Do you know what a roller pigeon is, Barney? They climb high and fast, then roll over and fall just as fast toward the earth. There are shallow rollers and deep rollers. You can’t breed two deep rollers, or their young will roll all the way down, hit, and die. Officer Starling is a deep roller, Barney. We should hope one of her parents was not.
That was a line from the movie Hannibal, with Lecter talking about Clarice Starling. A quick search at youtube for roller pigeons showed birds flying upward and then suddenly tilting back their heads followed by the rest of their bodies into a spontaneous tumble, cartwheeling down towards the ground.
I guess roller pigeons are interesting because they do something that is not essential to survival, unlike everything else birds do: hunting, nesting, migrating, and of course, mating. But rolling? It seems so naturally foolish. It does not exhibit the regular behavior of animals. Rather, it portrays the irregular behavior of people.
Ah people. Human beings. The ability to think in a significantly higher level than the other animals. And yet we do things that seem so unnecessary. But are they?
It is only with the heart that one can see clearly. What is essential is invisible to the eye. The classic line from Little Prince. Maybe some things are not really unnecessary after all. In a roller pigeon, what we see is a pointless tumbling down. But if we try to see with the heart, we can clearly see the joy and fun the pigeon is feeling while it rolls, a cocktail trio of adrenaline, dopamine, and endorphins rushing into its brain. Ah, such fun.
And the things people do for fun. A 1997 Time Magazine article on Dopamine was very informative about the reasons and explanations on the things people do for fun and joy. In a nutshell, it says that the neurotransmitter Dopamine is responsible for the very good and addictive feeling people get when they drink alcohol or take drugs – or when they win in a poker game or have a very productive day at work or have sex or fall in love. Dopamine is the feel-good chemical that can be activated by natural and chemical means. It should, however, be kept within limits because too much is just as harmful as too little, just as the offspring of two deep rollers tumble all the way down to the ground. Just like some people.
There are shallow rollers and deep rollers.