“Isn’t it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive–it’s such an interesting world. It wouldn’t be half so interesting if we knew all about everything, would it? There’d be no scope for imagination then, would there? But am I talking too much? People are always telling me I do. Would you rather I didn’t talk? If you say so I’ll stop. I can STOP when I make up my mind to it, although it’s difficult.” -L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
I’ve been trying to walk for about an hour every day lately. Most of the time I’m not intending to do any birdwatching, but I’m constantly distracted by birds because I see so many. They might just be common birds I see around the neighborhood, but as a fairly new birder I’m practicing finding birds whenever I can. It’s strange how I get so frustrated with myself for walking slower, or stopping to look at something. It’s as if the act of walking has lost any meaning or purpose. There is no meander, only a set goal of burning as many calories as I possibly can.
Yet when I stop and stand in the same spot for three minutes to look at the same two trees I can see thirty birds flying in and out of them. I can stand still in time while the Earth paints her poems around me.
We make her move so fast anymore. Sometimes I think we need to practice going slow instead of going fast, because we’ve forgotten what it was like.
I remember as a child growing up on the farm in Iowa. On a beautiful spring day I would come home from school and lay in my front yard for hours. Staring at the sky while clouds moved overhead; the Earth pulled me against them. I watched the light drain from the sky while paint splashed the air. Then darkness came. It didn’t feel like a waste. Nothing was a waste when you could feel time moving. That was when we had space enough to dream.
It scares me that I go for walks with people and they tell me they didn’t see a single bird. It scares me that we have become so disconnected with nature we can’t even recognize a robin or a grackle. How can you care for the finches if you don’t know the finches? I don’t think you truly can. And a world without finches would be no world. No world that I would want to live in anyway.
Sometimes I think I’m aging prematurely. I love that I am able to write these words and send them out into the world, and I can thank technology for that. But I think we all equate technology with knowing the world, or understanding it. But knowing the world is knowing the world, and I’m afraid most of us don’t know the world anymore. Not in the slightest.