Adulthood for humans has been generally summarized for most of us in the biblical verse from 1 Corinthians: "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things." I don't know about you, but I raised two children, and was amazed -- horrified, actually -- at how the process of indoctrination we call "growing up" amounted to encouraging our kids, with materialistic carrots and sticks, to put away their curiosity, their eagerness to question, their desire to understand everything, their undisciplined but eager creativity. They retained some of it, of course, despite the best efforts of a politically driven education system, and remain maladjusted to that extent.
But what was picked up in place of what was put away? Is an adult just a non-child, one who has put aside the things that make humans interesting? The discourse in 1 Corinthians avoids that question; the next verse begins, "For now we see as through a glass, darkly." Indeed. Change the subject.
Back to "Operation Migration": Does it work? The short answer is yes; we won't know the long answer for a long time. Winter before last, a sedge of whooping cranes followed the funny little airplane all the way to a winter ground in Florida -- 30-mile days, with cooperating farmers lined up all the way -- and made it back to a Wisconsin breeding area for the summer. The population should grow, with the cranes taking care of one egg and humans taking care of the other. Theoretically, the mature whoopers will eventually take over for the airplane, and if their Florida home doesn't get subdivided, they might even begin to thrive again.
So there is something that works, sort of -- for cranes. I am Homo sapiens sapiens, thinking, thinking about how we might invest our big brains to help ourselves the way we are able to help the cranes. Well, my analogy just cracked, I think; I was about to say: "the way we are able to help the cranes invest their big wings in a fundamentally incomprehensible (some might say ridiculous) transcontinental flight to breed in a cold place they won't stay in long before flying back. ..." Is the adult state of Homo sapiens sapiens going to be something like that? Something that -- cranish? It's worked for the cranes for a long time. Does it matter that it is only beautiful?
The cranish people at least provide an alternative of sorts. Should I, should we, continue to follow these serious alpha types who thrust themselves upon us, insist that we let them lead, but whose sense of adulthood seems to be St. Paul crossed with the playground bully we learned as children to edge our way around? Or should we hang with cranish people who apply wonderful imagination to ideas for saving cranes from the rest of us? Between those extremes, who should we look to -- where is "the superman," the "ubermensch," the "oversoul"? Where do we go for the next us?
Maybe Paul Simon said it best: Still cranish, after all these years.