Goose (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Pilgrim Geese

English: Pilgrim Geese (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The farm next to my workplace has a small but stalwart gaggle of geese that have appointed themselves as guardians of the property. My first day of work at this new job I was startled to find myself faced with a very noisy and aggressive lineup of geese blocking the driveway. They had no intention of giving way and I really didn’t want to start my work experience here by running over any of them. That would have to be bad karma on a monumental scale. So, I rolled down my window, leaned out and discussed the situation with them at some length. Finally, an accord was reached and they grudgingly let me through.

As time has gone by I have gotten in the habit of  looking for them when I arrive at work . This spring a few baby geese arrived on the scene and I loved watching their progress from tiny bits of fluff to fully grown geese, very smart-looking and freshly pressed in their new feather attire. They, of course, quickly joined the guardians of the driveway and added their voices to the overall drama of my early morning arrivals.

About the same time as the baby geese hatched, three ducks showed up and joined the group. They mingled freely with the geese but generally napped at a slight distance from the core group. There seemed to be a cordial détente in place. One by one their numbers were reduced. A car hit one of the ducks. Then another just disappeared. Now there was only the one. I began to think of him as George.

That was about six months ago. George is still hanging out with the geese. I have been expecting him to leave to find others of his kind. But he seems to have settled in. The geese…well, they seem to have accepted him as a kind of ne’er do well distant relative. I imagine them talking among themselves about when George would realize he had vastly overstayed his welcome and take his leave. I can see the dominant male of the group sighing and muttering, “Well, you know George…” The other geese nod and bob their heads in agreement. A few yards away an oblivious George waddles around, wiggling his tail feathers and poking around in the rubble of the harvested corn field.

He seems to have found a comfortable niche for himself. They all seem to get along, if not perhaps the closest of friends, at least amicable acquaintances who are comfortable splashing around in puddles together.

I am curious though…does George know he is not the same as the others? I often see him sleeping a distance apart from the group. Did they chase him away or is this his own preference? And when the flocks overhead are migrating, do the calls of his own kind stir him?  Does he feel a pang of longing? Does he look to the sky and measure what he has lost against the scant comfort he has found among the geese?

Finding a place to call home, to be with people we love and who love us, isn’t that what we long for? Sometimes the fear that we will never find that place, those people, can push us toward accepting the unacceptable as a viable substitute. It is easy to get derailed if we let fear call the shots. Following our dreams, believing that what we have always hoped for is truly achievable , is not an easy path. It can be painful and lonely and daunting. So if we step off that path, decide to settle for what is within our grasp instead of that which is unknown, can anyone really fault us?