Even when I am at my lowest, watching the birds feeding from my kitchen window makes me feel better. The birds don’t know that it’s me who provides the food. They don’t know that they are birds and I am a human.
Beneath their feathers there is almost nothing to them, and their lifetime is a fraction of mine. And yet they seem to embody life, and the joy of living.
Manchester Mind is where I work. But the world isn’t divided into employees and service users; we’re all just vulnerable human beings, when all’s said and done. In my case, I’ve lived with anxiety and depression, on and off, for most of my adult life (and earlier!). My favourite birds are the goldfinches, who love the sunflower hearts I provide. They constantly seem to be communicating with each other, in a song one of my bird books describes as a ‘cheerful tinkling’. Their colours and their energy are infectious. And they provide continuity: although, I suppose, the individual birds die after a year or so, every year I see the same fluttering liveliness, like a stream where the water is changing but the trickling, twinkling, swirling experience goes on.
These tiny scraps of life don’t know about death: they are just there, in the moment, enjoying the food I give them without asking why it’s there, or worrying when it might be gone. And, just for a moment, while I’m watching them, that’s where I am too.