When I walked to my car to go to work this morning, I heard the somewhat unsettling sound of a mockingbird giving a call in what sounded like a car alarm. Mockingbirds, being birds whose name is based on their annoying tendency to mimic the sounds they hear around them. The fact that a mockingbird would mimic a car alarm is not a sign that ought to inspire confidence to someone on the way to their car on a dark morning. When I arrived at work and departed from my car, I heard a different sound, the squawking of many hundreds of birds in trees across the field adjacent to the parking lot in a scene of melancholy autumnal beauty, with trees covered in yellow and red leaves soon to fall from the branches and rot in the soil below to fertilize it during months of dormancy before spring to life again in the spring. In their own ways, it seemed to me that both the mockingbird and the loud assembly of birds I heard were sending a message in their own ways.
The birds at work, seeing as they have assembled towards the end of a particularly late fall, seem to have assembled for purpose of flying to some warmer and sunnier lands for the winter. Perhaps they were making loud noises merely to be heard above their brethren, but at the same time it seemed that they were communicating some kind of general message of anticipation and perhaps impatience to travel, or perhaps concern about the birds that had congregated together and whether any were missing before they depart on their migration. Likewise, the mockingbird at home was sending a message, and that is that for whatever reason, car alarms are far too common in going off in our condominium complex. Birds may have small brains, but they are not stupid—they learn from the environment around them, and in turn their behavior can be learned from by human beings who pay attention to their ways.
When I was a child, whether in Florida or in Pennsylvania, I would often wander off by myself when I did not have a book to read and observe and listen to the creation around me. I would look at the woodpeckers eating the bugs out of a large oak tree perilously close to the trailer where my grandparents lived, or wander out among the gentle mooing of placid dairy cows to find a pleasant and grassy spot next to a babbling brook where I could watch dragonflies and listen to the sounds of the life around me. Where it has been difficult for me to communicate with others around me, I have sought places where I could at least commune with the world outside myself, a place where if there was no one or nothing around that was able to understand me, at least nothing around would aggressively misunderstand me as has so often been the case over the course of my life.
For a being such as I am is compelled, in whatever fashion is possible, to communicate with the world around me. Whether it is through speaking or writing or playing music, communication has been an essential aspect of existence, and often a matter of particular importance. Yet this compulsion to communicate does not appear unusual in the least. The whole created universe around us is full of communication. Whether it is the language of the cells in our body that tell the story of our ancestry and at least some of our traits and qualities, or the radio waves sent out by the stars in the heavens, or the coloring shown or sounds made or chemicals secreted by animals, our universe is full of communicators. There are messages to be read for anyone that has an eye to see it or an ear to hear it. Yet it is too easy for us to focus on our own existence to such a high level that we forget that communication is a process that involves others—there is no point in sending a message unless someone is there to receive it and interpret it correctly and respond appropriately. Nor does the communication that others give us do any good if we do not care about them enough to pay attention to them, or if we do not know how to understand the message that we are being sent. How many opportunities do we miss to feel less alone in the world we live in, simply because we talk with no one to listen, write with no one to read, and cannot hear or read or understand the messages that are being sent all around us, even by the noisy birds in the trees.