I like to watch birds. When I tell people, I take some ribbing for it, like “you are not one of those nerdy birdwatchers, right?” And I guess I am or at least that is what I aspire to. So why bird watching? I am not sure. I was raised in Florida and got to see some pretty cool birds growing up. Sand Hill Cranes, Swallow Tail Kites, ,
Wood Storks, Snowy Egrets. Some pretty dramatic fowl. As I have gotten older, I am appreciating finer distinctions among similar birds. Do you know how many types of sparrows or ducks there are? I was thinking about where this joy comes from recently. It occurred to me that watching birds is no more difficult than just being still and noticing what is already there. Birds are everywhere, city or country, downtown or on a rural road, walking on a sidewalk or hiking on a trail. It does not matter. When I stopped long enough and just pay attention, I’ve seen amazing things. Driving on the highway, I saw a kestrel on a wire. Sitting in the woods, I saw an indigo bunting. Walking the dogs, I saw hooded mergansers on the water. They have always been there. They have not changed. I have changed. I have opened my eyes to the that which is already there. Marcel Proust said true discovery is seeing the same landscape with new eyes. That is what watching birds means to me. Same landscape, new eyes.
It can be the same with people. I have good idea of what to expect from many people. Can I see them with new eyes or hear them with new ears? Am I open to the possibility that what they do or say may have a different explanation than what I expect? The answer is “yes” only if I am aware that it is a possibility. I want to apply the simplicity of birdwatching to the rest of my life. Be open to what is already there. Plus, I just like to be outside and see cool stuff.