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What’s the Rush?
10th February 2020
Fast food, fast fashion and fast cars. Long hours, short lunches and little sleep. Places to be, appointments to keep and decisions to be made. It’s a fast paced, fretful, frantic world we live in today!
With so many demands on our time (never mind all the social media channels clamouring for our attention and, dare I mention, political upheaval), it’s no wonder so many people feel, stressed, anxious and permanently depressed.
Whether working or retired, keeping home or caring for loved ones, we’re all under increasing pressure to keep up with the modern world. With all this rushing, I’m lucky enough to have one ace up my sleeve to keep my nerves from fraying. I love wildlife and because of this, I cannot help but notice it wherever I go and whatever I do. It’s a tremendous gift.
The other day my attention was drawn to the radio news (where they were inevitably discussing the ‘B’ word) not for the commentary but because I became aware of a blackbird’s deep melodious song rising up and flowing over the presenter’s words. I find this happens to me all the time. A traffic jam is not a time of frustration, it’s an opportunity to watch the kestrel hovering above the hard shoulder hunting voles. Stationary traffic allows time for the embankment game: How many wildflowers can I identify? When I have a meeting in a big town or city, it’s a cue to arrive early and scan the skyline for peregrine falcons, and tree-lined streets for signs of wagtail and starling roosts.
When I’m out shopping, I park well away from the buildings and loiter close to the shrub beds, lingering to detect the musky whiff of an urban fox, or catch a glimpse of a winter waxwing. I now take most business calls on my mobile phone, so I have the option to walk and talk. I’ve heard and witnessed returning migrant birds much earlier this way. Chiff chaffs, cuckoos, swallows and screaming swifts have all been identified while working.
For some time now I’ve made a point of stopping to notice nature at least once a day. It’s addictive and has formed a habit I’m happy to share. It brings peace and tranquillity in a loud, hectic world. I simply make a point of pausing when the instinct is to rush and notice nature there and then wherever I am. It can be giant like a mountain, or tiny like a seed. It can indulge any of my senses, the warmth of the sun, the smell of cut grass, the sound of bird song, or the sight of something immediately about me.
What have I learned? Plenty. Nature’s pace is far healthier than humankind’s. Calmness costs and weighs nothing. Nettles do smell. Bees have passengers. Lichen will grow on anything that stays still long enough. Relaxation does not require electricity. Oh yes, and sound recordists don’t like birds!