2020 Grateful 37: Birdsong

Meet Maryjane. For at least the last 12 or so years, she’s lived in a yurt in a field in France with her family. Instead of spending her life being ‘told what, when and how to learn, followed by years of employment being told what to do, just for the privilege of having somewhere to live and enough to eat’, Maryjane left England, moved to France, built a yurt and chose to live with nature.

I refused to swap my valuable time, my life, for a job that was meaningless to me, with an idea that at some point in the future, I would have earned enough to do what I wanted.

Hers is a fascinating story that sees her studying Shiatsu and travelling to Senegal and India where she taught permaculture. She lived on an ashram in Canada studying yoga for a year. Then she married and had kids and found herself living a life she didn’t want, one driven by a need to earn money to pay the rent, to pay the utilities, to repeat the life she’d had as a child. She wanted more for her children.

Clean air, clean water, the freedom for my children to be themselves and follow their natural rhythms, a place to plant trees and watch them grow.

I came across Maryjane when a friend posted her TedX talk from Galway in which she talks about rewiring your brain with birdsong. I’m not a huge fan of the sameness of the Ted format and I rarely listen to them but for some reason, this one I clicked on.

I’m no stranger to birdsong. It’s what I wake up to in the morning. It’s the soundtrack to my day. Even as I write, the only noise I can hear other than the clacking of the keyboard is the sound of the birds outside chatting away. They’re a constant. The silver lining in the COVID cloud is that the noise of modern life has abated and the sounds of nature have come to the fore. It’s beautiful. The other day, himself surprised a golden jackal as he walked through the trees down by the lake. One of the village dogs has befriended a young fawn. And the storks are back.

But while I appreciated the sounds of nature on some subconscious level, I’d never stopped to listen, to really listen and hear what was going on around me. There was always something else to do. Maryjane’s talk made me a more active listener and my mood has lightened. Now, when I walk through the garden, I pay attention to the bees as they gorge themselves on the purple clover. I sit awhile and listen to what the finches have to say. And I watch the swallows, who arrived just this week, wonder where they’re going to build their nests. For the first time in years, I have time on my hands and I’ve been struggling as to what to do with it. For the first time in years, I’ve slept in the same bed for more than 10 days straight. For the first time in years, I’m not finishing things, mainly because I’ve not started anything.

For the last 35 days, I’ve run through an alphabet of emotions: anxiety, bitterness, confusion, despair, emptiness, fear, guilt, helplessness, indifference … I’ve been upset with myself for not making more of the situation, for not doing more with my time. But the birds are telling me to chill. It is what it is, they say. Relax. And for that reminder, I’m grateful.



2 Responses

  1. I’ve run thru the same range of emotions, but I include anger as well. I had just about finished unpacking after moving from one state to another, and was about to start exploring my new city when we got the shelter in place order. So, I’ve decided to just rest. And also listen to the birds and watch the world turn to springtime. It is enough, right now.

    1. It might be hard to get a feel for a city if there’s no one in the streets, Anne. Though at the same time, it could be the best time to explore. Hard to know. With so much available online, you could make a list of the place you’ll want to see when we’re allowed out again… stay safe.

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