This year is the 75th anniversary of Robert McCloskey’s children’s book, Make Way For Ducklings. It’s a charming story about a family of Mallards making their home in the Boston Public Gardens. A statue of Mrs. Mallard and her 8 ducklings can be found in the Gardens. This book has been named the official children’s book of Massachusetts.
The other day a friend and I were driving home from a lunch out. Traffic was suddenly held up, but not by a stop light. On our right was a widespread green space. About 20 Canada geese were picnicking on the grass. What held up the traffic were a couple of lollygagger geese sashaying across the highway to join their flock.
We decided to pull over and watch them for abit. As we observed the geese I was sure I heard them talking amongst themselves. They were a disgruntled lot. I gleaned from their chattery honking that they were a gaggle gone rogue.
Their beaks had gotten out of joint over the aforementioned 75th anniversary. They were spewing negativity about all the fuss over ducks. This group of malcontents obviously lost sight of how much press geese have gotten for centuries. And, it wasn’t only about their livers.
I was compelled to talk to the feisty flock and try to offer up a more positive perspective. Knowing geese can be aggressive and being seriously outnumbered, I needed a plan. My friend and I cautiously approached the birds. We offered to share the treats we were bringing home for ourselves if they would give us an audience. Curiosity won out over a proclivity towards nastiness and they agreed.
I began with a reminder of the matriarch of all goosedom, Mother Goose. Their honks sounded like, “Oh,yeah, her. Right.” We further reminded them of some of their amazing attributes and the lessons humans can learn from geese. For example, when flying in the V formation, the flapping of wings provides uplift to the group which allows for further range than flying solo. When the lead goose becomes tired, he backs into one of the other positions. Another goose takes over the point. If a goose drops out, flying becomes more arduous and he will return to the formation. Also, they honk to encourage each other.
It makes a difference when we find ways to work together rather than trying to do things alone. It makes a difference when there is a rotation of responsibility so one person doesn’t get burnt out. It makes a difference when we hear words of encouragement for our efforts and accomplishments.
Geese show empathy and support. If a goose is sick or hurt, two other geese will follow it down. They will stay with that goose until it is able to fly again or dies. We all have what it takes to support and care for each other through difficult times.
Reminding the geese of their strengths and fine qualities resulted in a change from the rampant pettiness to a less critical, more humble demeanor.
Recognition and acknowledgement of character strengths and virtues leads to being more resilient, more productive, more confident, more likely to achieve goals, and happier.
My friend and I thanked the geese and left the treats as promised. Now, in case you were wondering, we wisely refrained from any mention of Christmas dinner.