I don’t have bucket lists. My existential excuse is that they seem too purposeful. It would be a disaster given how instinctive I am. Of course the obvious reason is bucket lists require a lot of planning; something I am not good at.
I did once try to think of five birds I would want to spot in India. The list started with Black Baza and ended with Fire-Tailed Sunbird. I never gave it much thought until recently when it occurred to me that I might be a discriminatory birder.
I realized that I have been judging birds by their wing colours.
There were some gorgeous birds on the list. I doubt if anyone could deny just how enchanting each one looked. But there was a troubling pattern to their physical appearances. They were either bathed in bright hues of the rainbow or blessed with unique aberrations. I had picked colourful birds with extravagant crests, peculiar posteriors and striking tail-feathers.
My parameters for selection were purely cosmetic. I felt like one of those film protagonists who stalk women under the pretext of true love. While it is obvious that mere physical attraction is the reason.
It got me thinking about how superficial my appreciation for aesthetics is. Can I ever see the beauty in house sparrows if they are surrounded by fire-tailed sunbirds? Probably not. Does is it mean that the sparrow looks any less magnificent? Certainly not!
Like so many, I too respond positively to bright colours and blatant irregularities in the natural world. But in doing so I limit my understanding of what may constitute to true beauty in my eyes. After all there is inescapable love in even the most ordinary of grey and brown plumage.
In case you were wondering, here is the list:
A poem for the house sparrow:
She burns, but never breaks;
my cheeks thirst for her songs
and with hope – I lay awake,
quaking in the fire of her embrace.