Tuesday, 15 March 2016

A new version

It is most probably an age thing. Without wishing to come across as being morbid, the longer that we have immersed ourselves into all things 'wildlife' then it stands to reason that the time that we have left to do so is shortened. That is life. And death. A recent exchange of comments on another blog dealt with the fact that as we age the conversations change (from getting married, to having kids, to schooling, then to illness). As someone who is no stranger to staring at one's mortality firmly in the face, it beggars belief that anybody can get het-up about missing a rare bird or that the weather is not quite right to put the moth trap out - but we still do, even those of us lucky enough to know better.

A number of the (more) mature bloggers that I follow have a similar outlook on their life, as far as time spent with the natural world is concerned. This is an outlook that is based not on end result, more on the path that is taken to get there. It might be taking on a personal challenge or goal (Dylan Wrathall's eel quest is a fine example), or Peter Alfrey's glove's-off response to big business wrecking his Nirvana - visit his blog for many examples of his work.

As for me, there has been a settling of my personal tectonic-plates of frustration and disappointment. No longer do I care what others have seen and whether or not I return home with a notebook full of noteworthy sightings. Just being out looking, having the freedom to do so, and in places that can evoke joy, pleasure and stimulation are enough. Why shouldn't that be enough? For years I struggled with suffering self-inflicted disappointment - what a waste of nervous energy.

Dungeness. Canons Farm. Epsom and Walton Downs. Holmethorpe Sand Pits. Pulborough Brooks. My back garden. They all do it for me in differing ways. This year has seen another evolution in what I do and where I go. Not revolution, just evolution. I was just as excited by a Blackcap on the feeders as I was by the four-figure Black-tailed Godwit count in Sussex this January. Finding local sites that still have Marsh Tits are just as rewarding as getting a patch tick at Canons Farm. All this, and we are still only in mid-March. The spring migrants are on their way and there are hordes of moths to pupate and flowers to blossom. I cannot wait.

And here is a life lesson. It has taken me the best part of 12 years to realise the incredible gift that I have had in still being here. It isn't as though I have ignored my luck or been ungrateful for it. But major illness wears you down, physically and mentally. Some of us are not as strong as others, and it takes time for body and soul to regroup. And even then the confidence needs repairing. And the role that we assume to get through it all, by playing the survivor, needs to be slowly let go. It's anyone's guess what we are left with after the assault, but the likelihood is that it isn't the 'old' self. It's a new version. It just takes some of us a while to get there and realise it.

It can be a beautiful world, full of wonderful things. They can be found on the top of a mountain but just as likely to be on your back doorstep. It is easy to be knocked-off course by bad news, corporate greed, petty grievances, peer pressure. Some lucky souls seem to have discovered a way to bypass such negativity in life. I do try hard to join them. It seems to involve a learning process that has no easy entry. But if you know a short-cut, I'd be grateful if you would share it with me.

15 comments:

  1. Not had the life changing brush with the reaper in quite the same way Steve , but a health issue ( work induced) that had me hospitalised changed my outlook on many things but especially the work/life balance and in my social pursuits,I have a far more laissez faire attitude than I formerly did & its better for the soul!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. More time birding then! Best medicine there is Geoff!

      Delete
  2. Always knowing there is someone worse off than you is enough to stop one dwelling on the negatives and be thankful for being able to complain about stupid things such as hard carrots in a ready meal, etc..

    We frequently say "Isn't it, though? Marvellous!" whenever things are not going our way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Always good to have a coping mechanism in place Andrew...

      Delete
  3. Humbled and flattered by your reference to my post - many thanks and great for the stats! I reckon that you're spot on about the age thing! The pointless absurdity of obsessional list making, in whatever form, is something that only passing time will reveal. A realisation of your own mortality will, I assume, provide the reality slap that is required when an individual finds reason to complain about the trivial. My dummy spitting tantrum, out on a deserted marsh, was exactly that! I'd lost an eel - no one died - get real you twat! I'm so glad that no-one else was there to see me behaving like a spoilt kid. Remove the passion/desire and something gets lost, but much more may be discovered - it's called growing up! I've a long way to go before I realise what it's all about - Dyl

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We really must have that beer - no, make that beers.

      Delete
    2. We really must try harder - next time you're down at Dunge?

      Delete
  4. It's all getting a bit deep with you guys ain't it, is imminent old age getting to you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not just age Derek, although that mostly.

      Delete
  5. Well, aged almost 69, I can confirm that it doesn't get any better and a lot of the time it hurts. You start badly forgetting names, aches and pains last for days after doing anything physical, braving the cold and wet in mid-winter doesn't seem as easy as it used to, you seem to take more pills than you used to, and oh, you start disecting your life more regularly as above.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi Steve, well that was a post! I think as we get older we all seem to just begin to relax a bit more about the trivia. What was important aged 25 seems much less so aged 50. Or maybe our minds are more pre-occupied with 'other things' now....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We have been equipped with a brain Stewart. A blessing and a curse...

      Delete
    2. A brain? Yep - we've all got one of those; it's, surely, about how we choose to use it?
      Luckily, age seems to be able to assist in the task of sifting the wheat from the chaff?
      Nothing matters more than remaining true to yourself - that's the gospel according to Dylan! Take care, stay safe and enjoy life - Dyl

      Delete
  7. Oof. Steve... That's a powerful reflective piece. Feeling a little humbled here, to be honest. I do know what you mean though. While finding an Eastern Olivaceous Warbler stirs the heart, I found myself getting the same - no, a deeper - thrill this last weekend re-finding Early Purple Orchids on the same steep Somerset roadside bank I first found them on over 30 years ago. Small things, but they can inspire big emotions.

    ReplyDelete