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FOFOMO- The Fear Of The Fear Of Missing Out (1 Viewer)

The sheer oddity which is 2021 has continued apace over the past few weeks. The endless days of sunshine actually saw me going out less, weekends were dominated by ‘Dad duties’, and despite Covid restrictions being more or less abandoned I found myself staying closer and closer to home, for convenience sake.

Elder daughter has secured part time work, and being a dutiful Dad, I’ve been taking her there, rather than have her use public transport. It allows me to catch up and spend quality time with her, after thankfully surviving the worst of the teen years (she has my personality, and one of me is enough, never mind two)

My son has had a summer of tennis tournaments, and being aware that at some point soon he’ll outgrow having his Dad tagging along, I made sure I could see as much of it as possible. This is FOMO at its most elemental- a parent seeking to maximise time with their child, in the knowledge it won’t last forever. The relief that their ‘normal’ activities were resuming after the year from hell.

So, a balance was needed where I had to sacrifice Big Days Out. Instead, short days locally were the replacement for my epic trips to Lothian or the Highlands or Dumfries.

In many ways, this mirrored last year where, by necessity, staying close to home was the only hope of actually doing anything. It had opened up new horizons for me, and I came to appreciate all of the wildlife on offer, not just our feathered friends who unfortunately seem to bugger off in July. But again, like a popular band’s awkward second album, the second year of staying local hasn’t turned out as planned. The local fringe park where I feasted my eyes on hoverflies is a bust this year, there have been far fewer butterflies fluttering by, and the age old battle of expectation vs reality was played out, and not to my benefit.

The land seems tired this year, maybe too many of us ‘staying local’ and not giving it enough love?

And there’s the nagging concern that I’m making a mess of things- what if I’m missing out by sleeping in rather than getting an early start? What if I’m missing out by working late, rather than getting some evening visits in? What if I’m missing out by choosing the wrong local place? I mean, we’ve all had multiple “you should have been here earlier” experiences, what if my entire time is made up of these, and I don’t realise it?

But….what if I’m missing out by not going birding? The unspoken thoughts at the back of my mind.

I’ve found myself wary of looking up the ‘recent sightings’ birders pages on social media. I shied away from Birding Lothian on Facebook, too many memories of Jim Bowen and Bullseye “here’s what you could have won”.

June and July, being quiet times, meant I was able to delve into the world of insects and creepy crawlies. Bees, butterflies, ants, flies, beetles. There’s a fascination with insects I think, and its replicated in our fascination with birds. They exist in a different world, often a different Kingdom, than we do. We share a commonality with mammals that make them seem less alien, again on an elemental level. Insects and birds, they have a fey ‘take it or leave it’ approach to us. They can play hard to get, and that’s the appeal.

And that led me to think of the ‘dark times’ as I call them. My natural ‘young man’ pursuit of fine beer and average women were my main focus. I missed out on spending my weekends on long walks in the field, from time on nature reserves, on doing anything other than lying hungover all day with a damp towel over my eyes. But then, doing that is equally part of the rich tapestry of life, so would I have missed out on something by not having this?

I look back on long summer days when I was at school, even as far back as primary school. The fascination of my first ‘bird book’ (Illustrated Guide To Birds And Birdwatching by Neil Ardley. I still recommend it) that I’d carry it everywhere with me, even between rooms in the house. Sunlight waking me up at 5 am in June, a garden full of house sparrows, walks along country lanes and over fields- places now replaced by identikit housing estates. A garden of sparrows now unheard of. These were times well spent, times where my birding knowledge was minimal (fill in your own punchline there…) Everything was new, the sun always shone, the air was always fresh, you could enjoy the smell of the farms without being considered odd, where growing up in a village wasn’t unusual. Where growing up loving nature was the norm.

So, I find myself at 47, knowing there are more days behind me than ahead of me, with an urge to make up for lost time. I want to see and understand nature, immerse myself. I want to make up for lost time. I want to have massed flocks of waders circling around me as a peregrine causes havoc. I want to stand stock- still, waiting for a butterfly to land so I can take a really bad photograph of it. I want to look at bees close up, and try to work out the species. I want to get my nose to the ground and try to imagine the words beneath me.

Should we, though, govern ourselves by being afraid of what we may miss out on? If I visit Baron’s Haugh, should I worry about whats happening in Uddingston? If I walk along the River Clyde, does it matter whats happening in Musselburgh? Maybe this is why I’m not a twitcher, but I can at least understand the urge.

Carpe Diem is a cliche, tired and played out. Yet, it remains strangely true. Seize the day, enjoy each day you have, enjoy each place you find yourself in. There is beauty all around us. Enjoy it each day you can. If the pandemic has taught us anything its this.

Stay healthy, stay safe. We’re getting there.


Dave Derrick

Well-known member
John, have missed your coherent ramblings over the past couple of months; good to have your latest update. Much the same here .... particularly have re-stoked my love of butterflies; had taken them very much for granted in recent years ! All the best, stay safe, Dave.

Green Sandpiper

Well-known member
John, have missed your coherent ramblings over the past couple of months; good to have your latest update. Much the same here .... particularly have re-stoked my love of butterflies; had taken them very much for granted in recent years ! All the best, stay safe, Dave.

Cheers Dave. I did manage to get out on Sunday just past, but I'll post a trip report on that in another couple of days.

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