Sometimes people wonder strange things. I do occasionally- like why birds fledge at all. If you look at it from one perspective, they have all their basic needs catered for them: secure home, liberal supply of food, safety and unquestioned territory. I understand there are instinctual reasons to fledge like the natural diaspora of young to prevent interbreeding. But there is also a little more to it.
Some of you might know what it is like to want to fly, to experience the air in all its wonder. But I believe not very many may know what it is like to need to fly.
When I look up at the sky, it’s more then just a canvas of blue and white. I see where clouds are lifted by thermals, scattered by high altitude winds or flattened into layers by a steady atmosphere. But what I feel is far more important.
I feel the tenseness in my shoulders and legs, prepared to spring aloft at a moment’s notice. I feel my balance tip forwards in expectation of a rush skyward. I feel as if I could step onto the windowsill and spring aloft into the winds splaying the cirrus as easily as one would break into a jog.
The sky to me is more then air. It’s a path filled with currents as active as the oceans, complete with waves and ripples, undertows and rips. Only at the last moment do I remember my physical humanity and pull back from a dangerous leap into space and out a second story window.
The sky possesses a dangerous kind of allure. At times it’s enough to drive me to tears, others it drives me with its presence. The nearest thing to a religious attachment I have in life is my relationship with the sky; constantly reminding me in a Buddhist sense that nothing is permanent. But in keeping with that tradition’s mentality, I put myself up for a great lot of suffering through my attachment.
There is a reason I use the term ‘heart breaking’ to describe the condition of the sky: heartbreakingly blue like a pool I’m forever barred from, heartbreaking in its subtle turbulence.
For me, to be denied the ability to fly is like being told you can only move along the world at sea level- not being able to take steps higher or dive down lower. I’m restricted to moving about in two planes. As afraid as I am to make such a metaphor, in a sense I feel I’ve been crippled. This brings me back to my original question: why do birds fledge at all? The answer is simple:
There’s never an option not to.
For a bird with all physical capability to achieve flight, grounding is a fatalistic decision. It’s a form of stasis, and in a world ruled by such dynamic changes, it means death.
The human form may not be naturally flight capable but it possesses one thing to its credit: a soaring imagination. The ability to imagine, coupled with keen intellect and dexterity, means that if I try hard enough I can fly. Planes, hang gliders, wingsuits, skydiving. Some might consider it outrageous, attention seeking or even suicidal when I commit myself to doing these things. But I’m not. I’m not in it for the adrenalin kick or the high proximity passes. I’m doing it to get back to where I belong.