Locked Down

A robin that fed from my hand during my ten years of lockdown
Only after completing my bird-music track “I’m going to sit in my garden and watch the birds” did I remind myself that I had myself spent 10 years sitting in the garden watching the birds.
A blog post that I wrote a couple of years ago about the experience seems to have more relevance now.
You scan the horizon, your view an expanse of hill, field and sky, then you focus in on a detail, maybe a bird or a tree. Does your perceptual world contract to a shrunken fragment? No, it stays the same size or maybe even expands. As your attention homes in, so there is a mental blossoming – what was coarse-grained becomes finescale. Uniform Mondrian blocks show their true nature as a filigree of delicate tracery.

Like a baby in a pram, whose universe consists of its mother and perhaps some toys, it seems limited, but this is the canvas upon which the everything plays out – all the sights smells and sounds to feed the baby’s developing brain.
And this is what I found during my ten years of ‘lockdown’.
A decade long stretch of chairbound illness largely confined me to a living room. My ‘patch’ was the view through the window. I had swapped the people, job, relationships and fully working body of my previous life, for a garden full of birds.
Luckily for me I had an obsession with birds. This exchange isn’t one that I relished but it was made bearable by my fascination with all things avian. It would only be a slight exaggeration to say that I spent 10 years looking out of a window. But I was rarely bored, rarely down. As I often say – the birds kept me going!
I didn't do things by halves, I recorded and documented everything, I produced an annual report and a website – nothing less than would be expected of the true obsessive!

And as my external world shrunk so my appreciation of what I had expanded.
The brain is greedy for input. If it doesn’t get the big screen, surroundsound experience it makes do with the portable TV version. Not only does it make do, it compensates by elevating the smallest sight and sound into a kaleidoscope and a symphony.
Parkinson’s Law states ‘work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.’ There are many corollaries of this. Mine would be: ‘perception expands so as to fill the amount to be perceived.’
We may, at times, have to make do with crumbs from the perceptual table. But what crumbs! If we take the time to look, nature gives us a feast for our senses and a banquet for the soul.
this is an edited version of the blog post – the full post is here
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  1. Hi, nice post. I think I remember your posts on a website while you were housebound, i used to comment from time to time. If I recall correctly you had a huge number of Goldfinches! Cheers,
    Mike Duckham.

    1. thank you Mike, so we know each other from Birds in a Cheshire Garden days!


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