In New York City, we tend to think (affectionately) of pigeons as kind of dirty, irritating birds—-but no one can deny that they can fly like the wind.
Pigeons are sort of like NYC itself—stinky, infuriating, but still soaring.
But you should never underestimate a pigeon.
Because a homing pigeon can be transported 500 miles from its home roost, and as soon as it’s released, it will fly straight back there. Pretty much no matter where or how far away from home they are. With very little hesitation.
In fact—and this is truly amazing—they can find their way home EVEN IF YOU MOVE THEIR HOME.
WELL…we still don’t know how they do it.
But lots of theories about how they do it have already been completely disproved, so you can pretty much forget about anything reasonably logical.
Nope. They don’t do it by smell, memory, the sun, landmarks, sight, magnetic fields, or sensitive hearing.
Instead, the evidence suggests that there is an UNKNOWN force, sense, or power that connects pigeons to their home, no matter where they are, and no matter where you move it.
“Home, where my love lies waiting silently for me.”
Simon and Garfunkel
Quantum physics (often called the “Science of Consciousness”) tells us that, at the sub-atomic level— where objects (like particles) are unimaginably small—those objects are located at a specific place in space and time—sort of like having a street address.
But those same objects are ALSO wave-like at the very same time, and in this vibrating wave form, they spread out (like radio waves, for example) all over everywhere—which means they’re also located everywhere at once.
Here is an analogy: Let’s say that your Home Address is 172 W. 14th Street. This address is a very specific place or location.
But at the quantum level, in its vibrating, wavy state, your Home would also be “anywhere (and everywhere) you hang your hat.”
Or, as Peter Pan famously said, “Turn left at the moon and straight on till morning.”
A perfect metaphor for this quantum situation is the Internet.
Right now ask yourself, “Where is the Internet?”
If you think about it, the Internet is sort of out there everywhere in the ethers, like a Cloud of Information with no real location—something that’s very hard to grab onto.
But the Internet is also at the very specific address of your personal laptop and your website’s URL
With the Internet, Everywhere and Somewhere both exist at the same time.
This is a very quantum situation.
Or, as a very quantum Elvis Presley once sang,
“Home is where the heart is,
And my heart is anywhere you are.”
Living organisms in nature, like pigeons, somehow seem to open a doorway into this quantum realm.
In fact, if we had the consciousness of a pigeon, we would have a consciousness that we can barely imagine.
So here is one fascinating, evidence-based theory suggested by Rupert Sheldrake (one of my all-time favorite science geniuses) about how pigeons get home.
Sheldrake thinks that the consciousness of a pigeon is very different than ours.
He suggests that when a pigeon is born, it already has all the awareness it will ever have. It already knows everything that will happen to it, almost like a map of its life that is spread out before it—one continuous awareness that extends from its birth to its death.
This is very interesting to think about. For us, that would be like having all your deathbed memories—when you look back on everything that happened in your life—presented to you as soon as you’re born.
Most of us probably wouldn’t really want that kind of consciousness.
We prefer the surprises that make life interesting.
But Sheldrake helps us to imagine the consciousness of a pigeon, so different from our own.
In pigeon consciousness, it knows everything that’s going to happen, (sort of like going to a good psychic on the Upper West Side in NYC). And its life unfolds exactly as anticipated.
BUT IT DOESN’T EVEN KNOW THAT IT KNOWS.
Since the pigeon has no language, it doesn’t have the concept of “anticipation.” Without language, its experience is all visual and sensory. It doesn’t think or reason in words, like the endless chatter we have in our heads. It doesn’t worry about the past or the future like we do.
(In fact, language is the source of most of our human angst about the past and the future.
“Yesterday I did this, tomorrow I hope THAT won’t happen.”)
No, a pigeon is aware of its entire history from birth until death (there are no surprises!), but experiences it all as one timeless moment. The entire life history of the pigeon exists all at the same time, including the trip away from and back to its loft.
In some sense, the pigeon never went anywhere.
Sort of like when you rewind a cartoon backwards, and there’s a crazy spectacle of arms and legs flailing everywhere in wild confusion, but then amazingly everything still ends up in the right place.
Country roads take me home,
To the place I belong
Sooooo….The possible answer to how the pigeon finds its way home is that part of the pigeon’s mind is already home and never left home.
When a pigeon is released, the part of its mind that’s still at home guides it right back to its loft.
Because in some sense it’s already there.
The consciousness of the pigeon is distributed in time in a way that, from our point of view, makes it capable of performing miracles.
But from the pigeon’s point of view, it’s just another ho-hum day in the life.
That means that, except for the poison of our human language telling us there’s a past, a present, and an unknowable future, and tormenting us constantly about what’s going to happen next, we could possibly have the consciousness of a pigeon and see our entire lifetime all at once.
Pigeon-Think would put a lot of psychics out of business.
Quantum physicist David Bohm proposes that there is an order deeply enfolded into the entire universe—an order that connects everything with everything else. And although that enfolded order and infinite connection may not be readily apparent, it’s only because the connections are hidden from our view.
But with pigeon-consciousness, we could fall into that timeless quantum realm—an Already-There existence—where darkness holds no threat, and anxiety and fear would leave us—to forever go in peace.
Because no matter where we went, we’d always, already be home.
“Home is where, when you go there, they have to take you in.”
You’re already there.
Dr. Christine Ranck is a trauma therapist in New York City, specializing in creativity and performance enhancement for professional and non-professional artists and performers. She is co-author (with Christopher Lee Nutter) of the experiential, consciousness-expanding creativity book, IGNITE THE GENIUS WITHIN, from which this article was adapted. Dr. Ranck teaches "Ignite the Genius Within (applying expanded consciousness to everyday life)" workshops all over the country. Visit www.christineranck.com