, 2022-12-08 15:54:00,
The pandemic changed us. COVID-19 stripped away basic social facets of humanity, and as we coped we each rewrote a chunk of source code within ourselves. I have a friend who started painting wine bottles. My wife became an expert in caring for houseplants. Lotta folks bought Pelotons; others tried overthrowing the government. We all needed a new thing. I started birding.
In the summer of 2020, I found emotional refuge in the parabolic flight of goldfinches, and by autumn—following an agonizing decision to send our kids back to school—I started walking in the woods for an hour after dropping them off each morning. If you have never needed to get two young children ready for school, please continue living your life well. If you have, then you already know that it is like drinking poison for the first hour you’re awake, a bitter taste that will stay with you all day unless you find a way to purge it.
Being outside and quietly focusing my attention on something unrelated to the stressors in my life releases the knot in my shoulders. Research by King’s College London suggests that seeing birds or just hearing birdsong can lead to improvement in mental well-being for up to eight hours, but you don’t have to take the scientists’ word for it—all they did is study 1,300 people for three and a half years. Instead, take it from me, one guy who’s been birding for two years. I am mostly not depressed. It works!
“Oh but winter is a bad time to see birds,” you may…
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