How to Move Deftly Through the Sky of Our Thoughts and Lives

Craig Stanland
3 min readDec 28, 2021

It’s early in the morning; the sun hasn’t yet risen above the condos adjacent to my apartment building.

The last pinks of the sunrise give way to a clear blue sky of a glorious fall day. A few cirrus clouds slowly transform and evolve, adding dimensionality to an already beautiful skyscape.

I understand why Monet preferred to paint by the morning and evening light. The colors are more alive.

I’m sitting at my desk in front of an expansive window overlooking my balcony. I’m an hour and a half into my morning routine, just wrapping up my journaling when I pause to think.

Something has me a little stumped. I need a moment, and I do what I always do when I’m a little stumped by something I’m journaling about.

I stare out the window; the blue jays are awake, flying from branch to branch in the now barren tree, the last of its leaves still holding on.

A small flock of birds flies overhead; they dance across the morning sky.

I allow myself to let go and merely observe as the birds fly in unison, and I find myself deep in thoughts and visions of hundreds, if not thousands, if not tens of thousands of birds flying in unison.

It turns out there is a word for this spectacle of nature, murmuration.

I find it fascinating and hypnotic to observe birds moving in sync with one another, changing direction with a sharpness and precision that would make a fighter pilot envious.

Moving at speeds of up to forty miles an hour, packed so densely that only a body length separates them.

They move with the synergy, fluidity, and ease of a seasoned ballerina. Their movement appears as choreographed chaos, dedicated to a single purpose, survival.

When the birds fly in unison, they are both hunting prey and protecting themselves from predators.

Taking moments to observe the glory around us is a gift of being alive that we, unfortunately, don’t always unwrap.

In that moment of being lost in nature’s glory, the answer to what was stumping me came in an instant of crystal clear clarity. It was a moment of deep understanding…

Craig Stanland

I write about my journey from corporate success to federal prison and finding joy, mission, meaning, and fulfillment beyond professional and financial success.