The Blackbird
 
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THE BLACKBIRD AT BREAKFAST-TIME

Whilst waiting for breakfast I looked through the window. A blackbird was hopping about on the lawn. "How long for?" I wondered. How long can a blackbird expect to live? I don't know - a few years if it's lucky I suppose. I must find out some time. "

Why is it living? What is it doing? What does it do during those few yew in which it is identifiable as an organic entity, described as a form of life?

Like most other 'forms of life' it spends almost its entire existence maintaining its organic entity, i.e. 'keeping alive'. Most of the blackbird's time is spent in searching for food and then consuming it, and in creating conditions which make that occupation possible, i.e. by defending its territory.

The blackbird song, about which humans tend to sentimentalise, is not sentimental to the blackbird. It is the identification signal which lays claim to territory and defies any challenger.

Its existence is precarious. The blackbird must always be in good health. There is no such thing as being poorly. There is no medical service, no recovery room, no convalescence. The blackbird is either healthy or dead.

The blackbird possesses a brain, but one which is designed solely to deal with the problems of survival. The bird is not only incapable of expressing ideas (I do not say 'being aware of' because that, although unlikely, we do not know.) but is also incapable of using the most rudimentary logic other than that associated with its own survival. e.g. worms must be discovered and eaten.

And suddenly I felt very frightened, for I am part of the same sort of life. I am part of that same minute 'biosphere' of a speck in the universe, a 'biosphere' which, if not unique, is so rare as to be effectively isolated from anything which may be comparable. And I have more in common with the blackbird than I have with anything at all outside that 'biosphere'.

This raises the question of my own 'identity' Am I, in spite of the attributes of speciality which I have been taught by my own kind to attribute to myself, am I really anything other than a specially adapted blackbird - or snail or amoeba for that matter?

Do I have any more significance in 'that which is' than, say, a blue-green alga ?

The Estate of William John Green, 2004