By Everette Chapman
I saw a cartoon some time ago, in which one youngster was saying to the other, “It must be getting to be cold weather; the geezers are flying south.”
“You mean geese, don’t you?” replied his friend.
“Oh, yeah, them too,” came the rejoinder.
I am reminded of that conversation a couple of seasons each year, as the Canada Geese make their way south as the weather cools and make the return trip in the spring. I think of geese more recently by virtue of watching a mating couple that has taken up residence on and around the little pond between our screened-in porch and the fifteenth green on Links O’ Tryon Golf Course, adjacent to which we live. I am told that geese mate for life, and we can learn from their loyalty. There are other lessons we can learn from geese also. Over 25 years ago I first read the following facts about geese, from which facts we can learn much.
Fact. As each goose flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird following after it. By flying in a “V” formation, the entire flock adds 71% greater flying range than if each was flying solo.
Lesson. People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are headed more easily and quickly, since they are buoyed up by the thrust and encouragement of others.
Fact. Whenever a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone and quickly returns to the group 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 will stay in relationship with those who are headed where we want to go, and we will be willing to accept their help and to give help to others.
Fact. Whenever the lead goose gets tired, he rotates back into formation and another goose flies at the point position.
Lesson. It pays to take turns doing the hard task and sharing the leadership. Human leaders, like those in the animal kingdom, get tired too, and need to rely on others.
Fact. The geese in the formation honk from behind to encourage those in front of them to keep up their speed.
Lesson. We need to make sure our honking from behind is encouraging and not discouraging. In groups where there is great encouragement, the production is far greater. The power of encouragement is the kind of honking each of us needs to hear. As the saying goes, “One ‘Attaboy’ cancels out ‘You idiot’ a thousand times.
Fact. When a goose gets sick or wounded or shot down, two other geese drop out of formation and follow it down to help and protect it. They stay with it until it is able to fly again. Then they launch out on their own to create another formation, or they catch up with the group they had left.
Lesson. If we are as intelligent as geese, we will stand by each other in difficult times as well as in times when we are all strong.
Just to think, we refer to them as “Silly geese.” Yeah, right! They have many things to teach us, don’t they? Stay close to others. Take turns carrying the heavier load of responsibility. Honk out words of encouragement. Take care of each other in bad times. Geese have much to teach us. We have much to learn. Shalom. EC