Kindness / The Murmuration of Starlings

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
—Philo of Alexandria

Have your heard of murmuration?
Listen, it’s breathtaking.
Google it…but, like…later.
it’s basically bird-flocking quantified
to the awesometh power.

It’s starlings—communing through flying
and swirling—like one transcendent entity.

They move in a fluid choreographic flux
on the constant edge of next shift,
next shift, next shift,
and each of these shifts
is called a critical transition,

a murmuration of thousands of starlings,
tuned into each other’s movement through
the phenomenon of scale-free correlation,
following neighboring velocities,
each bird affecting
the next seven birds nearest to them,
and then the next seven and the next seven.

Look, even Charles Darwin said survival of the fittest
was a misapprehension of his findings,
even he believed in the holistic,
was awed by the elaborate and elegant
interdependence of nature.

From abiogenesis all the way to present-day,
from subatomic particles to the entire biosphere,
it’s emergence that encourages evolution.
Kill or be killed is a lie of the mind.
An outdated paradigm.
A flak jacket that can’t keep out light.

Let us take flight
toward our final destination
of wild and untamable kindness.

The voyage is long
and travels forward
and backward in time.
It’s a bumpy ride,
but the upshot is, we can’t not try.

I’m talking directly to
the tiny little you who lives inside of you,

reminding you of all the truth
you once knew you knew,

returning you to your previous innocence,
restoring your clarity,

because kindness is your true nature,
and I promise, anything beyond that
has been inculcated.

separation itself is an illusion
double-brewed in the hateful culture-stew
of roiling cruelty
we have all been cooking in.

And despite the desire to stay in denial,
it’s bubbling up to the surface.

What I’m saying is,
there’s way more work for us to do.

Don’t get lulled into complacency
by that fact that you feel compassion.
Kindness is action.

Not just that, as a matter of fact,
kindness is actually a radical act
in this hardscrabble and roughshod
crapshoot sneak-attack of a life
spilling with inner demons
and double-dealings.

Kindness transcends mere feelings,
it digs in the dirt,
is braver than hurled insults,
is rebellious enough to be vulnerable,
is vulnerable enough to rebel,
is confident enough to be patient,
calls forth the great recalibration,
an attunement to the taste
of sweetness
that starts within.

If you’re currently
in life’s trenches,
please get this:
kindness is
your weapon,
your best defense,
your greatest defiance.
This ain’t rocket science.
I don’t care what your tribe is.

The surprise is that
kindness does not equal weakness.

Actually, it’s meanness
that requires an Achilles’ heel to sting.

Do not be deceived,
meanness preys on your insecurity,
offers false surety,
walls off and masks,
distracts from the little voice inside
that’s calling for acknowledgement,
is needful of healing.

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All of this neglect and emotional starvation
based on pattern repetition so ancient,
it’s tread
raw and bloody
crop circles
upon your throbbing heart.

Behind every protective wall of defensiveness
is a frightened child fearing for their very life.

Do not withhold the kindness that is longing to flow through you.

Give it away. Now.

Be corageous enough to topple your facades,
repurpose them as bridges,
span the divisions.

Once you’ve been on the brink,
stared into the abyss,
no matter the flavor
of your personal chasm of darkness,
kindness becomes your soul’s own prerequisite.

Once you’ve been to the bottom,
you can recognize salvation
in simplicity,

the merciful intoxication
from the swoon-perfume of orange blossoms.

The awe possible from
a sky ablaze
with the murmuration of starlings.

The heartrending generosity
of unguarded eye contact.

This injurious journey
is filled with hair-triggered-
who only want love
in a way they can understand it,
waiting for someone to say
show me where it hurts
and give them
the chance
to answer.

Do not withhold the kindness that is longing to flow through you.

In this very moment,
you could choose to say yes,

You could remember gentleness,
even toward you,
even though you like it rough,
even though life’s made you tough,

You could choose to stop all the naysaying.
Who are you to discourage anyone,
yourself very much included?

You could choose to be grace.
You could choose the alchemy
that awaits your bravery,
spin your entire existence
into endless golden thread.

In this very moment,
you could choose to say yes,
you could put your hand on your chest—
on your heart,
on your throat,
on your cheek,
you could let that little voice
within you speak,
and this time, you could listen,
give yourself the gift of presence,

In this very moment,
you could choose to say yes,
let this newfound gift
of presence warm like caramel
taffy in your hands,
let it expand wider
to encompass the person in front of you,
behind you,
to each side of you,
the seven people closest to you,
then the next seven,
and the next seven, and the next,
then this whole room,
let it grow in your inclusion,
past human,
past all blooming,
past every last murmuration of starlings,
until your soul is a whole swarm of moonbeams,
filling the universe
with your unique,
super sweet
and deeply-needed


Photo: “Starling Murmuration” by Tanya Hart


This piece had its world premier 4/9/18 at Write Club Los Angeles.