The Leaf Above Your Head

When the two Viking worshippers Ubbe and Floki finally reunite in a strange new land after being apart for years, Ubbe asks his old friend: “Are the gods here? Have you seen them?”

Having spent a lifetime trying to please Odin and co. without much result, Floki can only scoff: “Don’t bother me with that. What business is that of mine? I am an ant, toiling on the forest floor. I see only the leaf above my head. That leaf brings me some relief from the sun.”

Like Floki once used to, Ubbe thirsts for knowledge. But after seeing knowledge be of little use and even less permanence time and again, Floki reminds him of the only fact that matters: the present. “You don’t need to know anything,” he tells him. “It’s not important. Let the past go.”

How much time do we spend wondering: “What if I had done this differently? What motive lies behind that person’s actions? Why is what used to work no longer working?” In reality, none of it matters.

We are ants, toiling on the forest floor. When there’s a leaf above our heads, we walk into its shadow, and we enjoy some relief from the sun. And when there isn’t? Then we keep toiling away. Sooner or later, a new leaf will appear.

When you catch yourself spending too much time in your head, ask: “Do I really need to know?” Chances are, the answer is “No.” You just need to return to the present, pick up the next blade of grass, and be on your way.