Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Be Smart Like The Goose.

Yesterday I was out running in what could only be described as a gale. The rain was very heavy and the wind blowing towards me made each step harder than the one before. It reminded me of another occasion when I was out in a similar situation with running with my friend. He had tucked in behind me using me as a windbreak. saying, “There is not much of you but in such situations there is enough.”

That memory was brought back to me not by the wind or the rain or in fact by the running, but later in the day when I saw a flock of geese making their way across the sky. I am sure you have seen how they fly in a large v. They were heading towards Loch Leven.

The next time you see geese flying in a "V" formation, you might consider what science has discovered as to why they fly that way.

As each bird flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird immediately following. By flying in a "V" formation, the whole flock adds at least 71 percent greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own.

People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going more quickly and easily, because they are travelling on the thrust of one another.

When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird in front.

If we have the sense of a goose, we will stay in formation with those people who are heading the same way we are.

When the head goose gets tired, it rotates back in the wing and another goose flies point.

It is sensible to take turns doing demanding jobs, whether with people or with geese flying.

Geese honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.

What message do we give when we honk from behind?

Finally - and this is important - when a goose gets sick or is wounded by gunshot, and falls out of the formation, two other geese fall out with that goose and follow it down to lend help and protection. They stay with the fallen goose until it is able to fly or until it dies; and only then do they launch out on their own, or with another formation to catch up with their own group.

If we have the sense of a goose, we will stand by each other like that.

The trouble with us is that we are so often like my friend. He wanted to stay in the rear the whole way getting the benefit of my break before him. When he made noises at the back, it was because I was moving too far too the side not doing as he wanted. When we had turned out of the wind to make the home run he, having been shielded from the wind broke out and ran ahead feeling pleased to be able to do the last mile faster than me.

We laughed about that often because the end result was that I waited my time for another equally difficult run and remembered this event and acting differently and got the last laugh. Fortunately we knew each other well enough to laugh sadly so often such single-mindedness results not in laughter but feelings of division.

Maybe the silly goose has something to teach us about co-operation.

This is the way of the Tao.

This Blog Is Linked to My Other Blog  Mountains To Climb


  1. I love this post, Ralph!

    Sticking with others who are traveling in the same direction as we are. Why don't they teach this? Its always, "don't hang out with the wrong crowd." Often when people with similar interest get together, competition and backstabbing follow. Humans can be so stupid...

    Blogging as we do here, connected with artists, resembles the geese. Maybe that's why we all enjoy it so much. The honking is the comments!

    Feel good about what you're doing. Still running in the rain? Amazing. I wish you clear sunny skies tomorrow...

  2. That was really enlightening post. I can see that following you is only doing me good. So like a goose I will follow you. The saying " United we stand, divided we fall",is the right thing to do.
    Thanks again for coming up with such good blogs.

  3. I love it!!!!!!!!!!
    Sending some sun and blue sky to you only.

  4. Good Morning Ralph, we have a goose on the ground! How is Autumn Leaves doing? or have we flown right past her?

  5. What a wonderful read. Most of it I know, but it was twice as wonderful with the human element .... thanks.