Thoughts by Richard Bleil
My friend in Oregon has been kind to crows for quite some time now. She has been putting out food and water specifically for them. Recently, she’s been finding gifts dropped off by the crows to say thanks. There are not many animals that drop off gifts, especially among non-domesticated. Cats will sometimes drag kills in for their humans, although this is often an insult to the human’s hunting skills. Don’t get me wrong, it’s sweet of them to try to feed us when, frankly, we eat a little too well already, but crows will find shiny “pretty” objects (in their eyes) and leave it for their beneficent humans. My friend loves crows.
My mother hated crows. She was an avid fan of our flying cousins, but she did play favorites. She didn’t like bluebirds, for example, because they are territorial and will chase away all of the other birds. One day, I asked her why she didn’t like crows. Her answer was two-fold, saying that they are ugly, and didn’t have a song.
It’s ironic that she felt this way, as crows are highly intelligent. Like so many in our society, my mother felt that beauty was all that mattered. Crows, in fact, are so intelligent that they even learn to mimic human speech. Recently I heard a story of a woman putting fresh water in the water bath and hearing “good morning”, only to find nobody near her save the crows. Every morning she would say “good morning” to them, and they learned to mimic this speech and return it to her.
When was the last time somebody exclaimed how attractive they feel Albert Einstein was? We look at Hedy Lamarr, bombshell actress of the 1920’s, and looking at old photos some might still think she was “hot”. How many of us, on the other hand, would find her a knockout gorgeous woman because she developed the mathematics that makes Bluetooth and Wi-Fi possible?
Legend holds that it is a crow that carries the soul of the departed to the heavens. Of course, I only know this because of the movie, but here are these incredibly intelligent birds that are disliked (at least by some) because of the way they look, and yet they are highly intelligent and show human emotions like gratitude and appreciation.
I guess our entire society is built around beauty and physical prowess. We fill stadiums to see contests between athletes based on power, strength and speed, rather than audiences watching chess matches of wits and intelligence. Our movies glorify physical beauty and sex instead of wisdom and patience. Maybe this is genetic, based on propagation of the species. After all, from a strictly biological perspective, the whole purpose of life is to pass along our genetic code to our progeny (a purpose which I have most assuredly failed to achieve). Beauty is often related to health and ability to carry a child, while strength and power is related to the ability to protect a pregnant woman and children, while speed translates to the ability to hunt food and provide for the family.
So now I’m kind of eating crow because I can’t figure out how to end this post. Okay, fine, I’m misusing the phrase but you know I had to throw it in there somehow. This post won’t change anything. I don’t mean to call out my readers for being attracted to beauty. Heck, so am I. That’s probably why I’m single in fact, as I overlooked some truly spectacular women blinded by the light of some gorgeous piece of eye candy that was, frankly, out of my league. I deserve to be single because of this flaw. So now I’m trying to figure out the end to this post. I certainly don’t want to make the claim that I’m that nerd that was overlooked, because the reality is that I don’t feel like I’m all that intelligent. Stubborn, yes, goal driven, of course, but not intelligent. Some of the dumbest people I know have their doctorates, and I’m no doubt one of them. So, is there a moral? A lesson?
No, not really, save that I do like crows myself as well. One of my favorite Edgar Allen Poe pieces is The Raven, the legends relating to carrying the souls of the deceased and the incredible intelligence and gratitude shown by these creatures elevate them in my heart to enormous heights. But life goes on. We’re still often attracted to people for the wrong reasons, but maybe not always. It’s just more difficult for some of us to claw our ways into the hearts of another. So keep an eye out. There really are levels of beauty that we all too often overlook.