Train Wreck (Or, Are Birds Afraid of Heights?)

If you haven’t been able to tell from the title of this blog, my thoughts can get a little… muddled at times. Science has yet to invent the Perpetual Motion Machine, but the key to that device could be in my brain because it just runs and runs and runs all the time. No matter what the task at hand is, there’s a good chance another 5 to 50 thoughts are flitting through my brain unsupervised at the same time. Not so great when trying to fall asleep but an amazing boon when stuck in a traffic jam.

I should admit here that the things I think about, they’re not strategies to end world hunger, ways to detect tornadoes sooner, or philosophies about human evolution. Normally I’m thinking about fairly trivial things and they tend to click clack along at a pretty fast rate until they ultimately derail into completely irrelevant nonsense.

A perfect example from a week or so ago: as I was headed to a work meeting, I got stuck for a while on the bridge leaving the island I live on (because some people just don’t know how to handle rush hour traffic on a bridge and as I’ve mentioned before, too many people have moved to the Eastern Shore, making commuting across this bridge a mess) and as I sat there bored waiting for people to just move, I caught sight of the albatrosses, ospreys, and seagulls gliding overhead. I was both impressed with how high in the air some of these birds were (a few were mere dots in the sky) and curious as to why others were flying so low they were in danger of getting hit by cars. And some of them have indeed been hit by cars unfortunately, evidence of which is all too often seen on the bridge.

That led me to the question I spent the next good bit of time pondering: Are birds ever afraid of heights?

My train of thought first assumed that at some point in the history of all bird-dom, somewhere in the whole wide world there must surely be some bird that was born with an innate feeling of fear for gliding so high above the world. I mean, with the sheer number of birds in the world, surely, it’s almost statistically impossible for there not to be one bird that looks out over the lip of his nest and says I don’t know about this, right?

I feel sorry for that bird. His life must suck. And you know that none of the other birds have any sympathy for him whatsoever. It’s like the kid who’s afraid of roller coasters on the class trip to the amusement park. None of his friends are going to stay back with him, buy him a cotton candy, and sympathize with his phobia. No way are this bird’s so-called friends going to chirp out the problem on the ledge of the skyscraper.

How rough it must’ve been on that first maiden voyage out of the nest! His parents (ready to migrate to Florida to start their retirement) probably kicked him out of the nest without much ado when he told them he wasn’t quite ready to fly yet. Falling like a squawking rock as he desperately flapped his feeble wings most likely left an indelible impression on him that flying is not all it’s cracked up to be. He was probably scarred forever and now hops everywhere, always the last to show up to any good crumb parties or worm hunts. Poor, poor, pitiful bird. I was really upset and distraught by the whole thing.

Then, the slow ride across the bridge was over and, poof, that detailed, meandering thought of the poor little bird afraid of flying evaporated out of my head to be replaced by another thought. The next one to grab my attention was about the meeting I was headed to and the important points my organization needed to emphasize to the group we were meeting with, as well as the items I needed to discuss with my boss separately. Did I put pencils in my satchel!? I hope to goodness I brought pencils! No wait, I’m fine, I already have a pen in my purse. I’m cool, I’m cool.

And hey, I forgot there was a Dunkin’ Donuts on this road… that switched things up.  Thoughts of whether there will be tea or coffee available at this meeting made a sudden appearance. How I hope it’s coffee because it’s much more low maintenance than tea. Tea’s just a hassle. First you have to open the bag, then make sure you don’t break the string when you pull it out, then time how long it steeps, then find something to fish the bag out with, then where are you going to put the bag after it steeps and when you’re in a meeting that’s just a pain in the behind… and yada yada yada for the rest of the day, the week, the month, the year, the lifetime.

Thanks, brain. What would I do with you?