This morning I woke up to the news that the referendum vote on the UK’s membership of the EU had been won by the Leave campaign.
I immediately felt sad, not least because I see this as a victory for the forces of xenophobia and misinformation. I’m a great proponent for diversity, for the celebration of uniqueness and for integration (the definition of which is “the creation of mutually beneficial relationships between well differentiated parts”).
But I found something else happened too. I tumbled into anxious feelings of uncertainty. Question after question flooded my brain.
Will I have to give up living in France? Will I need a residency permit and visas to visit other European countries instead of having the right to live here and to drive across the borders into Italy, Spain, Belgium or wherever I else I want to visit freely? What will happen to the currency exchange? To the value of my pension? What about my children and my grandchildren? Will they now lose the right to travel, study and live in this richly diverse continent?
Oh, the questions kept coming, and the answers are unknowable.
Then I looked outside and there he was again. The redstart. I’ve written before about my experience of a particular redstart in this garden but since yesterday he’s been perching on a chair right outside my front door and whistling loudly. He’s never done that before and it got me wondering.
What’s he trying to tell me?
Is he in trouble? I even went and looked where his nest is but couldn’t see anything wrong. He can’t be hungry. There’s an abundance of food around just now. He looks healthy and vigorous. Nope, I couldn’t figure it out.
Then I thought, well maybe he just likes it there. On the back of that chair.
Or maybe he’s just enjoying being close and asking for some attention.
Well, you know what he did? He called me right back into the here and now. The worries, the unsolved problems which might not even ever exist, all faded away. I just enjoyed looking at him, listening to his song, and taking his photograph.
Attention to the present and the particular does that for us. It makes today, this moment, more real, more vivid, and more enjoyable.
Thank you, Mr Redstart.