This post-Christmas entry connects to the quiet Native American Christmas carol, I Wonder as I Wander. Its haunting melody and plaintive words can be deeply moving for any of us who have felt that “wandering” is an apt description of our lives!
Among the benefits of being a retired older guy are the recurring moments when my wanderings through life’s necessary routines allow me the time and space to wonder about oddball occurrences that tickle my fancy. I had one of those moments a few days back, when I saw a flock of geese doing their best to form some sort of migrating “V”, heading in several conflicting directions. As they were forming their possible flight pattern, they were joined by a duck. An actual duck, joining in this goose-gaggle’s attempt to go somewhere meaningful.
Aimless or just wandering for the fun of it, these geese must have been surprised—or delighted—to see a speedy duck cruising into their formation. Was this perhaps a pond-neighbor from the past, without its mate, looking for companionship? Or direction in its life? Perhaps the duck was an unknown interloper, an outlier that they could absorb into their V-skilled goose company.
I wondered how the eventual flight would proceed. Whether the geese and duck would arrive at a satisfying destination. Or whether the geese would gently nudge their temporary companion away from their flight pattern or preferred landing spot. Presuming the best of the geese—this can be a difficult mental exercise—I imagined them arriving at their journey’s end, their new friend in their midst, excited about this new addition to their little group.
Because the duck was alone, perhaps forlornly so—bachelor and widower ducks are probably part of the biology of duck life—he/she needed the safety of other, larger animals whose frequent proclamations and warnings certainly seemed to portend a better existence. So why NOT join these squawking third-cousin birds ? Why not learn another language, becoming a bilingual duck/goose speaker? Much better than facing the coming winter all lonely and dejected.
My imagination also extended to the duck’s feelings about its flight. Was there comfort in knowing that there was likely a pleasing destination at the end of the non-migrating flying-about? Perhaps some fun awaited, some new food? Certainly new experiences. Perhaps there might be other ducks there, also previously isolated and ready to be welcoming. This couldn’t be anything except a fortunate possibility for the goose-pretender!
My reverie stopped at this point. But my imagination has lingered. Thinking about being alone, an outlier—that’s familiar emotional territory. Remembering the older adults I know whose solitary existence sometimes seems to have a forlorn edge. Wondering where there are duck-like folks among the flocks I fly with—folks who want to belong but come up short for reasons they don’t always understand. People I could pay attention to. Thinking how being an older person can be a kind of post-migration way of journeying through life—the faraway destinations are no longer possible, but the yearning for flight and movement and traveling is still strong. How good it would be to have a duck or two alongside.
And here the writing ends as well. Perhaps my little story can remind you about the sheer joy of similar moments, of your own roaming thoughts. Times and places in life when you’re free from anxiety or the stress of decision-making. About the joy of your group travel into nature’s wonders. Thankfully, these moments can be available to those of us who are older, whose wondering skills and yearnings still strong.
Perhaps we can celebrate all of our thought-wanderings?
(To receive these entries as they are posted, go to the upper right hand corner of the top banner and click on the three parallel lines or three dots. Scroll down to the form and enter your information.)