chaz

    P.S. Just remember, the fire ant is only doing what he has to do to protect his community! But then, that doesn’t mean we have to like it! C.

  14. I wonder, when folks say they hate something do they really HATE what it is they say they hate. I mean, hate is such a strong word. I had a woman tell me one time that she hates dogs because they carry fleas. That is sorta like me saying I hate people because they carry the flu. Certainly I can hate what some people do, but to hate all people would be a tad excessive. God tells us in His word that He hates sin… but then He turns around and, lucky for us, He says that He loves the sinner! We are also told that Christ died for us while we were yet sinners. I think that the best evidence of good sense is to sometimes avoid what we otherwise might waste energy on by hating that thing. Sorta like fire ants. Once bit you avoid the little buggers, that is if you have half the good sense God gave a goofy gopher. Chaz

  15. You’ve just reminded me to add “motivation” and “enthusiasm” to my grocery list!

    In all seriousness, I love this: “…wouldn’t it be better to live your life in such a way that, without threat or possible danger you not only possess motivation and enthusiasm but you inspire it in others as well?”

    Very well put.

  16. Gymrat, you truly MOTIVATE me! One thing I have learned is that ENTHUSIASM is available to us all. Some people are ENTHUSIASTIC about life. These people are not all that common, but, if we want it, “ENTHUSIASM” can become a very important part of our lives. It is sort of like our love for our spouse, our children, or say, our Lord, Jesus Christ. If that love is genuine, and part of us, we are going to become animated when we talk about it, and we are going to want to talk about it because we love it! Yeah, and if we love it we can’t stop talking about it! I am going to have to write an article on ENTHUSIASM soon. See what you did you rascal! Thanks lots, Chaz

  17. Nature has a way of teaching us “life” lessons! As a small boy I wanted a banana, growing next to an old garage. What I didn’t see were the Yellow Jackets, which didn’t want to be disturbed. Lesson painfully learned! Over the years I’ve stepped on a Coral snake, bare footed, been attacked by Bumble bees (in my flower bed), AND had my share of Fire Ant bites! As we go through life, it is wise to pay attention to where we are and what we are doing! And, remember the lessons so painfully learned!

  18. Don, very well put! It seems that bee stings and biting words are about on an even par and both best to be remembered and avoided so as not to be repeated. I was living in Forest City at the time and was standing in my front yard visiting with a friend. I was barefooted. I felt something squirming and wiggling under my left foot, looked down and discovered that I was standing on a coral snake about eighteen inches in length. Patient creatures them coral snakes. It is surprising how fast one can move in times like that. Thanks for the comment pal, Chaz

  19. “All the creatures great and small…the Lord God made them all”!
    I reread the story again and as usual, found myself thinking thoughts even I found strange! Fire ants are put here , why? Do we thank God for providing such an effective motovating force? I think the number of ants are exactly proportional to the degree of motovation we require! In some of us, inertia is very great! But in the end, by being so motovated, we all do get moving again!


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