My Soul is a Hydra: Or a Love Note to Birdwatching and Wildlife Photography

You know that adage, life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but the moments that take your breath away?  Sometimes such bromides take hold of my sulphite soul and turn it into a gibbering pile of mush that ultimately become my most cherished memories.

I’ve always had my own version of the above truism. In a vague understanding of that universal connection, I feel there are moments that rip chunks of my soul (spirit, heart, essence?) away, and there it stays, suspended in the memory, fueling a single point in time.  In return, my remaining self soars and grows anew.  I am left with more than I gave away.

Most of these great moments, throughout my life, have had to do with animals, a treasured collection of amazing experiences–my first green sea turtle, a particular Hawaiian Crow wearing an E-Collar, a baby giraffe just a smidgen shorter than me, a whale breaching into the sunset,  an elephant at the London Zoo, an eagle on the glove, a dog that knows exactly when some serious cuddles are needed, just to list a few.

Yet sometimes I forget that life can be saved by simply walking out your door, that when my soul falls asleep like a leg, the best alarm clock is a shock of nature. Sometimes revival is essential to survival.

A recent personal tragedy left me sprawling on the rubble of a crushed and broken spirit.  The desire to shelter myself in the folds of a fluffy couch overwhelmed.  I stalled the healing process with no future ignition in sight.  On a very short trip away from my mother’s couch to take out the trash, the healing began as a seemingly endless flock of Mississippi Kites soared overhead. As they passed, so did the veil of misery. I simply woke up and opened my eyes to something beautiful. It’s funny how one road can lead to another, and pain can help us find beauty and joy. It is, as they say, life.

As my home in Mission is only 20 minutes away from Bentsen State Park, a part of the World Birding Center, the next morning I ventured out at sunrise to watch some birds and lift my spirits. Accompanied by a dear friend and experienced birder, my spirit began to bud and grow again, as an amazing kettle of approximately 300 Broad-winged Hawks rose into the sky. The instant relief led to an amazing day and evening of birdwatching, now a new salve and hobby, which I wish I had discovered years ago. I captured much of the day in photos, a challenging and rewarding aspect to birdwatching that I feel enriches the experience:

I took so many bad pictures, a few decent photos, and one truly great photo (can you guess which one I think is great?), and that one amazing photo made all the other photographs worthwhile.  A nice metaphor for life–a dizzying array of fleeting moments, some devastating, others happy, and the few that are truly magical, that ‘take our breath away’, and make us look forward, eyes wide, for the next perfect instant of unadulterated joy the world’s sorcery throws our way.

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3 thoughts on “My Soul is a Hydra: Or a Love Note to Birdwatching and Wildlife Photography

  1. Pingback: Bentsen Rio Grande Valley State Park | A Life of Whimsy

  2. Pingback: Bentsen Rio Grande Valley State Park | A Life of Whimsy

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