REFLECTIONS

Birds and other little things

Be still and listen to the silence. If you manage that, you’ll become aware of a world away from the petty frights in your mind

In Summary

• Meditation helps put your mind at ease

How much do you know about birds?
How much do you know about birds?
Image: COURTESY

Every morning, before I get started for the day, I meditate. I’m not saying that with the intention of sounding like a Buddhist-enlightened gasbag. I meditate, first thing before doing anything else, for practical reasons, as in to prepare my mind for what’s out there.

I mean if it’s not birth certificate criminal syndicates, it’s bad drivers, people put before you to test you, and an economy hurtling to the bad place. And that’s not the half of it.

Like a friend of mine put it in a Facebook post, ‘I wake up in a good mood every morning, and then idiots happen.’ Mind you, this works both ways. You could be the idiot that happens to other people, unintentionally, of course. Either way, it’s best to be mentally prepared for all eventualities.

Hence meditation. The idea is to be still and listen to the silence. If you manage that, you’ll become aware of a world outside, a world away from the petty frights in your mind. Your sense perception may also seem heightened or different than usual.

 

Now, where I live, there are lots of trees. With trees come birds, and every morning, many times as early as 4am, these birds erupt in a medley of birdsong. It’s a melodious cacophony that often makes me think of electronic dance music, what with hundreds of birds (it sounds like), all whopping it up with trills, chirps, and crescendos, and then switching up the tunes like you wouldn’t believe.        

Anyway, in one of my mind-preparing sessions, the birds were singing as usual, only this time, I heard them differently, acutely, like their combo of tweets and chirrups, seemingly all around me, were the only sounds in the world. I’d never heard them like that, or maybe I hadn’t really listened until then. I know, I know, a tad sentimental, but what can I say, that day the bird singing was sublime.

Pay attention to the everyday, you will notice something that’s always been there anew. And you will wonder, as I did about birds and why they sing loudest in the morning.

Contrary to what old Disney cartoons would have you believe, birds don’t burst into energetic morning song because they are happy. It’s quite the opposite. The singing is an act of aggression, an aggressive stance, if you like.

People who study birds say this early morning bird singing, known as the ‘dawn chorus’, is mainly a male bird affair. They sing to warn other males to stay away from their territory, as well as hopefully attract females by showing how big and tough they are. It’s chest-thumping in song.

And it is at its loudest and liveliest in the morning as a show of vitality. It takes a bird energy to sing, and you if can do so vigorously during the most challenging time of day — before breakfast, after surviving a cold night and predators — that’s saying to other males don’t mess with me, and to females, come get with me.

Of course, I didn’t know all this at the time, sitting there in lotus position, hearing the birds. I just listened and felt… at peace.

 

We sometimes underestimate the influence of little things – Charles W Chesnutt.