I read an article recently which detailed how traffic on the Birdwatch Ireland website has increased by 350pc in the six weeks since our national shutdown began.
A representative of Birdwatch Ireland was quoted as saying that many people felt the Covid-19 crisis had led to an increase in the number of birds, particularly because birdsong seems more prevalent at the moment. As I sat down to write this diary, I cracked my bedroom window open, hopeful that I might hear the chorus of chirping and twittering that has begun to form the soundtrack to life at home.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the difficulty of measuring time during this global pandemic: the melting of one day into the next, the innocuous shift of March into April, the sudden manner in which the evenings have stretched. Coming from college life in Dublin, where I drew energy from a carousel of events - coffees with friends, interesting lectures, extracurricular commitments - I now feel stifled by the sameness of each day.
Concurrent with the monotony of daily life is a profound difficulty in establishing structure. The days all feel the same and I have found myself questioning my ability to achieve some semblance of routine or adaptation.
I spent this past week thinking about how best I could manage the swathes of time laid out before me. I have thus far failed to be 'productive', giving myself over instead to boredom and occasional bursts of creativity. Although I am slightly unnerved by my rapidly diminishing sense of having achieved anything during lockdown, I take solace in finding other outlets into which I can pour my excess of energy and ambition. The birds and their daily song is one such pleasure.
Each morning when I wake, I've taken to opening the window and lying for 30 minutes, immersed in a garden symphony, thrilled by the playful insistence of their music. I never paid much heed to the birds before. My attention was directed at tasks I deemed more urgent and impressive - essay deadlines, exam preparation, social events. In my noisy and cacophonous mind - frantically attempting to stay organised and efficient - there was no time afforded to luxuriating in the liveliness of birdsong.
Now, however, the birds have become part of my daily routine, as necessary as getting some fresh air or eating three meals a day. Their song is a reminder of the necessity of slowing, of stillness, in the midst of our current crisis.
In a world which seems increasingly frenzied by the 24/7 nature of social media, I've also found comfort in the steadfastness and stability of television. On Tuesday night, Love Actually was on. It's set at Christmas and a debate ensued between my sister and I over whether it could be accurately termed a 'Christmas film'.
Again, sitting down to watch Love Actually on a mild April evening reminded me - similar to the birdsong - of how warped time has become. Here I was at home, halfway through a month I should've spent ensconced in the Trinity Library, simultaneously laughing and crying at a film about the importance of love. The entire thing felt like a charade, a topsy-turvy twist of fate.
By the end of the film, I found myself teary-eyed, but also greatly cheered. I thought of when I shall next watch Love Actually, probably during the run-up to Christmas, and took comfort in realising that the Covid-19 pandemic may have massively abated by then. As ridiculous as it might sound, the film reminded me that the seasons will shift, life goes on and, through it all, love and its accompaniments will persist too.
The morning birdsong and evening television have become ways of anchoring myself to every day. Through their regularity, I feel better able to map out the confines and textures of daily life, more capable of allowing myself to slow to a point of complete acceptance of monotony.
Although my life before was dynamic and busy, I have come to realise how sorely it lacked the stillness necessary for introspection and self-understanding. I can't remember the last time I sat for two hours and cried at a film with my sister. I've no recollection of ever stopping and tuning into the birds. I don't think if I've ever been reduced to trudging through each day with a slowness that would've once been alien to me.
In many of these diaries, I've mentioned silver linings - the importance of salvaging some good from a deeply unsettling situation. The birds and the television have taught me, in very different ways, the necessity of seeking solace in those aspects of life which may appear simplistic or mundane. It's a lesson which I hope - indeed I know - will stand me in good stead.