"Some men give up their designs when they have almost
reached the goal; while others on the contrary,
obtain a victory by exerting, at the last moment,
more vigorous efforts than ever before." - Herodotus
I had a few moments between errands some days ago and found myself by the small lakes in a park nearby. The park has had a big problem with an over population of somewhat aggressive geese. So the city of Richmond hired dogs (and their handlers) to scare the geese away and open up the park for visitors again. When I was there only two goose families remained, staying most likely because the new babies couldn't fly away just yet. I sat on a bench to feed my senses on nature and watched these cute little families.
While I was sitting a few people walked the perimeter of the lakes with their dogs. And those poor geese families! Each time a dog would come by the goose parents would take their little goslings out of the grass where they were foraging and into the lake. Down they'd all go... plop plop plop. And they'd swim for a moment or two, long enough for the sweet doggies to walk by and then everyone would head back up the bank for more time on the lawn.
Both families did it for each of the dogs I saw. But what touched me about these little moments was the transition back out of the water. There isn't a simple bank, and there are no goose steps for the little ones. Without wings they cannot fly out of the lake either. So, one by one, they came to the edge and then jumped and hurled their little bodies up onto the brick edging. And, to be honest, sometimes they didn't make it. Plop! back into the lake they went -- only to have to try again. Repeatedly!
The thing is, they did not have the option to give up. The little ones could not stay in the water. They had to get out to eat and rest. And the parents could not pick them up and help them (not having hands or anything). So one parent would go on ahead with the first babies up and the second would wait as each little gosling made as many attempts as needed to get back up onto the grass.
I thought that was an excellent example of kind, patient, and empowering parenting.
It's also a bit how I feel as a teacher. And a good lesson for me as a student as well. As teacher it is the reminder that I hope to guide my students where they want to go and where I imagine they could go. It is, in fact, my job to believe in them and support them in doing more than they believe they possibly can. While at the same time, the students must do for themselves. I cannot stick them in the pose or put them into deep meditation or wake them up -- they must do it.
And on the flip-side, as student/practitioner and life-liver, the geese remind me to JUST KEEP TRYING. It matters not how many attempts, but the love, attention, attitude, and dedication I put into each one. It matters not how long it takes, or even if I totally reach my goal. It matters about what goes in to getting there. The goal is never where the learning is, the process of reaching it is what reveals truth to me. For me, it's easy to quit when the going gets, not even tough, but just slightly uncomfortable. The geese remind me to keep at it. (and thank goodness, most of what I'm encountering isn't life and death survival as it is for the little goslings).
So, I'm coming back at it. Making a point of crawling back out from under the rock I've been living in to start blogging again. Partially, I miss the communication (even if just limited) that I get when I blog. But also, because I do so much personal digestion, articulation, and reflection through the blog that I've been feeling unmoored without it. The attempts may be messy and I might miss the mark, but back I come.