“Maybe the migration patterns of birds should be followed, and human beings should imitate the art of flight.”
“Birds in Flight”
Fiction. Based on a True Sky Full of Birds.
This journal entry is inspired by true events. Some of the characters, names, businesses, incidents, and certain locations and events have been fictionalized for dramatic purposes. Any similarity to the name, character, or history of any person is entirely coincidental and unintentional.
Trigger Warning: our program often motivates people to discuss their trauma. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, please, take a step back to address emotional flashbacks and trauma before continuing to push yourself. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 or the National Suicide Hotline at (1-800) 273-8255.
From a young age, my favorite thing in the world was to watch birds in flight. Whenever we would be driving down the road, I would peer out the window, craning my neck towards the sky. When we got home, I would stand or sit on the driveway during sunset and watch the birds flying over the roof, from one side of the house to the other. Of course, birds fly in the sky all the time, but in my childhood hometown, birds migrated every evening at sunset. My favorite pastime consisted of watching their dark silhouettes flap across the pink and orange sky.
Most birds migrate yearly. They fly in flocks. They stay together for safety so they do not get lost. They fly north in the spring—for warmth, for food, and to breed. In the winter, they fly south again. Due to this, birds do not really have a home. Their lives are constantly fluctuating between different zones and hemispheres. They rest from flight to build their nests and lay eggs, only to take off again.
Bird migration patterns are often depicted in books and movies. Flying birds with outstretched wings find themselves in a V-shaped pattern, as they glide through the sky. At that point, a leader establishes the trajectory of the flock. Migration patterns are not only symmetrically pleasing to the eye, but usefully implemented in government tactics. In fact, military planes will fly in what is called an “echelon formation” which is modeled after the same flight pattern as most birds. The echelon formation in the military essentially follows a slanted—or diagonal—line. This formation is vitally important because it allows each person to individually communicate and still corporately maneuver.
Birds are not the only migrating creatures. In the United States, the average person will move 11.7 times in their lifetime. Although this is not an annual north-to-south movement, it is still a consistent movement. There are many reasons people move around: to find work, because of work, to attend school, to find cheaper housing, or to adopt a different lifestyle. Individuals who move alone are more likely to settle into a new location and establish connections. Families have a harder time adjusting to moves due to the higher number of people involved. Children are affected the most by moving, and those who move around a lot during early development find it harder to establish long-term relationships. Of course, each situation, family, and child is different. It sometimes seems that human beings differ from birds in that annual or consistent relocation proves problematic. Yet human beings continue to migrate.
I have been fortunate enough to travel a lot, flying through the air in a giant, metal bird on many occasions. I have seen different states and countries from an elevated perspective, eager to take in as much as my eyes could see. While I have visited many places, I have personally only moved four times. Each place I have permanently lived has been within 30 minutes of the previous home. While my personal migration has not taken me across vast distances, I think the adventure of finding one’s place in the world comes with finding and falling in love with new places. So perhaps consistent relocation truly is a wonderful way of life—traveling new places, seeing new people, becoming more immersed in different lifestyles and cultures. Maybe the migration patterns of birds should be followed, and human beings should imitate the art of flight.
The daily migration pattern of the birds in my childhood hometown was a well-known phenomenon. The birds would gather from all over town at sunset and fly to my elementary school, where they would settle into the trees for the night. Sometimes I would stay late at school with my grandmother, who was the sixth grade teacher, as she graded papers. As we walked from the building to her car during sunset, the sky above us would be filled with the sound of flapping wings. The image of the silhouettes of hundreds of birds in flight upon the canvass of the golden sky will forever be ingrained in my memory.