Fall is perhaps my favorite of the seasons. The air changes. Sweatshirts and jeans replace t-shirts and shorts. The world is enhanced by the rust, the red, and the gold of trees changing from their usual green. Leaves float from above to the ground below. There is peace, quiet, stillness. The sounds of fall are familiar to us. The crunch of leaves on the ground as we walk. The honk of geese overhead as they fly south to escape the cold.
The next time you see geese flying overhead, stop what you’re doing and look up. (Actually, stopping to look up is a good thing, geese or not, but that is for a future post.) You’ll see the familiar ‘flying V’ formation. But take the time to really watch and listen.
First of all, you’ll hear the familiar ‘honk’ of the geese. Did you know that the ‘honk’ comes from the geese behind the leader and it is a call of encouragement to the leader at the point of the v? Geese recognize the need to encourage and support one another. They do this naturally, almost spontaneously. When the lead goose gets tired, he or she falls back and another takes its place at the point. Geese recognize that one leader isn’t enough, especially if the journey is long. It takes more than one or two to lead and as they fly along honking their support of one another, they take turns leading. They just seem to know. They don’t ask for help or support. They just seem to give it naturally. When one of the geese is sick or injured, it drops to the ground. But remarkably, it is never by itself. The sick or injured goose is joined by two others who will stay with it until it is healthy and can fly again. When it is ready, the three join another flying v and take off. Geese seem to know when they need to help, to protect, and they naturally care for one another. And, they don’t ask for permission to join another group flying in the v formation. They join in and are accepted. As they fly along in this new v formation, they take up a honk of encouragement and take turns at the point. They just seem to know. They accept and are accepted. They encourage. They protect and care for one another. They take turns leading when one is tired.
Simple, unsophisticated creatures geese are. I suppose you can argue that they aren’t very intelligent. I mean, they can’t construct bridges or buildings, solve equations, or come up with magical cures for disease or illness. They can’t repair power lines when they’re down or install cable TV to homes. They can’t drive a car or work a computer.
But . . .
It doesn’t take a scientist to understand the simplicity and beauty of geese, to marvel at their instinct, at what comes natural to them. Their understanding that it takes more than one to lead. Their understanding of the importance of encouragement. Their care and compassion for a sick or injured brother or sister. And, their willingness to join in and the acceptance they are shown by their brethren.
Perhaps we can learn from geese. Perhaps we should learn from geese. In our homes. In our place of work. With each other. Honk if you agree. (a smile) Something to think about . . .