Zugunruhe

October is only six days old, and yet it feels like an old friend greeting me with open arms.  With it comes orange leaves, crisp breezes, and Oktoberfest–Okay, so let’s forgive the fact that the München festival is over…and just pretend that Oktoberfest actually happens in October–
Thoughts of that festival always bring me back to my own roots: Wien, Kaffee, topfenstrudel, sauerkraut, and so forth.  Thus awakens my adventuring spirit.  Crisp air, good food…these things are hard to experience inside an office.

I want to go to Vienna again!  The Alps!  I want to see the Rockies in the fall!  Big Sur! Yosemite! Colorado Springs!  Albuquerque!  Flagstaff! Boundary Waters! Black Hills! North Woods!  Everywhere!  Let me go!  Let me see new things, experience change! Oh to be a bird on the annual migration, able to cross the country and land someplace new, yet familiar!

I have found that often August and September are a mad rush of change, excitement, and preparation for October.  That is not to say that activity slows in October, it just settles into a familiar bustle.  The months preceding this one are hectic and jumbled: crammed full of planning, moving, new clothes, new books, new goals…You get restless.  You get tired of the way things are.  You yearn for a new place, a new space, a new season.  You re-arrange the living room.  You run off on a weekend excursion.  You get new art, maybe on your body, maybe for your house.  You make plans: some to keep, some to forget.  You rearrange the furniture…again.

Ecologists have a word for this in the animal kingdom.  It’s Zugunruhe.

You see it in animals as they prepare to take off across the landscape.  They prepare for the change.  They get excited.  They bustle around.  They stay up later.  They eat more.  They make small moves out and about.  If they had clothes, they’d pack.  And unpack.  And repack.
The thing to notice about zugunruhe, is that it’s not just a restlessness.  It’s an excited preparation to make a change.  It’s a readying of the body to embark on a journey.  It’s purposeful restlessness.
This concept in itself is remarkable, given that the animals affected have such delicate metabolisms.

Even hummingbirds go through this.  Hummingbirds!  Tiny winged creatures that are perpetually hours away from starving to death!  They undertake this heightened activity, this restless preparation for the Big Change.

If they go through this every year, and make it, so can I.

What I have..it’s not just wanderlust.  It’s premeditation of an adventure that I know will lead to…well…if I knew, it wouldn’t be a change, would it?  It’s a great restlessness in my spirit that tells me it’s time for a change for the better.  To move.  To take a risk.  To learn a new thing.  To see a new place.  To break that habit.  To make a change.

Have you felt that?  Have you had such a burden on your soul that things need to change?  It’s inescapable.  It works its way into your dreams, your conversations, your quiet meditations.  It’s October, and it’s time.

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4 thoughts on “Zugunruhe

  1. “Have you had such a burden on your soul that things need to change?” I feel it so much. All these words came from my heart, too.

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