Written for a friends’ retirement:

“When a flock of starlings swarm, there is nothing perceptively guiding their flight. Mesmerising patterns are made by each bird keeping the same distance from the seven closest to them. Some scientists wonder if the patterns are made by each bird seeking the safest place in the centre of the flock. But the location of that point is constantly shifting. The place at centre of the flock one moment may be utterly deserted the next.

But before they migrate, they gather together on a wire: A fixed point by which they set their bearings for the next stage of their journey. Gathering before the migration together seems to be an essential stage in their journey.

Every institution, community, group or family have people who act like that fixed point for the swarm – providing consistent direction, regardless of the swirling flocks. Whether in formal, or informal leadership roles, they remain steadfast and unswerving – and acting as a reference by which others set their course or orient themselves at life’s junctures. They may not know they play this function. Those who draw on it may do so unwittingly, and perhaps ignore them a fair degree as well. But yet the flock benefits from their faithful focus and direction, regardless of the turmoil.”

For the source of this image and more on starling murmurations, see RSPB Guide to Starlings

One thought on “Constancy

  1. What a lovely thing to say about a valued colleague who is retiring. He/She will be able to look back with peace and serenity on a job well done. What is better than equipping and enabling others to follow in your carefully placed footsteps?

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