Birds and How to View Them

By Elisheva Maline

"There are many things that seem impossible only as long as one does not attempt them" (Autumn Leaves). Like flying, for instance, and wings. We can't fly; yet since the beginning of time, we've been hurling ourselves off cliffs trying to figure out how birds do it. And if asked, many people would describe how their heart strings get this tugging sensation when they watch birds. After all, what takes months of saving up for overseas tickets these light-footed creatures can get in one swift motion. If you long to be like Daedalus, Greek mythology's inventor of wings, you are not the only one. When we respond to the thought of flying with yearning, it's because we have gotten a glimpse of the divine. Our response is a good one.


Since planes have already been invented, let's take a literal approach to some of the mechanisms which help birds fly and see if we can't pull a message out for ourselves. Everything about G-d's creations have what to teach about living emotionally fulfilling lives. Birds have “lightweight, virtually hollow bones” as well as insulated and waterproof wings that help them stay their ground against buffeting winds and stormy rains: they hold in their body heat and can let the angry weather roll off their wings, so to speak. Usually, when others wrong us, we tend to hold onto the pain – much like drinking poison and expecting the wrongdoer to die. We are, instead, slowly beating ourselves down. Releasing past hurts always lightens the burden. Then, we have the emotional freedom to focus on personal growth. We can fly. 

Birds also possess an oxygen system which differs from every other creature on the planet; this helps them breathe normally during flight. Their lungs work like a double tide system, helping them inhale and exhale simultaneously. These “back doors,” their lungs, which allow the air to flow right through them as they soar through the air, keep them high in the sky for long periods of time. Since their chest cavities do not change shape while breathing, they can migrate for a thousand miles, and their chests won't heave from the effort (Wonders of Creation). We can understand why. They have “miles to go before they sleep” (Robert Frost). Envy over someone else's G-d given talents or status often gnaws at a person's insides. We too can lighten the weight in our chest cavities and bones. The Torah tells us that jealousy rots a person’s bones. Let it go. We can overthrow hurt, or we can cry out to Hashem (G-d) for assistance. Then, we will find ourselves making differences we didn’t know were possible. 

The next time you spot some birds in the distance, and you happen to feel a little sad, it means you want to get somewhere higher. And after all, in today’s day and age, when things are so much more accessible, there is room to reach for the stars.

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