Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More

Why Birds Fly

Casa Nuestra, St Helena, California, USA

March 14, 2010

This essay, Why Birds Fly, is the fifth in the dectet Menagerie: It was written at the same time as

Photography by Vadim Onishchenko
Rüppell's Vulture - Gyps Ruepelli
Aside from cassowaries, emus, kakapos, kiwis, nandus, ostriches, penguins, rheas, and a few others (most if not all of which you've never even seen around your local neighborhood, right?), the quintessential characteristic of birds is they fly.

Why? Why do birds fly? Why are birds along with bats and insects one of the only three life forms which fly?

When you come to think about it, when you inquire deeper into it, it's not essential birds fly in order to move. Even without flying, birds can already walk, run, swim, crawl, hop, slide, glide, and slither. So why, in addition to having already perfectly good mechanisms for getting themselves from place to place, do birds fly?

It's a question which has always fascinated me. I've pondered it many times, coming up with different scenarios on various occasions to account for this anomaly. I've posed lots of reasons why birds fly - many, many reasons in fact. And what I've noticed is the list of reasons you can come up with why birds fly is seemingly endless if you're creative enough. Yet in spite of how many perfectly valid  reasons why birds fly I can come up with, none of them has grabbed me as the  definitive reason why birds fly. No "Eureka!"  moment for me here yet. No "A-Ha!"  insight for me here yet. And so I stayed in the inquiry: why do birds fly? Why?

Well ... it's taken me a while but I finally figured it out!  I know now why birds fly and it's totally awesome!  I'm inspired by it enough to want to climb to the top of a craggy cliff high above a blustery beach and shout it out in the face of the ocean wind.

Birds don't fly because they want to go south in winter. They don't fly because they they're looking for a pool to drink from. Neither do they fly because they're trying to find a place to make a nest. It's not because they're hungry and searching for food, and nor is it because they're looking for a mate. Neither is it to escape inclement weather and predators. It's not because their lungs are better suited to rarefied air and so they have to elevate themselves to heights where the air is thinner. Nor do birds fly because they can spot then attack prey like snakes, worms, mice, and beetles better from the air.

All these reasons were valid, plausible, understandable, likely, feasible, good, and true and still are. But that was before  the "Eureka!" moment. That was before the "A-Ha!" insight. That was before Werner Erhard came into my life.


It's none of the above. Here's what it is: birds fly because birds fly.

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