#11 winter solstice 2015

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I remember one day years ago taking an evening dog walk along a trail with a great view of the Bluer Ridge Mountains. Before and above me was a flock of starlings swooping and swerving. I had been studying t'ai chi at the time and on my walk I considered the meaning of the yin yang symbol. As I watched the birds shift and change, it became clear to me how the symbol is just that-- a two dimensional surrogate for a very complex three-dimensional idea of balance that is ever changing.

11 winter 2015.jpg"As I stand there, observing the cranes, my mind turns to more human matters. It has been nagging away at me all the time I've been here, the razor-wire fence that the government has erected more than a hundred miles south of here to stop Syrian refugees walking across the border from Serbia; the thought of crowds moving slowly northeast as the cranes moved southwest. Watching the flock has brought home to me how easy it is to react to the idea of masses of refugees with the same visceral apprehension with which we greet a cloud of moving starlings or tumbling geese, to view it as a singular entity, strange and uncontrol­lable and chaotic. But the crowds coming over the border are people just like us -- perhaps too much like us. We do not want to imagine what it would be like to have our familiar places reduced to ruin. In the face of fear, we are all starlings, a group, a flock made of a million souls seeking safety. I love the flock not just for its biological exuberance, but for the way it prompted me to pick similarity out of strangeness, for the way its chaos was transformed, on reflection, to individuals and small family groups wanting the simplest things: freedom from fear, food, a place to safely sleep."
--Helen Macdonald, The Human Flock, December 2, 2015, New York Times.

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