I used to read bird books to learn the n…

I used to read bird books to learn the names of birds until the day it dawned on me that these names are what humans call the birds — not what the birds call themselves — and hence could tell me nothing about “birdness.” Even studying the anatomy, habits, and habitats of birds didn’t tell me much — what do hearts and beaks and wings, nests, and flight patterns have to do with the essence of “birdness”? Then I went deeper and studied the quantumness of birds — the way the particles that make up their molecules seem to become waves and then . . . nothing. So, there is only one way left to find out what it is to be a bird, and that is to ask the birds themselves. But the birds aren’t answering.

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