Fall is in the air. Oh, it still is hot and the trees, except for those who gave up the ghost in this summer’s drought, haven’t really begun to display their autumn reds, yellows, or oranges. But, on closer examination, we can see that nature is definitely dropping hints that summer is gradually relaxing its glorious grip. The birds know. Emmett and I know because we watch them and talk about them (yes, my Bully and I talk…well, mostly I talk and he dutifully listens, occasionally grunting an affirmative) as we take our daily strolls through the neighborhood. Grackles and starlings are beginning to congregate and troll the lawns as though they were sweeping a mine field. The energetic little yellow finches no longer serenade us. It appears they have begun their journey to wherever it is they spend their winters. The robins are definitely not as numerous as a month ago. In general, the symphony of songbirds so sweet and jubilant just weeks ago is becoming more of an occasional melancholy étude. Then there are the geese. These are my favorite of all, not because of their song, which resembles more of a New York City traffic jam than the New York Philharmonic. And certainly not for their traditional “calling cards,” which are less than appealing to the senses. No, they are my favorite because these extraordinary creatures are just that. Extraordinary. We can learn a lot from them if we just take the time to observe and heed the lessons. A very special person taught me about them many years ago and I have had special place in my heart for these amazing creatures ever since.
Fact: As each goose flaps its wings it creates an “uplift” for the birds that follow. By flying in a V-formation, the whole flock adds 72% greater flying range than if each bird flew alone.
Lesson: People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going quicker and easier because they are traveling on the thrust of another.
Fact: When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of flying alone. It quickly moves back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front of it.
Lesson: If we have as much sense as a goose we stay in formation with those headed where we want to go. We are willing to accept their help and give our help to others.
Fact: When the lead goose tires, it rotates back into the formation and another goose flies to the point position.
Lesson: It pays to take turns doing the hard tasks and sharing leadership. As with geese, people are interdependent on each other’s skills, capabilities, and unique arrangements of gifts, talents, and resources.
Fact: The geese flying in formation honk to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.
Lesson: We need to make sure our honking is encouraging. In groups where there is encouragement, the production is greater. The power of encouragement (to stand by one’s heart or core values and encourage the heart and core of others) is the quality of honking we seek.
Fact: When a goose gets sick, wounded, or shot down, two geese drop out of formation and follow it down to help and protect it. They stay with it until it dies or is able to fly again. Then, they launch out with another formation or catch up with the flock.
Lesson: If we had as much sense as geese, we would stand by each other in difficult times as well as when we are strong.
Fact: Geese fly South for the winter in the Northern Hemisphere.
Lesson: It is a reminder to take a break from the cold of winter and take a vacation to some place warm & sunny to rejuvenate ourselves.
Fact: The larger flocks of geese usually inhabit areas where geese eating for humans is more popular or in demand, and where there are smaller flocks of geese flying, there is usually smaller demand for geese to be used for human food. * This fact according to the Oklahoma State University Board of Regents study on geese.
Lesson #1: Larger flocks of humans together may not always be as effective as smaller flocks that are able to maneuver much more quickly in life and business without being eaten up by the competition…so to speak. 😉 (yes, this was a stretch, but relevant, no? 🙂
Lesson #2: The smart geese know to not fly with the big herds, and instead create their own niche flying circle or game.
Facts 1-5 can be found floating around the Internet, some saying author unknown and Outwardbound.org states Milton Olson as the original author. Facts 6 and 7 are from Entrepreneur, Author, Business Builder and Email/Web/Internet Strategist, Christopher M. Knight.
by Mary Oliver
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body, love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting-
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.