Why watch birds?

I am increasingly becoming aware of the fact that I enjoy the activity of bird watching and bird photography less and less. The whole process of embarking on exotic holidays and expensive open safari jeeps to photograph birds appears far less charming to me that it was several years ago.

@ Rann of Kutch. January 2020

What precipitated this change? I began asking myself why I photography birds. And the answer to this is to capture a perfect image of a bird in the perfect pose and perfect lighting. I ask myself again, “And what would you do with that photograph?”. I would want to share it on social media and garner likes from others or perhaps publish it in a nature magazine and feel happy about it. But how is this useful to me? Apart from the fact that it makes my ego sense feel a little better than it did earlier. To this I have no answer. One counter-question to myself would be, “What is wrong in doing this? If somebody enjoys this activity, one should do it”. I do not argue against this line of reasoning. It is apt for certain set of people with certain proclivities. This is certainly subjective. However, I seek something much larger than fleeting social impressions. I seek meaning in life.

It is certainly not that I am enjoying nature less. On the contrary, my appreciation of nature and the calming effect it has on me has grown substantially over time. I now tend to view nature not as an agglomeration of forms and associated names, rather as a unified whole organism working in an hitherto unbeknownst unity. This unity I cannot possibly rationalize or define by any means. It is a feeling beyond a mental state of even being emotional. It is of the nature of deep contentment – of an unfathomable undercurrent of love – a love without excitement or without the affliction of separation or yearning. It is the form of a vast still lake or as I call it, a profound ‘isness’ of being.

I then quickly challenge myself. What if this is poetic nonsense? A product of viewing life through colored mystical lenses? I cannot possibly say, for science hasn’t yet touched these inner realms to the same effect as it has described the material world. For now, I choose to trust this irrational, yet real and profound feeling, like an artist would trust his inner emotional palate.

And so, I choose to connect and become one with nature as opposed to observe, analyse and dissect it into different categories. I lay greater emphasis to the calming effect nature creates in me as opposed to the mental jugglery of names and forms. This is, by no means an attempt to belittle the scientific study of forms, but to overlay on it a layer of abstract feeling. It is the transformation of the scientist to a scientist-philosopher. I believe this represents a holistic approach, not just to appreciate nature but also to live a whole and fulfilled life.

[I choose not to name this (although the mind has already labeled it)]

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