Birds Art Life Death: A Field Guide to the Small and Significant by Kyo Maclear

32321197Title: Birds Art Life Death: A Field Guide o the Small and Significant

Author: Kyo Maclear

Pub Date: February 9th, 2017

My Rating: ★★★☆☆

View on Goodreads

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

A writer’s search for inspiration, beauty, and solace leads her to birds in this intimate and exuberant meditation on creativity and life – a field guide to things small and significant.

In 2012, Kyo Maclear met a musician with a passion for birds. Curious about what had prompted a young urban artist to suddenly embrace nature she decided to follow him for a year to find out.

Observing two artists through seasonal shifts and migrations, Birds Art Life Death celebrates the particular madness of chasing after birds in a big city, and explores what happens when the principles of birdwatching are applied to other aspects of art and life. It looks at the ecology of urban spaces and the creative and liberating effects of keeping your eyes and ears wide open. Far from seeking the exotic, Kyo discovers joy in the birds she spots in city parks and harbours, along eaves and on wires. In a world that values big and fast, Kyo begins to look to the small, steady, slow accumulations of knowledge, and the lulls that give way to contemplation.

Moving between the granular and the grand, peering into the inner landscape as much as the outer one, Birds Art Life Death asks how we are shaped and nurtured by our passions, and how we might come to love and protect not only the world’s natural places but also the challenging urban spaces where so many of us live.

Birds Life Art Death is a small, quite and significant book. As it promises it is a field guide to things small and significant. It is a book about birds and so much more. The one-year birding journey that Kyo started with the musician is the story line that brings much more than just the birds. It gives the author time and inspiration to think about the small and significant things. What it gave me was a realisation that I don’t remember when was the last time I noticed a bird or birdsong. This book will make you think more carefully about your life and the small things in it, and will definitely make you think about nature around you. Especially if you live in a big city, and you lost your connection with the nature, it will be a book that will help you return to nature, to the small nature that is around you that you stopped noticing.

[…] the question was not “How can I flee this situation and get someplace better?” but rather “What can I do with what I have here?” I stopped dreaming of what a person could do with limitless freedom, resources, and time became more interested in what a person could do with relative scarcity, in what abundance could be generated with modest resources, in what a mind could create in cramped quarters.

This is the kind of wisdom we can get from this book. It is a book to be consumed slowly, to be thought about, to be considered. And hopefully, a book to change our thinking and action in a small, but significant way. If you’re willing to slow down for a while and think about something else than your busy, busy life, this is a great book to help you do it.


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