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Stress, confusion, creation, passion - for entomology and macro photography.

When we go through difficulties the effort made to overcome issues is sometimes surprisingly coherent and efficient. Fear over the lockdown did not prevail. I immediately started to think of a positive mechanism to stay away from the potential risk to become heavily depressed. My ultimate goal was to keep my mind busy with something I love, praise and chase it until it yields great results. What I did first was to sit and reflect on the possible ways to create something important and worthwhile and a great idea was born, namely my first scientific paper I am working on.

I spent the whole period of confinement studying the various species of Speedwell in my garden and the overall diversity of beneficial insects on these plants. I was so passionate and devoted that I inadvertently lost track of the days of lockdown from time to time. My garden turned out my best friend, the living organism that is the home of many wild plants and hundreds of insect species. My effort was greatly rewarded and I collected meaningful data for my observational study. Spending the whole day in my garden, being vigilant for insects and collecting specimens was truly amazing. I felt relaxed and loaded with so much positive energy. In addition, I managed to photograph an overwhelming diversity of insect fauna that I have never considered and explored in such level of detail before. This is taking place in my home country, Bulgaria.

In addition, I had to photograph everything I see. This was also fantastic. I am inclined to believe that the healing power of the garden is much more that what I expected. I am not alluding to doing gardening tasks only, but to the opportunity to contemplate and appreciate particular fragments and details from insect diversity. Now I fully realise the inextricable relationship between human beings and insects to its full extent, I see more clearly the gravity of all circumstances and urgencies over insect conservation. Last but not least, I was able to be with my garden many hours, much more than usual and rediscovered its majestic character, appearance and importance. This led to new contacts and meaningful discussions. I became more active on social networks, contacted many great people who share similar interests with me and was able to reach people who found true peace and tranquility during this harsh lockdown period. Seeing other people sharing my views had a very positive effect on my mood and productivity during hard times and helped me avoiding panic. I also recorded two wonderful micromoths that have never been recorded before in Bulgaria. All this taking place in my precious, wild, naturally beautiful and undisturbed garden.

Realising my own multi strand project about an exciting UK-based insect conservation initiative got temporarily suspended was a terrible shock for me because all my effort was impacted by the state of emergency. However, nothing is lost I said to myself and went for the pragmatic approach that a delay is never equal to complete loss. Those sunny days eased up the situation, I felt free and unrestricted within the limiting measures of the lockdown. I experienced and evaluated how essential it is to have your inner and very own sense of freedom and joy. Despite being social beings, we belong to this planet and this sort of solitude was something that helped me a lot. Entomology and macro photography prevented any sort of deterioration. Of course, I have my own troubles, troubles and circumstances that I would refrain from talking about here because it would be too traumatising. Despite having lots of burdens and terrible life experiences that had happened to me and my family I asked my garden for its help during this period because I did not want to “sink” and I got this help. Human beings have the means of surviving harsh conditions. The challenge is to believe in your strength and potential to overcome a given crisis. This lockdown was no exception, it was a test for my endurance and ability to fully occupy my mind with the things I love.

I am grateful to Matt for the opportunity to express my thoughts and share my experiences with other people via his great blog. I would be happy if my reflections could be useful and inspirational.

Radoslav Valkov , 30, is a passionate entomologist, award-winning macro photographer (CIWEM’s young Environmental Photographer of the Year 2010), devoted to insect conservation, based in Bulgaria.

Twitter - @ValkovR

Instagram - radoslav_valkov


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