American Biologist David George Haskell once told me that there are few things more life-altering than the act of learning the 20 most common bird songs where you live. He could tell you the name of any bird just by hearing it chirp unseen in the trees, and to this day I am fascinated by his knowledge and ability.
I never did learn to identify the birds by their songs, but his advice did inspire me to pay more attention to them. Once I began listening, I realized that there was hardly a time I couldn’t hear the birds singing. Suddenly, every walk felt more beautiful, enriched by the sounds I had been unconsciously ignoring.
Within the incidental, we find the unique, the inspiring, and the wonderful. If life is a coloring book, then it is these small things, these bird songs and other details, that provide the color. When we look at our feet and walk somewhere without taking in our surroundings, eat so fast we don’t taste our food, or do anything else without truly paying attention, we deny our lives the vividity of detail.
I am not telling anybody to go out and learn the different bird songs in their area. Rather, I am encouraging everyone to relish in the things we might not see as being important. There is a magnitude to the simple things in life that is derived from their abundance; the small and often ignored details of the world are everywhere, so long as you take the time to pay attention. The incidental, and seemingly inconsequential, is capable of inspiring such wonder that I would encourage any and all to take a step back and enjoy them, be it birds or anything else.