We’re at that time of year when most of us resolve to do things better, differently or both.
I don’t make resolutions as a rule - I gave up “lose 30 pounds by my birthday” or “read ‘War and Peace’” years ago. But it is part of human nature to want what you don’t have if you think it will improve your life.
I find it comforting even established birders feel that way.
Don Freiday, for instance. I met Don once, long ago when he ran N.J. Audubon’s Scherman Hoffman sanctuary. He then moved on to run the Audubon sanctuary in Cape May and is now tending to the federal Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge not far (as the gull flies) from Atlantic City. He has also been writing a blog that features his musings, photography and tips on bird identification.
He recently posted how "I wish I had” been faster with his camera, been elsewhere when a rarity had been reported or been able to do more birding when he had to work. Since he works at one of New Jersey’s best birding spots, this wish is particularly sad.
The blogosphere being what it is, I wrote him a comment to commiserate. There are too many things “I wish I had” been able to do, too.
It’s a waste of time and energy to fuss over the bird too far to clearly identify or the rarity you missed by an hour in your local hotspot or the more common bird that everyone sees regular as clockwork except for you (in my case a saw-whet owl).
Instead, we should all focus on the good things we have and look forward to what new things we can accomplish. Right now there are cardinals and chickadees at the feeders but come spring there could be more unusual birds passing through, maybe even something new.
Be thankful to have the stamina for long walks or whatever hobby you do to escape from the daily grind, and keep feeling the excitement of discovering something interesting that might be around the corner.
Stop wishing and start doing. That’s the best resolution.
Have a happy, healthy holiday.