I saw three geese today. They were moving forward and descending rapidly across the road I was traveling. Their wings were quivering in an effort to slow down to land, I assumed. And they maintained a perfect mini-v formation throughout their subtle turns and dives. Amazing. I’m sure they weren’t using radios or sonar or whatever modern technology the Thunderbirds or other fascinating military performance flying squads use to stay in sync. How do they do it? (I’ll likely be corrected on the sonar comment—I’m guessing they probably do use some kind of sonar.)
Geese fly in a V because it is easier for every one except the lead goose, who has to break the wind. The geese take turns in the more strenuous lead position. It is a well-coordinated group effort. If you want more details, you can read a few here. http://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/mysteries/geese.html
I have also read on more than one occasion (although I can’t place my fingers on a valid source to back it up in the amount of time I feel warrants the effort) that if a goose is injured or falls sick, two other geese drop out of the formation and stay with it until it is either dead or recovered and able to rejoin the group. A “no man left behind” code. A lovely thought.
Have you ever been left behind in a group? A rock in your shoe has to be dealt with? You stubbed your toe and now have a limp? You watch everyone rush on ahead and hope you won’t fall too far behind? You had to stay home alone with the flu when everyone else went out to dinner? Did that ever happen to you? Well, it wouldn’t have if you were a goose. I’m just saying.
So far I’m doing a better job of creating categories than writing posts. But today’s post makes five for five on this post-a-day 2011 challenge I signed up for when I started my blog. No, I couldn’t just sign up for the blog; dabble around for a few days; put up a post; wait about a week; try again.
When you go swimming do you like to gradually get used to the water? First you feel the temperature with your toe. Then you descend the first step, then another until you slowly make it to the bottom where you stand a while shivering and using your hands to splash water over your arms. Then finally, you either decide to go all the way under, or you turn and retreat.
Or do you like to jump right in?
I’m jumping in.
It’s interesting to note, although somewhat redundant and therefore boring to read, that many if not most or even all writers struggle with the sitting-down-to-put-words-on-the-page part of writing. The single most often repeated advice on writing that I’ve read is, “Sit your butt down in front of your typewriter and stay there. Every day.” (I know typewriters are a thing of the past, but don’t you agree that the idea of one adds a bit of nostalgia and romance to the vision. I mean, let’s face it, I could sit in front of my computer and do any number of things including play Bejeweled or Spider Solitaire and it wouldn’t do a thing to advance my writing ability or projects.)
The other piece of advice that I find somewhat mystical and therefore compelling is “Just show up at the keyboard and then get out of the way.” I mean, really? How can I write without thinking about what I am going to write?
But here’s the thing that convinces me the most about the credibility of this advice: some of the best sentences, paragraphs, stories I’ve written have shown up in my head when I wake up in the morning, or occasionally in the middle of the night. They aren’t anything I’ve necessarily intended to write, or contemplated how to word. Just bam. There they are in my head in the morning. I’m always amazed when this happens. It’s like when I’m sleeping my brain says, “Finally, she’s out of the way and I can get to work here.”
That’s it. Surely you can’t expect brilliance everyday. Think of it as gold mining. You have to throw away an awful lot of gravel.
If I live to the age of 90, optimistic but not unheard of, I have already passed my midlife, or halfway point of 45, by at least eight and soon to be nine years. Whatever turbulence the infamous transition through midlife was going to cause should be behind me and I should be cruising in a slow-paced, self-accepting, creative, contented and fulfilled life.
But if I don’t start calculating my midlife point until I reached adulthood, which to make the numbers simple we’ll say is at the age of 20, and if I live to be 90, I am right smack in the middle of my midlife.
I know the math can be challenging, but feel free to use a pencil and paper, or you can just trust me.
Since I’m not feeling settled-down, contented and fulfilled, I did a google search.
Don’t you just love the internet? In days gone by to obtain this information I would have had to wrap my muffler around my neck, pull on my snow boots and trudge, shivering out to the car to drive to a library, periodically swiping the fogged up windshield with a Taco Bell napkin I located on the floor of the passenger seat until the snail-paced heater and defroster kicked into gear. At the library I would have to stand in a puddle of dirty water as the gray snow sludge melted from my boots, and search through the card catalog file, which might take quite a while depending how clever I was at searching for the right words and whether I could read the worn-off labels on the little wooden drawers or not. (I have to admit; there was something charming about those wooden chests full of little labeled wooden drawers.) Does anybody know what I am rambling on about?
Back to the point. Sitting in the warmth and comfort of my study, watching the light snowfall drift down outside the window, my internet search for midlife crisis led me to some interesting information about not only midlife (http://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/guide/midlife-crisis-opportunity) but also human development which I am sharing, in part, with you below.
“Infancy (birth to 18 months): . . .Children develop a sense of trust when caregivers provide reliability, care, and affection. A lack of this will lead to mistrust.
Early Childhood (2 to 3 years): . . . Children need to develop a sense of personal control over physical skills and a sense of independence. Success leads to feelings of autonomy, failure results in feelings of shame and doubt.
Preschool (3 to 5 years): . . . Children need to begin asserting control and power over the environment. Success in this stage leads to a sense of purpose. Children who try to exert too much power experience disapproval, resulting in a sense of guilt.
School Age (6 to 11 years): . . .Children need to cope with new social and academic demands. Success leads to a sense of competence, while failure results in feelings of inferiority.
Adolescence (12 to 18 years): . . .Teens need to develop a sense of self and personal identity. Success leads to an ability to stay true to yourself, while failure leads to role confusion and a weak sense of self.
Yound Adulthood (19 to 40 years): . . .Young adults need to form intimate, loving relationships with other people. Success leads to strong relationships, while failure results in loneliness and isolation.
Middle Adulthood (40 to 65 years): . . .Adults need to create or nurture things that will outlast them, often by having children or creating a positive change that benefits other people. Success leads to feelings of usefulness and accomplishment, while failure results in shallow involvement in the world.
Maturity (65 to death) . . .Older adults need to look back on life and feel a sense of fulfillment. Success at this stage leads to feelings of wisdom, while failure results in regret, bitterness, and despair.”
Whatever stage of life you find yourself in, I wish you success.
I know it sounds cliché, but I’ve got to get it off my chest. I miss the good old days.
Were people really kinder when times were slower, or is my aging memory fading the harsh colors of reality into softer, gentler images?
Here’s my point, which I think may be undeniable; people had more time for and with each other before the barrage of 24-hour newscasts, sportscasts, movie channels and reality television. People had more silence and fewer disruptions before the cell phones became the most necessary item to carry with you at all times with their jingling or sometimes jarring tunes announcing an undoubtedly urgent call, or a beep or buzz announcing a new text message of vital importance.
My grandmother’s family and a few friends seeking diversions, used to gather around the piano in the parlor. Grandma played the ivory keys while her father and brother coaxed lively tunes from their fiddles. They weren’t professional musicians, just farmers. Camaraderie, laugher, and shared endeavor could all be regularly found in that small parlor of an evening.
My parents used to gather with their respective families around the family radio for the broadcast of Only the Shadow Knows, or another favorite radio show. Intent listening, respectful silence and vivid imagination were all required in that living room of an afternoon.
We always had a television as far as I can remember. It was a big bulky thing that made an awful buzzing noise when my parents turned it on. The screen lit up with random horizontal lines struggling to form themselves into a coherent image. It turned off in the same fashion—static noise and lines ending with a final pop. We received three major networks all of which signed off sometime in the evening. When something monumental was happening in the world, you waited until the evening newscast with Walter Cronkite to hear about it.
There was no popping in a DVD of Jungle Book to entertain a sick and sleepless child in the wee hours of the morning. What did our grandmothers do with their sick children in the middle of the night? Did you ever wonder about that?
Human interaction, I suppose.
I do believe people were different when things were different. But not always and only for the best. I don’t have to attempt to list for you all the things that are better now because of modern technology.
I just think we make a mistake if we assume that nothing was lost.
Even so, I for one am not now, and likely never will be, willing to part with my laptop and I-pad.
Mark was diligently chopping celery for our crock pot stew and I was loafing around the kitchen, looking out the window, when I saw a beautiful red animal running though the monochromatic snow-covered woods at the foot of the hill behind our house.
“That’s a red fox,” I said.
Not that I was an expert on such matters. In fact I’d never seen a red fox before in my 53 years. But you would have said the same. If you see a red fox, you know it.
Mark joined me at the window and as I was unwilling to turn my back on the bushy-tailed, pointy-nosed, red-furred or haired (not an expert, remember?) animal leisurely jogging through the woods, over the creek and across our back yard, and was equally unable to convince Mark to do the same, and as my camera was not close at hand, the event went unrecorded. Sadly.
When I recounted the incident to my sister Carol, she said, “Why don’t you look up the significance of a red fox sighting online? Try a native american site.”
I googled it. Here’s a brief run-down.
Foxes are symbolic of camouflage and shape shifting, cunning, wildness and diplomacy.
A fox sighting is a warning to keep one’s counsel. a guide into the Faerie Realm, a signal from the spirits of the deceased, a good luck omen.
A sighting of multiple foxes is bad luck.
The meaning of the sighting depends upon what is going on in your life and in your head at the moment the fox was sighted.
As my mind was fairly well blank to the best of my recollection, I’m really not sure what it meant, except that it was a beautiful moment and in the future I will keep my camera on a kitchen shelf within easy reach.
The above information regarding fox sightings came from the following websites which offer further clarification on the matter and make for interesting reading.