Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Existential Crises, The Sodium/Potassium Pump, and Glorious Bird Crushings


This Grasshopper Sparrow, as well as all of the other birds in this post, was extremely accommodating during a rainy ten hour day of birding on the east side.
It has become both something of a running joke and a source of internal conflict how infrequently I have been birding of late. In addition to the general moroseness my lack of birding has installed in me, it has also brought about a certain amount of shame. Not necessarily a disproportionate amount, as with so many other shame tinged aspects of my life, but enough to cause me existential discomfort. I wish that I could say that I have devised a plan to reconcile this shortcoming, but alas...I have as yet been unsuccessful. 

Lark Sparrow, a bird whose back streaking I may have never really noticed/appreciated until now. 
This Upland Sandpiper was one of the small proportion that are seen; the vast majority are heard as nocturnal flyovers.
You see, birding for me is something that needs to be balanced. It is often a constructive effort to be sure, but this pastime of mine (ours?) also has a nasty tendency to lend itself to overindulgence and the line between those two states can become virtually invisible at times. Don't get me wrong, I heartily enjoy birding, more so every day that I partake, but I (we) must also be cognizant of the fact that we are all much closer than we'd like to admit to falling into an irreversible state of madness. We all have a finite amount of free time in our lives, some more than others obviously, but it would be a tragedy if birding consumed more than it's fair share of our time at the expense of gainful employment, sleeping, nourishing, and socializing. I would even go so far to say that this may be what is so offensive about so many birders today. Overindulgence, bordering on obsession.

After seeing maybe 1,500 Red-shouldered Hawks, I finally had one sit still.
I assume this Summer Tanager was a very recent migrant, frantically eating and not residing at the very top of a tree.
You see, this is the root of the problem I've been trying to work out. Everything in life has to be balanced. Here is a metaphor. Your heart beats because of sodium and potassium. And although sodium and potassium have completely opposite goals and objectives, they must find a way to balance themselves out and work together (the sodium-potassium pump). If they don't do that, we don't live anymore. In my life, and some of yours, I would assume, I struggle to maintain the same sort of balance between the serenity of solitude I achieve whilst looking at birds and the sanity I retain from conversing, cavorting, and consuming whilst in the presence of those people whose presence I enjoy. Sometimes I am successful. Other times (the past year for example) I am not. Life is a struggle. Nothing is forever. Things change around us and we must adapt. If not, we will die. Or, we could all just write blog posts about it.

Spotted Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper