I have always loved Canadian Geese. I love the sound of their honking as I hear them fly overhead and wonder where they are headed. They fascinate me, the way they fly in their V-formation, with the lead goose like an orchestra conductor, keeping them all in tune. When he tires he retreats to the end of the line and another bird that is stronger will take his place. They support one another. They work together. If one of the birds gets sick or extremely tired, two other geese will fall out of formation and fly with him, to protect him, until he either dies or recovers. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we all had that kind of support to both give and receive?
These geese have been weighing heavily on my mind for the past few days. I was driving on a quiet back road in Sonoma when suddenly I could see a bird flying directly towards my windshield. As it got closer I saw it was a Canadian goose, he was flying very low and he was alone. I knew something must have gone terribly wrong for him. Today three geese flew by me and they were all out of sync, going this way and that, there was no formation.
I've been feeling a bit like these lost geese lately. I kind of fell out of formation too. Not sure what direction to take, who to listen to (I would listen to myself except I keep saying so many things I can't hear anything at all), trying to decide what choices are the right ones. Or if not the "right" ones, choices that will not totally disappoint me once I am living with them.
Whenever I am in a situation where I have a life changing decision to make my first instinct is to run off to a Buddhist silent retreat and see if I can gain some perspective there. That is all fine and dandy I guess if you have endless days to spare and deep pockets of cash to spend. Right now I have several life changing decisions to make so as you might imagine, I’m thinking that a minor 10 day retreat in Berkeley won’t cut it, this time I’m thinking I might need a full blown pilgrimage to India. Okay, or maybe just to my bedroom. Darkened and quiet, sage incense burning, a few books by my side, Rumi of course and one of the many Dalai Lama books I have bought and still have yet to read on the nightstand. I will sit alone in this room, (probably for all of 10 minutes before I have to get up to eat, drink, shower, work, etc - hence the problem with real life :) alone except for my cat, Ellie. The cat who has stuck with me for the past five years through all of my changes. She really didn’t have a choice to stick by me, I basically put her in the cat carrier and toted her off to my many different places of residence during that time frame. But still, I appreciate her right now. Just for being here. Just for her soft purr and her patience with me.
But back to the geese, I am a big believer in paying attention to the signs that show up for us everyday of our lives. It seems most people need that sign to be in n e o n, but these subtle signs are there if we just make room in our busy minds and open our closed eyes to notice them. This is the message I got from the geese. (Wow, the part about “know when to lead and when to seek guidance and follow”) – Brilliant.
CANADIAN GOOSE - The migration of Canadian Geese marks the passages of the Great Circle of the Year, and reminds us of the sacredness of the cycles of our own life. We can also learn from the cooperative and communal behavior of these birds, who never abandon a sick or wounded member of the flock, and who know when to lead and when to seek guidance and follow. The goose is also about traveling to distant places, it is about breaking free from one place to move on in your life in order to survive. If you are stuck in an old pattern, the goose can help you move forward bringing new patterns in.