Is it a murmuration, a chattering, or both?

February 6, 2017

 

You can learn a lot about humans by watching what goes on outside of the human realm. I was going to say "by watching nature," but I didn't like that because it separates us from nature and that's nonsense, of course. Although I think we make that mistake over and over, even when we think we really get it. Still, somehow we think of nature as something Out There -- separate from ourself In Here.

 

Last week, my friend posted a photo of hundreds of starlings in the trees behind her house. I've seen this in my own back yard before, and I know that starlings flying in unison is called a murmuration of starlings. It is a mesmerizing thing to see. (Check it out at the end of this amazing article!) Alternatively -- and I am having a hard time deciding which one I like better -- the collective noun of all of those birds perched in the trees like my friend saw them is called a chattering. A murmuration is kind, and a chattering is impressive. Either way, with that many inputs, what you've got is more like a cacophony! 

 

I feel like that's what's going on in our country right now. Hundreds upon thousands upon millions of squawking voices, all rising at once making such a noise that not one makes any more sense than another. And yet, they are all attracted to each other, going this way and that way with no one really knowing who is in charge or who is leading the way. There's another cool thing called ferromagnetism where magnetic fluid follows the magnetic field and lines up in perfect formation. Very very cool, I think. 

 

So, are we humans with our clicks, views and follows just following our "nature"? Or do we have the will to separate ourselves from the fields that influence us? Can we step aside from the cacophony and act apart from our flock? Some of this stuff is really cool, and real. But so is knowing that while there will always be outside forces acting upon us, we also always can choose quiet contemplation, observation and listening in silence. 

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