My OLW for the year is FLOURISHING. I posted more about that here.
Part of flourishing is being adapted to your environment. One of the things I have been loving about my environment lately has been the birds that live here. Many times recently I have thought of the words, referring to a bird, "He sings each song twice over, / lest you should think he never could recapture / that first fine careless rapture." It's such a perfect description of birdsong and how joyful and abandoned it seems to be.
I recently went and looked up the poem, and I'd kind of forgotten that the title is "Home Thoughts, From Abroad." Robert Browning wrote it from Italy, in a homesick mood. It's a time when he doesn't feel like he's really flourishing where he is.
It's easy, when you feel homesick, to romanticize the place you miss. It looks better, brighter, more welcoming, from a distance. In your mind you know that things aren't perfect there, but you'd like to be there anyway.
I have to say that the US is making it easier lately to live a long way away. Between COVID and the political situation and ... well, Wednesday ... I am quite OK staying where I am. But there are always places and people to miss. Here's the homesick Browning.
Home Thoughts, from Abroad
by Robert Browning
Oh, to be in England,
Now that April's there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England -- now!
And after April, when May follows,
And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows!
Hark, where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge
Leans to the field and scatters on the clover
Blossoms and dewdrops -- at the bent spray's edge --
That's the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!
And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
The buttercups, the little children's dower
--Far brighter than this gaudy melon flower!
Song Thrush, from eBird.org
In high school I read a parody of this poem called "Home Truths from Abroad," ending with the couplet "For English spring sets men and women frowning / Despite the rhapsodies of Robert Browning." In other words, springtime in England isn't quite as idyllic as he says. It rains a lot, and it's still very cold. One time I went in the ocean at Weymouth in April, and I thought I would lose my toes, it was so cold!
Flourishing involves being where you are. Sure, you'll feel homesick sometimes; even if you've never lived anywhere else, you may long for new places. But you have to appreciate the birds and flowers -- the circumstances in general -- where you live. And I do, especially in the winter, when it's breezy and beautiful here, with lows in the upper sixties. That makes it easy to flourish.