lessons from geese

“Why does one side of the V have more geese in it than the other side?” And so begins one of my dad’s favorite dad jokes.

The punchline for the dad joke is “Because there are more geese on that side!”

But in real life, the answer is a thing of greater beauty. Geese, in the innate wisdom that seems beholden to the animal kingdom, are perfectly aware of their need for teamwork, the basic concept that each individual benefits when they all help one another. It blows my mind each and every time I witness the lead goose move to the side, allow the next to move up, and make her way to the back to rest a bit. Genius.

Geese don’t sit around wondering what they should do, they don’t question their value when they pause for restoration. They do it because they instinctively know that in their rest they are storing up their power to lead again. They know neither is more important, more necessary, more valuable. Without any judgement, it just is.

Sometimes we lead, sometimes we glide along in the wind power of others. Both are necessary for the health of the whole.

Here we are, the back end of 2020, the year that has thrown us all into a world of unexpected adjustments and adaptations. On the one hand, entering autumn means we are approaching the dawn of a new year. And as optimistic as I’d like to be, as much as I’ve begun seeing memes about ‘100 days left in 2020’ (or wherever we are now) I’m pretty sure we aren’t going to flip a calendar page and be completely healed from the trauma of 2020. Far from it. I have a feeling this is a long road ahead – and – that it is designed to be that way. We still have more work to do.

Life isn’t immediately going to smooth out into a predictable pattern. My guess is it will continue with the winding bumps and murky waters that keep pushing us into deeper and more authentic versions of ourselves. Becoming this version of us isn’t an easy task, isn’t always clear, but is so very necessary.

It may take a while.

And so, some days we will be leaders, the ones offering inspiration. And some days we will be the ones who need to be inspired. And both of those places are ok.

At times we’ll be dreamers while at others we will need a reminder that it is okay to dream.

We are poets, painters, healers, teachers, and we are also the ones who remember to refill the toilet paper, buy the elderberry syrup, make the appointment, and move the laundry into the dryer. We are the do-ers and the be-ers, and the everything in between-ers. It’s a marathon of near-constant needs. There are a lot of ands happening in each and every one of our days.

And, in the midst of all this chaos, in the quiet moments of soul, we are reimagining, reawakening, realigning with a world that could be. When we are allowed a breath, our truest selves, our innermost hearts, are shining through. We need moments to breathe interwoven into the fabric of our days – for creating a new world is no easy task.

Yet, here we are – some days the lead goose, and when depleted, resting in our faith that someone else can take up the job.

So. Why is one side of the V longer than the other?

Because geese inherently know that to be vulnerable, to ask for help, is not optional. In fact, it’s the only way to move forward.

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