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Freedom and Finding Your Place with the Birds of Bharatpur

The primary theme at womePsyche is FREEDOM.

Freedom of thought and making choices. And the freedom to strive toward your idea of a contented life.

An often-used metaphor for freedom is birds. There is a reason birds have been on the earth for millions of years – they can literally fly out of the way of disaster!

So it was during a recent visit to one of the world’s most important migratory bird sanctuaries here in Rajasthan I had the privilege to see a natural world metaphor unfold before my eyes.

And once I saw it, metaphors (and puns) flew at me through the early morning mist.

It was gently moving through that dense fog that everything became clear…

Migration – A Search for the Ideal Environment

It’s not just birds that symbolise freedom.

Searching for ‘your’ place – the right environment – is connected to the core themes of  ‘personal freedom’ and ‘contented living’ on womenPsyche.

Through my experiences and a (very) long history of immigrants in my ancestry, I know many of us share the innate human desire to keep moving, searching and exploring.

But ultimately, I think you need to find your ‘right’ place.

That may be geographical, but also spiritual, or just your place within a structure in society.

Nevertheless, the ideal place is where you stand the best chance to grow and thrive.

And that means identifying the factors in your life that make the perfect (or close to perfect) environment.

What do you really need to thrive? What does that place look like? What will it take to get there?

And to show you that to achieve the ideal, you may face the toughest of journeys that will test your limits comes a lesson from nature.

Enter – the migratory bird.

This is the amazing bar-headed goose, one of the highest-flying birds in the world.

The Stunning Bird Display at Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary

I am not a twitcher, but I am a bird and nature lover.

As chance would have it, my current home is within hours of one of the world’s most significant locations for migratory birds – the stunning Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary in the Keoladeo National Park in Rajasthan, India.

Every Northern Hemisphere winter, hundreds of species of birds make a perilous journey thousands of miles from their home territory to give their offspring the best conditions to survive.

And according to a knowledgeable guide at the National Park (who took me on a serene boat ride powered by a bamboo stick), this journey is becoming even harder.

As ‘stop off’  or ‘layover’ locations dwindle between the home locations of the bird and Bharatpur, their journey is longer and more challenging, and some birds have had no choice but to stop coming.

Luckily for me, many still make the trip, and on a brisk winter’s day, I saw more birds than I ever have before (and I grew up next to a National Park!).

The Long Road to Migrate

I’ve been visiting India for nearly a quarter of a century. And I live here now.

Migrating to a new place is not for the faint-hearted.

I voluntarily threw out 95% of my belongings when I moved, but not everyone has the luxury of the choice. Many migrants are forced to search for new lands due to dangers back home.

Either way, it can be a long, uncertain path.

Finding your best environment to survive or open up new opportunities is a logistical, not to mention psychological feat most of us are not prepared for.

So, once you have determined the factors that make up the best environment for you – the place where you might be ‘free’ – it’s a matter of getting there.

I often think if you can ‘get there’ you are probably the sort of person who can manage the changing environment and do well.

There might be a fair amount of ‘grass is greener’ and ‘rose-coloured glass’ thinking to contend with too.

You can never see the future and how your chosen new place may change – it’s out of your hands.

At the very least, attempting to change or improve your life with no doubt shows you your capabilities and how much you can handle.

As I watched the incredible migratory birds at Bharatpur, I couldn’t help but admire their enormous risk and effort as part of the natural way of life.

Perhaps we humans have become too ‘comfortable,’ and there is little incentive to shake things up and test ourselves.

Of course, it depends on what you are looking for in life.

Not everyone has the urge to move geographically.

But for those who take the risk, it can arouse you to levels not previously imagined as you live a regular routined (perfectly acceptable) life.

Freedom and The Right Place

So, as the birds of Bharatpur put on their magnificent display for the watching eyes of tourists and twitchers, I was left to ponder how far we all go to find the best environment for ourselves.

It’s not always about survival, especially in the comfortable world many find themselves in.

Seeking contentment amongst large populations and growing demands on people and resources is a constant balancing act.

One thought that crossed my mind as I left for home was, ‘What if we are not supposed to find the right place but keep searching as a part of the natural way of things?’