Look at this tree. Those aren’t leaves, they’re birds! Hundreds of them, thousands maybe.
I’ve never seen such a large flock of birds near me before. Maybe you haven’t either. What do you think your response would be? Would you think of Alfred Hitchcock?
I didn’t think of that for a moment.
I was fascinated, entranced, drawn outside with phone and camera to do my best to record something of this phenomenon.
Here’s what I put together from my short video clips and some photos.
Later, while reading Montaigne, I read
He who fears he will suffer, already suffers from his fear.
It got me thinking about the stance we take towards the world, about our default attitude. Because isn’t there so much fear around? In fact, it seems to me that fear is often used deliberately as a weapon of control.
What’s the greatest fear?
Some say it’s the fear of death. That this “existential fear” is the foundation of all other fears. For example, as a comedian I heard once said “I don’t have a fear of flying. I have a fear of crashing!” People who fear the dark, fear what dangers might be hidden in the darkness. People who fear dogs, fear that the dogs will attack them. People who fear illnesses, fear suffering and death.
Montaigne says if you spend your life fearing suffering, you’ll be suffering throughout your life. Yet so much of the health advice offered to people is based on trying to avoid death (the greatest fear).
If fear is our default, we don’t just suffer, we live in a shrinking world, fearing difference, the “other” and change.
What’s the alternative?
Dread one day at a time??!!
The great thing about alternatives to fear is that there are so many of them.
There’s courage. Courage is the determination to go ahead even when you are feeling fear. That’s something I’ve been practising since coming to live in France. When you start to live in another country with a different language, not only are customs and habits different but at first you’ve no idea how to ask the simplest things. So a trip to a post office, or the local Mairie, or the garage can be quite intimidating. Until you summon up your courage, and just go. And, in my experience here, each and every time I discover there has been absolutely nothing to be afraid of. People are friendly and they want to help. (Then next time you go the fear has diminished, or even gone away entirely)
There’s wonder. Wonder and curiosity. That’s the response I had when I saw all the birds. That’s the attitude I hope to take into every day – l’émerveillement du quotidien.
There’s love. Love comes with a desire to make connections and with an intention to care, or at very least, not to harm – and that applies in relation to plants and animals as much as to other human beings. How often does it seem to be that when your intention is a loving one, that you meet the same response? When I was a GP, my partners and I built a new clinic and the reception was an open one – no glass or metal barriers between the patients and the staff. We were warned that we’d be vulnerable to being attacked. It never happened. Not even remotely.
It closes us off from the world and from life.
The opposite is whatever opens – courage, wonder, curiosity, love…..add your own favourites at the end of this sentence!
I prefer the opposites for what they bring in themselves, but I resist fear for another reason. I don’t want to be controlled. Heroes not zombies anyone?