07 October 2010

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Autumn

Autumn,... 'fall'. The majority of the population are enjoying mellow mists, picking out a pumpkin and packing away the barbecue; birder's are preparing for torture. As August draws to a sweaty close each text alert, phone call or sneaky peak at Birdguides invokes an increasingly nervous reaction; by September every vaguely mobile-like 'peep' initiates a clearly audible intake of breath and minor palpitations. Come October, the phone is passed to the girlfriend, a foetal position is adopted behind the sofa, hankies are readied, and an arse-about-face scene from 'Marathon Man' is enacted,...

Me [Er,... AN Birder]: Is it safe?... Is it safe?
Babe [All birders' girlfriends are babes, right?]: You're talking to me?
Me [Er,...] : Is it safe?
Babe: Is what safe?
Me [Oh, who am I kidding]: Is it safe?
Babe: I don't know what you mean. I can't tell you something's safe or not, unless I know specifically what you're talking about.
Me: Is it safe?
Babe: Tell me what the "it" refers to. [Notices text message] Ohhh,...
Me: Is it safe?
Babe: Yes, it's safe, it's very safe, it's so safe you wouldn't believe it, it's Toyota, your car is ready for collection.
Me: Oh,... great.

Or at least, that's how it was. Now? Now, I'm the the very model of relaxation. The secret? It's all about the management of expectations; you start out wanting to find everything, needing to see everything, fearing to dip anything. These are unrealistic expectations and what do unrealistic expectations engender? Unfulfilled dreams, and what do unfulfilled dreams engender? An unhealthy culture of blame, you project your lack of fulfillment onto your nearest and dearest: your boss won't give your the time off, your girlfriend refuses to relocate to Corvo, your GCSE physics teacher was senile, your mother smoked during pregnancy, your species is an irrational, grinning idiot of a misplaced primate, happily sitting in the fetid gutter of the latest in a series of deity/dollar inspired self-imposed saeculum obscurum. All these things may be true, but their position at the forefront of your mind is symptom not cause.

Manage your expectations. You will not find or see everything, you will dip. In the light of this, inner peace is maintained by appreciating the fact that the Blackburnian Warbler on St. Kilda has been found at all; your cortisol levels are suppressed by revelling in the fact that yet another duffer has turned-up yet another first for Britain; and your risk of acute myocardial infarction or cerebrovascular accident is significantly reduced by basking in the ornithological glow on your buddy's face as he recounts the finding of that mega,... for the tenth time,... today. All these things (when practiced in conjunction with handfuls of Clozaril, Risperdal and Seroquel) will allow you to get through to December with, at least, an outward appearance of quiet contemplative bliss (as long as the drug-induced tardive dyskinesia doesn't give the game away). Job done.


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