The Little Gosling

A special story, read by Mai at the Jeff Foster Retreat in Frandeux, Belgium, on June 1, 2017

Since last evening’s meeting I’ve had this feeling of completely falling apart, just crumbling to dust. Of not knowing anything anymore, of having no clue whatsoever as to how to live life, or be alive.


All of my life I have been feeling tremendously sensitive and fragile, both physically as well as emotionally, like an open wound that never heals. Always overwhelmed by everything around me and almost continuously feeling unable to cope with life.

Last night, while I experienced this feeling of totally falling apart and turning to dust, I cried my eyeballs out in my bed, my body feeling completely paralyzed while strange electric sensations seemed to possess it. My head was filled with thoughts of unworthiness, ugliness, shame and guilt, and I felt a tremendous lack of safety and support. There was just no other way than totally immersing myself in this boiling hot soup of sensations, and I literally cried myself to sleep.


This morning after breakfast I took the boat out for a row on the lake. While I was enjoying the peace and calm of the surrounding water, I noticed the lovely geese family nearby. It was so beautiful to watch the little babies with their uniquely individual looks and personalities, one of them very independent and already exploring the world on his own, another one clearly much tinier and more fragile than the others.


At some point the parents decided to climb up the bank of the lake, which was a rather steep one and not easy to climb, even for the parents. Three of the four goslings struggled to climb up, but succeeded fairly quickly. The fourth one though was the tiniest, most fragile one. He tried and tried and struggled all he could, but he didn’t seem to be able to manage that steep and bumpy climb.


Then he started screaming for his parents. At first I couldn’t see where they had gone, but when I looked a little closer, I saw them waiting and watching peacefully a few metres higher up the bank. They didn’t do anything visible to help their baby, but I could feel their silent support in the background, giving him all the time and space he needed. Meanwhile tiny baby goose seemed to have gained some control over his panic and started swimming up and down the bank to look for another route to go up. He tried at least a dozen spots, while keeping on squeaking loudly. The parents stayed in their high spot, not moving an inch, just waiting and watching in peace.


What struck me was that despite the clear terror going on in this little baby goose, he never ever gave up trying. And at last, through his endless creativity he found a small floating branch that made just enough contact with the shore for him to be able to climb up the bank.


I was truly in awe of this little guy’s bravery and perseverance and I thought: well yeah, of course, THIS is what it’s all about: BE fragile, BE terrified, panic all you can, but beyond that there’s always the bravery to never give up, because the bravery has always been there somewhere and will never leave me.


And even without me being aware, somehow, somewhere, there’s always that silent peaceful support in the background, like that little gosling’s parents showed me.

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