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Snowbats

There’s an interesting thing about Austin, Texas that happens every year. A group of free-tailed bats (we’re talking upwards to 1.5 million of them) hang out – literally – under the Congress Street Bridge over a river running through the town. At the middle to end of November, they fly down to Mexico to stay in the warmer weather and then return to Austin when the weather warms up in March. It’s really a sight to see – as though the sky is blackened by masses of  flapping bat wings. I understand those bats as the weather gets cooler. At times I’d like to go to Mexico with them. However, instead I’ll consider how bat behavior applies to us, how and where we live, and how our minds deal with our location…

Should I stay of should I go?

Unlike the bats, I’m less of a seasonal shifter, so I don’t pick up all my ties twice a year and relocate. However, when I’ve talked to people who happily stay in the same town or region for their whole life, I probably seem more similar to the bats than not. Is moving natural or unnatural, or a habit? Is it the same for everyone?

I know that I was predisposed to travel from an early age. My parents took the two of us around the country and around the world, exploring and learning about different people and cultures. Moving around for school or work didn’t seem as daunting a task for me – even while I admit that some landings were softer than others – so my shifts seemed natural to me (read, my subconscious mind). Are you a someone who prefers to stay in one location or move from time to time? While it may display risk-taking in some ways, for some moving can be habitual, for others it can be going towards a destination, or away from an undesirable situation.

What we carry with us…

They say that “wherever you go, there you are” so no matter where we move to we bring ourselves (and the ‘stuff’ in our heads) along with us. While the bats move from Texas to Mexico and back, they are doing it for food migration. Some of us move for adventure or new experiences, while others move to get away from another location or situation.

When a move is made for that reason we have to ask ourselves – will the same pattern come up in a different language/culture/form? If we are the common denominator in the equation, will our move be fruitless because we will tote around the alchemy that created the situation we were trying to break out of in the first place?

A few tips to remember. When we move away from what we don’t want, it doesn’t mean that we’re moving towards what we want/need. Take a moment to figure out what you most need and want, which may serve as a better compass for locations or choice in your future. Another subconscious point is that the more we tend to work at avoiding feelings, patterns, relationships or thoughts, the more they tend to pop up in our lives. Sometimes, while uncomfortable or even painful, facing the problem that has hurt us or disturbed us can reveal the lessons that are valuable tools and learning for us to better serve ourselves in the future.

For every season…

Now back to the bats and their movement by seasons. I know I’ve had discussions with other people who label themselves ‘winter’ or ‘summer’ people. There are those who like sunshine and those who prefer overcast skies. Often it is what we are familiar with, what we’ve grown up with. Or, like me, we’ve decided that we’ve had enough cold (or hot) days in our lifetime and chose a different clime.

Does it matter? I’ve heard people say something like “I’m Mediterranean, so we have hot tempers and are passionate.” Maybe. Yet isn’t that just a label that we live up or down to? It tends to be harder to adjust when we truly believe it’s ‘in our nature’. Humans are surprisingly adjustable beings. When we come up against something like this, making a change, reestablishing in a different climate, it’s great to be clear for yourself. Ask yourself, what are the benefits of this move? What will I lose (reasons not to settle easily into this move)? You may see that it has nothing to do with the weather.

Bats of a Feather?

One thing that I’ve found consistently over the years of witnessing people move from place to place is that whether or not the person has a network of support will affect settling. A group of bats is called a colony and they feed and fly in a group. I would think that there would be advantages to this flock concept. There’s someone else to help out. Many of us move to locations where we don’t have others readily by. However, there are many ways to make connections – and they start with questions.

Are there groups of people who hold similar cultural or meaningful ways of thinking? Is there someone you can count on – preferably where you live, but easily at hand is alright. Is there a cause or organization that you can support – interestingly, the more you contribute to a community, the more you feel connected and can put your own issues into perspective. What do you really want, wherever you go? What baggage have you been carrying that it’s time to dump or repack? Who can help you with that?

As I watched the bats fly away in waves, I noticed the ticking/squeaking sounds that bats use as sonar to guide them and let others know where they are in a relevant sense. Sometimes we need to get a bearing for ourselves and it often comes from sharing. Your colony may be located around the world, yet take stock and call on those who may support you in your flight.

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