Saturday, October 4, 2008

Migration and Mortality

At this time of year, we see the patterns of birds flying south for the winter. If you live in the north, you mostly see times of year where there is an absence of birds and a time of year when there is an abundance of birds. If you live in the south, there are always many kinds of birds, and sometimes even more varieties.

The birds, of course, do this for their own survival, to get to the warmer climates and more abundant food sources. Over time, they have developed their own internal navigation systems which allow them to fly from one end of the continent to another in a pattern that flows through the ages, based on instinct.

They know, of course, that they must change locations each season, or die. And of course, every year some will experience their final journey. They may make it to one end of the trail or other and not have the strength for the return trip. Who knows what happens along the way. We too know that we must change or die, although we do not fly back and forth every season. Nor do we always move in the same north-south patterns.

What we do sense is that there are natural times for our arrivals and departures. We know that we have a certain number of years for our journey on Earth, although we do not know exactly how long. During this apprenticeship, we experience many things, the full spectrum of what it means to be human, and sense when it is time to move on from certain phases of our life. We may linger in one phase or mindset related to that phase simply because we do not want to let go of that one. But at some point, we move and change. At some point, we sense that we need to acclimate to the change of seasons.

All of this is not to say that we only have a healthy, vibrant active life when we are younger and when we are older, all we can do is sit around and wait for death. No, today's science has made it possible for us to live much longer, and enjoy an active life to a time beyond that known by our parents and grandparents.

As we are prompted to review our progress and achievements so far, such promptings sometimes come unexpectedly with the arrival of a magazine or an email or a news story about the passing of someone who represents a landmark in our life journey.

Then we look at the time ahead and reflect on whether it is time to migrate to another chapter in our life, we choose whether to pursue our dreams further or whether we decide that these were important to us at another time, but no longer matter. As we consider migration, we also ponder what actions are most important for us to take next.

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